If you’ve seen some of our videos, you know how important we think having a bit of fun is. After all, studies have shown that for people with a high risk of heart disease, skipping a vacation again and again increases their likelihood of having a heart attack by 30 percent. More than that, though, having fun is just downright good for the soul.

You don’t have to travel to (expensive) faraway lands to have a good summer, though. It’s easy to make a fun bucket list that includes free, inexpensive and low effort options that will still make for a memorable time. And that’s what’s important, right? Making those happy memories with the people we love.

Go Somewhere New To You

Have you ever found yourself saying “I’ve lived here for 10 years, and yet I’ve never been to…”? It’s so easy to put fun things off for later. After all, we all have work and responsibilities piling up faster than we can get them done. Our to-do lists are overflowing. We’re always behind on something or other, it seems. Take an hour, a day or a weekend in the coming months to explore someplace you’ve never been.

It can be the park down the block from you on a walk with your dog. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try out the local water park or amusement park. Take a trip to a popular place in your state that’s known for its beauty. As long as it’s new to you, it qualifies.

Learn To Say Yes

This is closer to Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes than a self help book about learning how to say no. We all get into a rut with saying yes to the wrong things (more responsibilities at work, additional responsibilities at home) and no to the things that make us feel the best. Every time you find yourself turning down an invitation with friends or loved ones, think for a moment about why?

We’re not saying you’ll turn into a social butterfly overnight, by any means. Often, though, we’ve talked ourselves into a corner on these things. We tell ourselves that we can’t possibly go out because we look like tired parents or that we’re past the age for shenanigans. Say yes to an evening out, and then make it fit your lifestyle. Need to go to bed at a reasonable hour? It’s okay to be the first to leave an event. Don’t want to get dressed up? Unless there is a literal dress code, no one will think twice when you show up in yoga pants.

Do Something Guilt-Free

We’ve grown into a society that appears to be hyper-focused on guilt. We feel bad about every piece of food we put in our mouths. Much as we love them, even Trader Joe’s has hopped on the bandwagon of offering so-called guilt-free foods.
We feel shame over not being ‘adult’ enough or for liking something uncool. We’ll sheepishly cop to watching a guilty pleasure TV show or reading a trashy romance novel.

This summer, it’s time to quit all of that. And by ‘that’ we don’t mean the thing we’re guilty about. Oh no, we mean the guilt itself. As long as what you’re doing isn’t something that would actually land you in hot water, give yourself this free pass. Cut out the unnecessary guilt and enjoy whatever it is (within reason) with your whole heart.

Do Something Just For You

Are you ready for this one? It’s not always in the cards for everyone out there, but if it is then we really encourage you to give it a go. Ditch your family, friends, coworkers and even your dog for the day. Or for an hour. Go do something by yourself that will feed your soul. We’ll be honest, this one might not actually end up being all that enjoyable in the moment. After all, there’s no shame in actually liking your loved ones.

Here’s the thing, though: knowing that you can take a break in the future can help you mentally accept the stress of the present. It’s a powerful realization that can keep you balanced and sane.

Do Something Just For Someone Else

This one can be interpreted quite flexibly. Maybe it means you bring your partner breakfast in bed. You could go for a morning out with the kids where they get to choose the location. Perhaps you plan a surprise party for a friend who just got a new job. Spending time with the people you love doing what they love can be a special experience.

Outside of your own bubble is a big world of opportunities as well, though. Try volunteering at a church (it doesn’t even have to be your church). Sign up for an event to take care of the foliage at a local park for a day. Try feeding the needy or sorting potatoes at a food bank. Whatever you do, you’re likely going to feel better by the end of it.