Easy Ways to Find FREE Online Enrichment
By Andrea Eldridge
These days I find most of the stuff on TV, radio or (jeez!) social media to be just draining and heavy. And I don’t know about you, but that constant barrage of big, bad news or happenings that are out of my control can leave me feeling defeated and bummed out.
But I also like to keep my brain engaged when I’m in the car, walking the dog, or doing chores. SO ~ this has led me to seek alternative content.
Of course, everything wants you to subscribe and pay that $10-15 each month… BUT!
I’ve found some really amazing totally FREE content that I wanted to share for any readers that are also seeking something more enriching in their day. If you’ve read my posts before, you’ve probably picked up on the part where free is my favorite.
As of 2020, about 50% of all U.S. homes reported enjoying podcasts, so starting off with podcasts may not be a big surprise. But if you’ve never checked one out, there are literally over a million podcasts so there’s definitely something to fit any interest or genre.
From story-driven weekly episodes of murder mysteries or thrillers, comedy shows, health and wellness, technology (of course), history, science, you name it, it’s out there.
You can find a podcast for you and listen through Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Spotify completely free. There are ads but it’s usually not too obnoxious (most Podcast players have a 30-second skip ahead I find super useful, wink wink).
I prefer episodes to be around 30 minutes so they tend to work great into my commute or dish doing time so I don’t have to remember where I’m at in an episode when I pick it up again.
Here are some of my current favorites, all of which you can stream directly from their website as well:
Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos uses actual science to give surprising tips on how to genuinely feel happier, from debunking the myth of “positive thinking” to making yourself talk to strangers.
I know, I know, talk to strangers? Ew. But apparently, humans are social animals and actually DO really benefit from casual, friendly engagement even when your instincts tell you to keep your head down and ignore everyone.
There are episodes on how to find fun, why more choice is actually NOT always better, and tips for kicking bad habits.
Who doesn’t want more happiness in their life?
There’s no news or politics on this NPR.
Each quick episode (usually around 20 minutes) is an interview with an expert on a variety of topics like sleeping better, how to ask for a promotion, getting your toddler to try new foods or ways to make small changes that can benefit the environment. So many great episodes that I just choose what I’m interested in that day based on the title of the episode.
If you’re only interested in a specific topic like health, money or parenting, they have specific Life Kit shows you can follow with just those episodes, but I subscribe (for free, this just means I “follow” the show) to the general “Life Kit” so I see them all.
I also have just started enjoying Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Chasing Life which is more science & research-led life tips on all sorts of topics like sleeping better, foods that benefit your brain, overcoming social anxiety and the health benefits of pets.
If none of these interest you, don’t write off podcasts! There are so, so many choices in this space.
If life hack style content isn’t your thing, or if you’re looking for mindless entertainment more than learning or life enrichment tips, there is definitely a podcast to fit any interest.
Library Content Online
Some people prefer books, magazines or video content but maybe they don’t have the resources to subscribe to Audible, Netflix, Hulu and the rest.
These are websites and associated apps that link to your library card.
You get access to a HUGE online library of eBooks and audiobooks but a lot of people don’t realize you can also borrow eBook versions of comic books and magazines, stream movies and TV shows, even listen to popular movies.
Hoopla is right now featuring albums from Broadway Shows and movie musicals like Encanto, Hamilton, Sing, and man just so much more.
Overdrive often has a waitlist but you’ll get an email when its your turn to borrow and you can have your eBook, Audiobook for up to 21 days. Not sure how long they let you keep movies.
Hoopla has a slightly smaller library of options (still massive, though) but everything you see on there is immediately available without having to wait for an available copy like sometimes happens with Overdrive. You get a certain number of borrows each month (I think I get like 20 or more) and you can just keep re-borrowing something if you don’t finish it before the end of the month.
I hope this inspires you to find something you actually enjoy listening to, maybe even learn from, without having to pay a subscription fee to get.