Ways to Keep Yourself Busy While Self-Isolating at Home


Sydneysiders are undergoing a mandatory lockdown of two weeks as the latest wave of COVID-19 infections continues to rise.

Whether self-imposed social distancing or enforced self-isolation after contact with a confirmed case, we all need to do our bit to stay home, work from home and isolate until the situation eases.

Of course, lockdowns and stay at home orders are a lot for anyone to wrap their head around, both physically and mentally. And while we’re all for merely relaxing and using stay at home orders as something of a self-care break, others will find keeping busy helps them get through.

Keeping up connection is important, too, and supporting our friends, colleagues and loved ones is of the single best ways we can show our care. Not sure where to start? Take a look at our guide to supporting loved ones through self-quarantine and isolation.

But since you’re going to be spending a lot of time at home — time you’d usually spend in transit, engaging in extracurricular hobbies, or seeing pals — you’d be wise to fill those hours with some productive activities, too (something that isn’t solely binging Netflix, even though that’s fine, too).

So here it is: a comprehensive list of productive activities to occupy your body and mind in isolation. This is your chance to catch up on chores you’ve been putting off for weeks (read: months), tend to your home in a way you haven’t had a chance to yet, and take care of yourself.

For your home

Re-arrange your bookshelf

Just not by colour because that’s very Pinterest circa 2016. Over the weekend, or after finishing up work for the day, take the time to pull off all of your collected volumes, clean out the shelves of dust and dirt, then re-arrange according to the alphabet, genre, or author. You may come across some outdated novels you have no plans to read again, which you can donate next time you pop out of the house.

Clear out your closet

You. Have. No. Excuse. Now. There has never been a better time to purge your closet of the clothing you’ve neglected to wear for the last year or so. Bag up anything worth donating and hand off items to friends who’ve always admired your look, or sell on Facebook Marketplace or eBay, then enjoy your new-found cupboard space.

Do the deep clean

None of this idle spray and wipe business — we’re talking about a full deep clean of the oven interior, the skirting boards, and the inside of the fridge. Not sure where to start? How about with the seven germiest spots in the home.

Learn to cook something new 

You bought dried broad beans last week (because that’s all that was left on the shelf), now you’ve got a fun task ahead of you in learning what to cook with them. Take this opportunity to upskill in the kitchen and try and some recipes from that book your grandma gave you at Christmas.

Fix stuff

That squeaky door? Oil it. Your loose buttons? Sew them back on. You have the time now, so get around to those tiny chores you’ve been putting off consistently for months.

For your mind

Practice self-care

Self-care often falls by the wayside, but doing those little things for yourself is hugely important for your state of happiness and contentment. While you have this time, make sure to prioritise some of it for yourself, however you see fit. Take a long bath, pop on a leave-in hair treatment, or crack open that bottle of fine wine you’ve been saving.

Rewatch old TV shows 

We have proof that rewatching your favourite TV shows is not only a way of self-care, but can also provide comfort in a world we have little control over, kind of like a security blanket. Sure, use your time to do new things and upskill, but also feel like you can kick back and re-watch friends for the ninth time.

Pick up a new hobby 

Learn to knit! Learn to pickle things! Make your own sourdough! The options are endless and with an abundance of time, you’ll have a real shot at perfecting your craft.

Make a virtual book/movie club 

Our favourite. Take turns in the group chat to designate a movie everyone must watch (not Pandemic) or a book the group must-read. Exchange notes after the fact and enjoy feeling that sense of connectedness, despite the fact you’re not in the same room.

Learn something new 

Take an online course in a subject most intriguing to you. Digital resources like Khan Academy allow you to learn new lessons from the comfort of your own home on just about anything from coding and computer animation to world history and astronomy.

Do a puzzle or play a board game

If you’re self-isolating alongside a housemate, crack out a board game and pass some time rolling dice. We don’t recommend Pandemic, but Scrabble, Articulate and Monopoly are both fun and bring out the worst/most hilarious traits in a person. Puzzles are another great way to keep occupied — and the bigger, the better.

Check-in with loved ones

We imagine everyone will find periods of self-isolation challenging, but those who experience poor mental health might find isolation particularly hard and need some extra support. Check-in regularly with your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. Schedule FaceTime chats and find ways to take part in activities together, even from afar.

For your body

Stretch out

Without being able to visit the gym or go for a jog, you’d be wise to find other ways to limber up and flex your muscles. If you have a yoga mat, roll it out at least once a day to stretch out your back — particularly if you’re working from home and thus sitting at a set-up that’s not ergonomically designed for long-term work. Yoga or Pilates are fantastic methods of exercise for keeping fit while making little noise to disturb downstairs neighbours, plus, there are thousands of free guided workouts online.

Work on a special skill

Always wanted to touch your toes? How about do a headstand? Now is your time to work towards that little fitness goal. Chip away at it for a few moments each day and you’ll notice improvements in no time at all.

While this is a time to look out for number one, the measures in place are designed to protect those in the community more vulnerable to illness.

If you’re looking to help someone else out, here are 7 ways you can make a difference in your community during the coronavirus pandemic.

The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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