3 Fun Activities to Get You Out of The House

So, in an ongoing effort to stave off the effects of depression and anxiety, I’ve been trying to take steps to change my lifestyle here and there to better facilitate my emotional health. I recently started a new anti-depressant/anti-anxiety treatment, I’ve been actively cutting out people and things that may cause me undue stress, and I’m starting to listen more to my own sense of comfort – favoring an “if it feels good, do it” mentality over fretting over what society will think.

But, in addition to all that, I’m also making an effort to try an overcome my mild to moderate demophobia and disdain for social interactions by trying to force myself to go outside more often. The only problem is – and I imagine this a problem for A LOT of people with social anxiety – that unless you need to go shopping or something, there’s often little reason to leave the comfort of your bedroom/living room/personal office (I have very little living space; shut up).

So, I’ve been attempting to find and rediscover some old out outdoor activities to help get me outside, be more physically active, and socializing with humanity again. So far, I’ve come across three viable fun-time adventures to go on.

Urban Hiking

Yes, nature is pretty. But a skyline can be nice to look at too.
Source: Liz Thomas Hiking

My Father is a bit of a mountaineer. He’s hiked along almost every major mountain trail in New Hampshire and he’s been very encouraging to try and get me to join him.

The problem is that I live in the middle of the city with very little time to devote to traveling to the mountains. But who’s to say you can’t enjoy a hike through the city?

Sure, some people may scoff at the idea. But if you find it difficult to get to a nature trail, urban hiking may just suit you. Not only does it get you into a social setting, but you may just be surprised at what you find on your travels. I’ve been on hikes through college towns with lots of shops packed together and found places that I end up coming back to later; thrift stores, cafes, etc.

Most Urban Hikers seem to favor places with lots of stairs and hills to simulate the incline of a mountain trail, but you can always choose the path that best suits your level of expertise. It all makes for a more travel-friendly, lower-risk social activity.


“I found treasure… WITH MY PHONE.”
Source: Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

One part hike, one part treasure hunt, and one part time capsule. Geocaching is the high tech way to wander the world in search of fresh new sights.

What’s nice about geocaching is how accessible it is. People have quite literally hidden these little boxes of surprise goodies that they trade from one cache to the next EVERYWHERE; in cities, on nature trails, in cemeteries, in parking lots – if you can covertly fit a container big enough to hold a logbook of some kind in it, someone has likely done so. As such, there’s no shortage of options to fit your skill level. All you need is a phone with a GPS and the drive to explore.

What’s more, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of coming across an item in a cache with a tracking number on it so you can see where it’s been. On my first outing, I found a keychain from the Hard Rock Cafe in Singapore with such a tracker. It had gone up the west coast from the southern tip of California to Washington state, leaped to mid-state New York, and again to New Hampton here in New Hampshire. I then left it in a cache in Maine to complete its coast-to-coast journey and, last I saw, it was somewhere in Texas.

The only catch is that you have to exercise a little stealth while playing as any non-players (referred to, much to the delight of Harry Potter fans, as Muggles) may be inclined to tamper with or even steal the cache. So tread lightly and stay aware.

Battle Gaming

All the action of a Dungeons & Dragons game right in your face.
Source: Wikipedia

Do you miss the days when you and your friends would roughhouse in the yard, but don’t want to risk losing teeth to recreate the feeling? Do you like the look and action of LARPing, but can’t be arsed to deal with all that role-playing nonsense? Well, grab yourself some foam and get into the ring of battle games.

I got into this back in my convention days and it was a blast. Armed with foam-crafted blade and shield (called Boffers) and your nerves, you can now capture the feeling of charging into battle like the warriors of old.

The rules of battle differ depending on who’s organizing the events. Some are one-on-one gladiatorial battles. Others are large-scale wargames with competing tribes and armies. And each has different regulations on how boffers are crafted and what weapons are allowed. Though almost all of them are designed to minimize the risk of injury while letting players go wild.

With foam arrows flying through the air and people shield bashing their way through a crowd, it can get hectic. But with the light bruises comes a sense of pride and exhilaration as you face down the horde and stand your ground against the odds… even if it’s all just pretend and sport.

Sweet Projects For When The Weather Warms Up

You know what sucks the most about winter? Not being able to do the stuff you enjoy.

For those unfortunate enough to not live in the warmer parts of the world, it seems that inclement weather conditions constantly put a damper on plans this time of year. Even the things normally reserved for winter weather can be screwed up by bad conditions.

The good news about this is that the time spent trapped indoors gives you time to plan what you wants to do when the spring thaw comes around.

So, since I and a good chunk of America just survived a massive storm that covered everything in glassy ice and left me stranded at work for the night (one advantage of working at an inn: emergency housing), let’s mentally escape the frozen wasteland together by sharing some awesome ideas for spring and summer.

Build A Foundry/Forge

Feel as awesome as this guy while making cool stuff!
Source: souljournaler.blogspot.com

This is one I intend on doing with my dad as soon as conditions allow.

We live within reasonable range of scrap yards and garages that are often stuck with useless car parts, ruined bike frames, mounds of tin and aluminum cans, and worn-out lawnmower blades. Normally, most of these would be left to rust away.

So we thought, “why not refresh and recycle them?”

There are several tutorials out there that can teach you how to build a rudimentary forge or foundry furnace for reforging and recasting old metal for art projects.

While the designs differ greatly the basics are the same; a durable metal body (we intend on using an old air compressor tank), a thick refractory lining for insulation (either ceramic fiber or a 50/50 mix of sand and plaster), a heat source (coal or propane seem to be popular) and – for those who go with coal – a blower to force air over the flame (depending on the size of your furnace, you can use anything from a hairdryer to a shop vacuum and attach it to a steel intake pipe).

There are also tutorials on techniques for forging and casting. I personally want to try my hand at forging Cable Damascus Steel.

Cook With The Power of the Sun

Make a delicious meal… WITH THE POWER OF THE SUN!
Source: greenappleholan.blogspot.com

Here’s a grade school science classic.

As soon as the weather allows, we love to start grilling and cooking outside. So why not combine the great weather and cookery with a homemade solar cooker.

As with the forge, there are many designs to choose from that operate on the same basic principles. The most popular designs are the classic solar box cooker (in essence, a simple insulated box lined with aluminum) and more modern parabolic cookers which act more like a solar stove top than the oven-like box.

Fun for Outdoorsmen

All this beauty could be yours.
Source: wallpapersforwall.blogspot.com

One of my favorite places to find projects is at The Art of Manliness, a one-stop guide for the classic gentleman. But, more rougher-edged folks can also find good times in their outdoorsmanship guides and projects.

Want to try your hand at spear hunting and fishing? Check out their small game hunting gig.

Need a portable heat and light source in the wild? There’s a nifty infographic on how to make a classic torch.

Want to fuel your mischievous 1950’s inner child? Do like me and build a natural fork slingshot.

The great outdoors awaits any with the courage a resourcefulness to meet it. Go for it, kids.