Keeping Busy During COVID-19

We’re coming up to week 9 of working from home and staying home as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic (well, for us in Toronto, anyway.)

There’s only so much lazing around, watching Netflix, that we can do before getting bored (not that that’s a bad thing, I’ve listed some shows I’ve binged below.)

I’ve gone through many different phases of trying new things during this time, some have stuck, others… not so much. I decided to put this blog post together and share what I’ve been up to over the last 9 or so weeks. So, if you’re looking for something to do, hopefully, this list will spark some inspiration!

In no particular order, here are 10 things you can do to keep busy during the pandemic:

1. Learn a new skill/language

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Duolingo, practicing French, Irish and Spanish. I set myself a modest target of 20xp per day, which is basically two lessons and only takes a few minutes to do each. I also only practice one language a week, which encourages me to spend time on that language before moving onto the next one. Mixing it up also prevents me from getting bored too quickly!

I’m also trying to learn Javascript, using Codecademy. I’m currently doing the Intro to Javascript course, which is free. Each lesson is short, easy to follow, and you practice tasks as you go, which helps you learn. Although sometimes after a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is Javascript, so I’ll admit I’ve been neglecting this one a bit!

2. Draw, paint, doddle

Something I haven’t done in a long time is drawing, yet throughout self-isolation, I’ve done a lot of painting, sketching and creating digital illustrations.

One of the first weekends of isolation, we picked up art supplies – canvas’, acyclic paints and paintbrushes – from Dollarama, found a Bob Ross video on YouTube, and attempted to follow along. Throw in some beer/wine, and it was a fun night in!

Something I’ve been doing a lot of is digital illustrations (plus, it’s not as messy as painting!) I’ve been using Adobe Illustrator and my Wacom tablet to draw portraits and more. You can see more of my digital art here.

Illustration of a grey tabby cat

I’ve found drawing during this time to be very therapeutic – it’s very relaxing – you can get lost in your drawing.

3. Read a book

I love getting lost in a good book! If you need a break from looking at screens all day, I recommend taking a break and reading.

Right now, I’m using a Kindle, so it’s super easy to buy and load new books onto it. I’m also using Goodreads to find new books and track my reading progress.

Some great books that I read recently and would recommend:

  • Recursion by Blake Crouch
  • The One by John Marrs
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • Half a World Away by Mike Gayle
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • The Dreamers by Karen Walker Thompson
  • The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I’m currently reading Where the Crawdads Sing. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. I’m always looking for books to add to my ‘to be read’ list!

4. Bake

I think baking is something almost everyone has tried at least once during the pandemic! Although I haven’t made banana bread, I have been baking cookies, pancakes and plan to make brownies too.

If you’re looking for a cookie recipe, I have recipes for Smarties cookies, peanut butter cookies and oatmeal cookies here. If you fancy making pancakes from scratch, I have some recipes here too.

5. Video call friends and family

Another thing we’ve been doing a lot is video calling family and friends. Personally, it’s been a great way for me to stay connected, and it can do wonders for your mental health during these unprecedented times while we can’t hang out with our friends and family.

To make video calls more fun, we’ve been doing quizzes and playing games using platforms like Kahoot and Jackbox.

6. Workout

After my gym closed and my teams’ basketball season was cancelled, I struggled to find the motivation to work out even though I’d consider myself to be a very active person.

I did try a military fit workout for a few weeks, which became tedious to do, and I quickly gave up on. But, I finally found something that I like: workout videos on YouTube! I particularly like Pamela Reif’s videos, she caters for home workouts, all fitness levels and her videos are anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes long, so you can choose a time length that suits you.

I’ve also picked running back up (thanks to the recent 5k challenge on Instagram) – it’s tough, but I always feel great afterwards (thank you, endorphins), so I’m trying to keep it up. I find it works best to just go at your own pace – slow and steady! I use Strava to track my progress and to see if I’m improving at all.

7. Video games

When I don’t feel like working out, and I just want to chill out and take it easy, video games are my go-to. I have spent a LOT of time playing Sims 4, especially (no regrets) and Gran Turismo.

8. Yoga

Something I’ve consistently been doing is yoga every morning. It gives me a routine to follow, and I find it’s a good way to start my day. It’s also great if you just need to take 20-minutes for yourself. Plus, it’s helping to improve my flexibility and lower back pain.

I’m a newb, so rather than looking for specific things to do every day, I’ve been following 30-day video series by Yoga with Adriene and YOGATX.

9. Watch a movie/TV series

I’ve binged lots of TV series and movies like many people, but here is what I’ve enjoyed most of the last few months, including new series, and classics that I’m rewatching:

TV:

  • Normal People
  • Upload
  • Hunters
  • The Last Dance
  • The Rookie
  • Jack Ryan
  • Broadchurch
  • Dublin Murders

And I’m rewatching:

  • Community
  • Parks and Recreation
  • The Simpsons
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Movies:

  • Parasite
  • Hustlers
  • Uncle Drew
  • Moana
  • Cool Runnings
  • Aristocats

In our household, we’ve begun a tradition of watching a Disney movie every Sunday, so that gives us something to look forward to and a sense of routine!

Open to recommendations for both TV series and movies, especially anything binge-worthy like Tiger King and Too Hot to Handle.

10. Self-care

Everything I’ve listed above can be deemed as self-care, but for me, self-care is about taking time to look after myself and make myself feel good.

My go-to self-routine at the moment is having a relaxing bath and doing a face mask. I think it’s important to take time for yourself, not only during the pandemic but all year round.

What are you doing to keep busy, entertained, or look after your mental health during these times? Share what you’re doing in the comments, and maybe you’ll spark some inspiration for others reading this.

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Digital Marketeer & Content Creator from Dublin, Ireland

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