How to pass the time during the Coronavirus lockdown

Ten tips to tackle lockdown boredom and cabin fever any Blursday

girl on laptop drinking coffee

On Day 20 (or 21 – who’s counting anymore?) of the official lockdown in the UK, with another two days of the long weekend and an extension imminent any hour now, how to endure another few weeks of the same?

While some may find a twisted sense of joy in no longer having to commute in the rush hour, or having seen their boss in their pajamas and others may have discovered the joy of baking, gardening or learning another language in a virtual classroom, others are already climbing the walls.

Let’s also spare a thought for those who are self-isolating alone, those who are on the 10th floor of high rises with not even a balcony to speak of, let alone a garden to exercise in, and those running out of ideas to entertain school-age kids.

If you haven’t got around to discovering them yet, there are a plethora of online activities to keep you sane when we find the new normal extended for a few more weeks.

Get fit in your living room

Did you, like me, in the last decade download the Seven Minute work-out or a similar app and delete it soon after when you realised you never used it and it was taking up storage space? Well now is the time to download it again. With gyms closed up and down the country and outside exercise options limited, you can still get your kicks online.

You can catch Joe Wicks, the nation’s PE teacher who runs 30-minute live sessions every weekday at 9am on his YouTube channel.

Also coming live is The Fitness Marshall with thirty-minutes sweat sessions right in your living room.

Other channels to check out include Cassey Ho’s Pop Pilates, combining upbeat music with pilates moves, Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home with walking exercises for all levels, and Venezuelan Latin dance specialist Karen Hauer’s Instagram Live workouts.

Get competitive with a quiz or five…

Pubs may be closed but the quiz must go on.

As was the case when Darwen, Lancashire local Jay Flynn’s idea to bring light-hearted fun to a few locals from the region went viral on 27 March when 300,000 people joined online, with players from as far and wide as New Zealand and US.

Flynn received thousands of messages and would try to get through them all over the next 24 hours, as well as post the answers on his Facebook page.

Since then, Flynn has become quite the quizmaster and you can see his weekly quizzes on his YouTube channel.

Hosted over on Mick Dore’s Instagram, The Alexandra’s quiz kicks off at 8pm every Monday evening. For eager beavers keen to get a head start,  Picture rounds go online at 4pm.

Fancy themed quizzes? Head over to Spectacular Pub Quizzes where you’ll be able to watch the live stream and interact with our quizmaster on the chat on the page. The chat link is emailed out on the day. There is a suggested donation of £5.

Spend a night at the museum

Fancy getting up close and personal with Gaugain or get to know Frida Kahlo better? Or would you rather go star-gazing through photos from space? You can do it all now right on your armchair thanks to Google Arts and Culture.

Google Arts & Culture’s collection includes the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and literally hundreds of more places where you can gain knowledge about art, history, and science.

You’re in good company too. London’s British Museum‘s online collection page jumped in mid-March from around 2,000 daily visits to 175,000. The National Gallery‘s online visitors have risen by 1,000% compared to this time in 2019.

Catch a play

Available until 16 April, you can catch National Theatre’s production of Charlott Bronte’s Jane Eyre, a collaboration with Bristol Old Vic without leaving your sofa. You can also check out what else they have in store on National Theatre at Home.

Elsewhere, Shakespeare’s Globe remains open too – virtually. Through the lockdown period, the world-famous theatre will bring six plays ix plays will all be shown for free via their YouTube channel, one at a time, on rotation every two weeks, as part of ‘YouTube Premieres’.

Join a book club

Publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove has launched a new virtual book club in which she will be in conversation with a Dialogue author about their book on Instagram live every Thursday at 8 pm.

With each book to be announced on a Friday morning in a newsletter as well as via Twitter and Instagram, the book club held the following Thursday, will then see the chosen author read an extract for 10 minutes after which there will be a wide-ranging discussion about the story, editing, characters, and publishing.

The authors who will be spotlighted are: on 16th April, Angela Chadwick (XX); 23rd April, Paul Mendez (Rainbow Milk); 30th April, Ben Halls (The Quarry); 7th May, Season Butler (Cygnet); 14th May, Mitchell S Jackson (The Residue Years); 21st May, Irenosen Okojie (Nudibranch); and 28th May, Lauren Wilkinson (American Spy).

Have a singalong with strangers

Nothing is more uplifting in times of trouble than a good singalong and being confined at home doesn’t mean you can’t join in. Look no further than The Sofa Singers, a free and weekly online singing event that brings hundreds of people together from around the world to spark joy and human connection.

Held on St Patrick’s Day, the first session’s 500 places were fast snapped up, with people joining in from as far afield as Kenya and Canada. As the places for the second session filled up, founder James Sills decided to live stream future singalongs on YouTube which means even if you can’t get a spot on the Zoom conference, you can still enjoy the sessions.

There is also Lifefullness Live which launched in late March and runs a daily sing-a-long at 5pm GMT. You can either join a video call near you to sing with your neighbours, or stream the event on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube and simply sing along at the top of your voice. The choirs will be lead by a different performer every day, like José Gonzales this Friday. 

Enjoy the sound of music

While the concert hall is closed, Berlin Philharmoniker is making its concerts available online for free, bringing good music straight to your home.

You can also catch daily concerts from Paris Philharmony Orchestra online.

Fancy a night at the opera? Then look no further than Royal Opera House offering a schedule of free Friday premieres and live content that audiences can access for free any time, anywhere.

Not a fan of classical music? Fear not, there’s also a little something for lovers of jazz music in the shape of Ronnie Scott’s Lockdown Sessions. You can join thousands on the British jazz virtuoso’s Facebook page or via YouTube.

Get baking

Follow Brickhouse Bread on Instagram for updates on their live tutorials for the ultimate isolation sourdough bread. Given the amount of free time on our hands, you can also trawl YouTube for countless recipes.

Another London bakery Bread Ahead live streams Instagram baking tutorials by its head baker every day at 2pm. So far he’s shown us how to make doughnuts, chocolate brownies and focaccia. The step-by-step guides are announced on Instagram the day before so you can get your ingredients without having to stockpile.

If like me baking is not your thing, you can always try your hand at Greek food with live Instagram cooking classes on Saturday evenings from The Athenian’s co-founder Tim Vasilakis or try your hand at Pan-Asian food with UK chain Wagamama’s online cooking videos on Wednesdays and Fridays presented by the restaurant’s executive chef Steve Mangleshot.

Take a hike… sort of

If we are in lockdown and can’t go to the National Trust gardens, National Trust will bring them to us – which is exactly what they’ve done with virtual tours of their gardens where you can watch the spring blossoms and their properties. What’s more their website is heaving with spring activities you can still enjoy in the comfort of your home.

Fundraise while working from home

Despite the government’s £750m aid package for the third sector announced last week, many small to medium size charities are already struggling with their fundraising efforts, with their face to face fundraising on hold and fundraising events cancelled.

While with impending economic uncertainty, times are tough for every one of us, there’s still some opportunity to donate though. Using the slogan ‘charity begins at WFH’, the Commit Your Commute initiative is asking people for a one-off donation of a minimum of £5 to charity – the equivalent to the average cost of a daily commute. The donations will go to Hospitality Action which has launched an emergency fund to support hotel, restaurant, pub and cafe workers hit by the closures.

Creating an opportunity out of crisis, charities such as Blue Cross, British Heart Foundation and Alzheimer’s Society are asking supporters to dedicate their daily exercise to fundraise for them.

If you’re more of an armchair fundraiser, Guide Dogs for the Blind is hosting the world’s largest virtual tea party on 21 April, National Tea Day.

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