With coronavirus shutdown, billions of us are looking for ways to stay entertained at home.
But 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 is a set of paints and brushes, a palette, a surface to paint on (canvas or paper) – all available to buy online at Art Discount, 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
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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 expert-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 lots of different topics.
There are 14 languages to choose from and a lot of learning material to keep you busy.
Want to take up a hobby that’s a little more old-school? Knitting is probably one of the most mindful pursuits going, thanks to its repetitive nature.
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.
Masterclass is an online platform that gives users access to tutorials from some of the world’s leading experts in various fields. If you’ve always had an urge to give photography a go, this service a great place to start.
Acclaimed portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, who has snapped everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to John Lennon, heads up this 15-lesson video course.
She’ll teach you how to develop concepts, work with subjects, shoot with natural light and bring images to life in post-production.
5. Creative writing
Future Learn run free online creative writing courses that are 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?
6. Learn to play the guitar
If you want to transform your shudder-inducing, string-twanging into a genuinely pleasant sound, there’s no better time to finally get to grips with the acoustic guitar.
Brit Award-winning folk artist Laura Marling is running a series of ‘isolation guitar tutorials’ every Tuesday and Sunday on her Instagram page.
She’ll break down the basic chord progressions in some of her most famous songs, so you’ll be strumming along in no time at all.
Whether you’re looking to improve your flexibility or progress to some impressive inversions, use your recouped commute time to pack in a good stretch in the morning.
8. Start a podcast
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Got something to tell the world? Why not use this time to start a podcast. The bare minimum you need to record is a computer with a USB microphone and access to the internet.
Bear in mind that it might not sound as polished as the likes of podcast hosts Fearne Cotton or Peter Crouch, but you can progress to higher quality equipment once you’ve tried your hand at a pilot episode.
All you really need is an idea and the conviction to get going, but there are lots of helpful articles online about how to develop your format and find your listeners, as well as the recording, editing and publishing process.
9. Music production
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Moog Music has made its music-making app available for free, so anyone can try their hand at creating a hit song.
The Model D app is a faithful reproduction of the original analogue circuit designs of the world’s first portable keyboard synthesizer, allowing you to create some classic Eighties sounds. Calvin Harris, eat your heart out.
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.