In Brief

Coronavirus quarantine: 15 ways to make the most of time

Use the lockdown to learn a new skill, improve your life and relationships - or just unwind

With communities worldwide in lockdown as the new coronavirus spreads, countless people may be struggling to pass the time.

Non-stop Netflix marathons may sound like a good solution, but there are plenty of more productive ways to spend those days in quarantine. Here are 15 ideas. 

Learn a new language

Many of us would love to learn a new language but have never had the time - until now. Give it a go with the help of apps such as Memrise, LinguaLift and Duolingo.

Marie Kondo your house

Tokyo-born tidying guru Marie Kondo has sold millions of books and has her own Netflix series about how to organise and declutter homes. Her KonMari system is said to result in not only an orderly living space but also a clean mind - so why not put that claim to the test?

Become a YouTube star

Ever dreamed of becoming one of those smiley kids who make a fortune from babbling to a camera over a soundtrack of chirpy ukuleles? Then just press record, say “Hey, guys” and see where inspiration leads you.

Puzzle over jigsaws

The world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle has more than 42,000 pieces but feel free to start with something less ambitious. Doing jigsaws has been found to have a number of benefits including improved memory, lower stress levels and even increased IQ, according to USA Today.

Keep a diary 

The daily practice of noting down your thoughts may help you bring structure to a strange time and deal with any stress - and there might even be wider benefits. Samuel Pepys’ diary of the Great Fire of London became an important historical document, so perhaps future generations may study your experiences of a coronavirus lockdown?

Learn a musical instrument

Got a guitar or keyboard lurking in your loft? That one you bought but never got round to learning? Now is your chance to master it. (Although if everyone is in lockdown, your neighbours might not appreciate you learning the drums at this point.)

Read a long novel

From epics such as War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and Ulysses by James Joyce, to challenging tomes such as A Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift or almost anything by Will Self, now is your chance to read those books that have been gathering dust on your shelves. Then boast about it to your followers on social media.

Speak to relatives

Apparently, this is something people used to do all the time. If you don’t have a video-call app such as Skype, get everyone in your family set up with it now, so you can all have face-to-face chats during any lockdown. Elderly relatives, in particular, may appreciate regular contact.

Take up yoga and meditation

Embrace your inner yogi by finally getting round to taking up these practices. Apps such as Calm and Headspace can get you started with meditation. There are also free online videos of yoga classes, including this short one from Sivananda Yoga. The world needs calm heads more than ever.

Spoil yourself and relax

There is no rule that says your response to coronavirus has to be “worthy”. Above all else, be sure to enough sleep, eat well and be good to yourself in general.

Expand your theatre or art knowledge 

With theatres and art galleries among the first institutions to shut, the creative sector has been quick to realise the potential to reach a new audience.

Jasmine Lee-Jones, James Graham, Duncan Macmillan and Clint Dyer are among a group of playwrights, directors and actors taking part in Headlong theatre’s new online season while the Institute for Contemporary Arts has released around 900 talks from its library collection that are available to listen online free.

Click here for seven of the best stage shows available online.

Learn to cook

While supplies may be scarcer than normal, now is the perfect time to develop those culinary skills that will serve you equally well once the lockdown is over. Sky News lists some top tips about how to eat creatively and watch the pennies, while Chef Pati Jinich tells Time magazine that, for some, cooking can be one way to reduce anxiety during trying times.

“If you’re at home, cooking is a way to nurture yourself and learn things and stay active,” she says. “It’s also therapeutic because when you’re following a recipe, you put your brain to work and you’re focusing on that instead of thinking about the other worries you may have.”

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Volunteer

Many people are looking to do their bit during the crisis. The unprecedented response to the government’s call for volunteers to help the NHS was rightly hailed by the prime minister, but now the NHS has extended its target to get 750,000 people to help deliver shopping to vulnerable people, transport patients to and from hospital, drive medicines and equipment to NHS facilities, and check up on isolated individuals by telephone.

Learn to garden

For those lucky enough to have a garden, now is the perfect time to learn about what can (and cannot) grow beyond the usual geraniums.

The Telegraph says self-isolation has “sparked a gardening boom across Britain” and offers a useful list about what to plant now and where to get seeds, as well as answering all your key gardening questions.

Take part in a virtual pub quiz

Not being able to head to the pub for an after-work drink may be one of the hardest things about the current lockdown. But in a bid to fill the void left by bar closures, Brewdog has launched 102 “virtual venues” recreating its pubs across the UK, hosting quizzes, virtual tastings and giveaways over the coming weeks.

For those looking to improve their general knowledge whilst relaxing at the end of another day cooped up inside, the London Evening Standard has a round-up of the best virtual pub quizzes open to anyone in the country.

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