With coronavirus shutting down communities across the globe, billions of us are looking for ways to stay entertained at home.
If your life in isolation so far is revolving around binging TV shows and drinking wine, it might be time to try a new approach. Getting immersed in a new hobby can be really good for mental health and reducing stress, and with most of us spending our days cooped up inside, it’s never been more important to prioritise wellbeing.
From learning new skills to flexing your creative muscles, here are a few ideas for making the most of your downtime.
If you fancy impressing future dinner guests with a new piece of art on the wall, YouTube has plenty of beginner tutorials for learning the basics of painting with acrylics or watercolours. You’ll need a set of paints and brushes, a palette, a surface to paint on (canvas or paper) – all available to buy online at Spotlight or www.craftonline.com.au, for example – and a jar of water.
If you feel really adventurous, you could even have a go at creating your own take on the contemporary abstract and line work – both of which are popular in the interiors world right now.
2. Learn a language
You may not have spoken French or Spanish since school, but there’s no reason why you can’t finally master speaking a new language this year. Babbel is a learning app that has expertly crafted courses for everyone from absolute beginners to those who simply want to fine-tune their skills.
The app engages you in conversation and gives you real-time feedback, so you can learn how to start talking with confidence on many topics. There are 14 languages to choose from and a lot of learning material to keep you busy.
Duolingo is another easy-to-use app that can be downloaded on your smartphone or tablet. It is free to use and offers courses in 32 languages!
Knitting is probably one of the most mindful pursuits going, thanks to its repetitive nature. You may have tried it in the past and still have some yarn and needles sitting around.
YouTube is a treasure trove of content for beginner knitters, with tutorials from how to nail the essential knit stitch to switching up your designs with different colours and patterns. By the time we come out of lockdown, you could have a brand new, one-of-a-kind jumper hanging in your wardrobe.
4. Origami or colouring
YouTube has numerous paper-folding tutorials that will have you whipping up a crane in no time. Or why not try your hand at some intricate, adult colouring pages? Colouring is meditative and can help to block out everything that is going on in the world while you focus on completing a masterpiece.
JustColour has hundreds of free printable designs, you just need to choose one, print it and colour!
5. Creative writing
Future Learn runs free online creative writing courses designed to get your imaginative juices flowing. The eight-week course requires three hours of study per week and will introduce you to the rituals and approaches that successful fiction writers use.
You’ll learn how to flesh out your ideas, develop your characters and you’ll get feedback on your stories from others taking part in the course too. Time to get cracking on writing that bestseller?
Alternatively, set aside 15 minutes each day to journal; write about whatever you’ve been thinking and feeling during this time and who knows what will come out of it?
6. Get into puzzles and trivia
YourLifeChoices has a daily crossword to keep you busy. There’s a wealth of other puzzles too, including sudoku and word searches.
Or if you want something away from a screen, why not attempt a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle? If bookshops around you are still open, give them a call to see if they have any puzzles instore. They may be able to arrange delivery, or a family member may be able to drop it off to help you beat the boredom.
Make sure you have a big enough space to work on it!
There are plenty of great online resources that can help you to build a gentle daily yoga practice in the garden or your living room. There are classes for all levels and abilities available on YouTube.
Chair yoga is a great option for those with limited mobility. Yin and restorative yoga are both designed to achieve pleasant stretches without ever pushing you to, or beyond, your edge. Vinyasa and Flow yoga are faster and designed to get your heart rate up while giving your body a good stretch.
Now is the perfect time to improve your flexibility and stretch each morning. Yoga is especially good if you have found yourself sitting more than usual at this time.
8. Host an online pub quiz
Decide on which family member will be the host each week and have them come up with a series of questions, then all gather on Zoom or Skype to have a chat and answer some fun trivia questions!
You all have to be honest when marking the answers though!
9. Cooking and baking
Think of the recipe you’ve always wanted to master and give it a go! Maybe you haven’t yet been brave enough to attempt a creamy risotto or homemade pasta, this is the time to try.
Alternatively, create some favourite treats from your childhood; remember making chocolate crackles, or golden syrup dumplings? If you perfect the recipe now, you’ll be able to give your grandchildren a lovely surprise when they next come to visit.
If you’re lucky enough to be in lockdown with a patch of green space to tend to, why not make the most of it by learning some gardening skills? A simple Google search can bring up a wealth of information on how to look after your plants, keep your soil healthy and attract some new wildlife into your garden.
There’s something really fulfilling about clearing the weeds, planting some bulbs and watching your hard work pay off. Plus, you’ll have a relaxing and enjoyable space to chill out in while you’re staying safe at home.
This is the perfect time to try all the things that you’ve thought about or put off in the past. It’s also a great excuse to put a good self-care routine in place.
What are you doing to keep busy and motivated during these uncertain times?
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