Great Ideas to Keep Busy While ‘Social Distancing’

We know you’re struggling – cooped up indoors with the kids and spouse, or stuck at home alone, for weeks on end as we all do our part during this pandemic.  If you’re starting to look at your flatmate or family member with that look after being in close quarters for too long, don’t despair. We’ve thought of some things to help keep you busy, from learning a new skill to taking up a fun hobby.

2 Apr 2020 — / Entertainment / Fitness / Lifestyle
woman reading a book

Live your stay-at-home life to the fullest with these boredom-busting ideas!


Cook

woman cooking

You’re going to have to eat, there’s no doubt about that. Don’t delve into the frozen pizza or takeaway routine, now’s the time to try out some new recipes. Some of your favourite celebrity chefs have launched channels showing you how to whip up easy dishes during self-isolation.  

“Queer Eye” star Antoni Porowski brings you “Quar Eye: Cooking Lessons in Quarantine” via his Instagram page. He focuses on simple recipes using ingredients you can find in your cupboard, so even beginners can have a go at making a tasty “Keep Calm-lette”. 

Massimo Bottura, the famed Osteria Francescana chef, is also streaming cooking videos from his Instagram account. In “KitchenQurantine”, the three-Michelin-star chef hosts daily cooking lessons and shows how he prepares dinner while he’s under quarantine. The videos are entertaining and the recipes, like Japanese soup, are easy to follow. 

Fans of Jamie Oliver will be pleased to know he has a new series especially for these times called Jamie: Keep Cooking and Carry On, demonstrating how to cook with whatever ingredients you’ve got at home using tips, tricks and simple swaps.  

NOCHI (New Orleans Hospitality and Culinary Institute), a non-profit culinary school, is hosting “Cooking in Quarantine” lessons twice a week on Zoom. The virtual classes will help you plan healthful and flavorful meals, and are being offered on a pay-what-you-can basis. 


Running out of ingredients after tackling all these recipes? Stay safe at home and order from the many online grocery and gourmet food shops in the city.

 

Music

screen shot #togetherathome concerts

Always a comfort, music can fill the quarantine void and bring some uplifting moments alone or with others. If you don’t already have a Spotify account, get on it, as there’s millions of songs a click away for free to entertain you while you cook, clean or lounge.

There’s also some great sites bringing concerts to the home, like Global Citizen’s Together At Home virtual concert series. In partnership with WHO, it aims to help us all practice social distancing and promote global health with no-contact home concerts by artists like Chris Martin and John Legend.

The Berliner Philharmoniker has offered its Digital Concert Hall free to everyone during its closure, featuring some of the great conductors and soloists of our time. Enjoy live broadcasts, hundreds of archive concerts covering six decades, documentaries and interviews.

Also closed to the public but sharing its content free online is the Royal Opera House. Access spectacular performances in the #OurHouseToYourHouse series including shows like Peter and the Wolf.

Broadway fans will love the streaming platform BroadwayHD to get their musical and theatre fix. Hundreds of productions are available from old favourites like Cats to recent hits like Falsettos. A seven-day free trial is available to test it out, then you can pay monthly if you fancy.


 

Learn

No excuses, it’s time to finally learn that thing you’ve always to do but never had the time for. Is it being able to speak a foreign tongue, or properly play that guitar that’s collecting dust? You can do that and so much more without entering a classroom! 

Order your next fine French wine without embarrassment with online group or private tuition packages from Alliance Française Hong Kong. If it’s putonghua that you wish to master, My Mandarin House teaches one-one-on live Chinese courses online, with a free trial to see if it’s the right fit. 

Which instrument would you like to explore today? That’s what MusicSage wants to know. More than 100 private music tutors are available for online lessons in piano, guitar, flute, violin and even voice.

Maybe you’re tired of applying your eye makeup all wrong and really want to explore the world of makeup artistry? The Institute of Makeup Artistry in Hong Kong offers a Makeup Artistry Course online, ideal in the current climate. Study 12 comprehensive modules and 12 corresponding interactive assignments at home in your own time. 

Go beyond doodles and stick figures and learn how to draw. Really! Drawabox is made for those who don’t know where to start, with an exercise-based approach to learning the fundamentals of drawing. It’s also free, so there’s no pressure as you learn all about perspective, value, lighting and basic line work.

 

Read

woman reading, with coffee

If you’re like us, you’ve got one or two books sitting on the shelf at home with the spine uncracked. Take aside a quiet moment and escape with a good story, or read together with your family. 


For those who still like the feeling of flipping pages, there’s plenty of new releases and classic titles for purchase online. Local booksellers Swindon Books and Bookwise deliver straight to your door, Bookazine have a Whatsapp ordering/delivery service during the current crisis, and the international online bookstore Book Depository also ships to Hong Kong. 

There’s also a ton of e-books to devour, many available free through sites like Open Culture, or put down your e-reader and let someone do the reading for you. Explore an audiobook, many narrated by famous voices that you’ll get a kick out of hearing, such as Benedict Cumberbatch reading Sherlock Holmes.  Audible has a huge online library of audiobooks and it’s free for 30 days.

 

Create

woman drawing

There’s no need to go stir-crazy when you’ve got your mind and hands occupied. You’ll forget hours have passed by with a new creative project like making your own terrarium from Bonart. Order a DIY kit online and get your hands dirty with nature for an engaging and calming experience, leaving you with something pretty to have around the house after. 

Really let those creative juices flow through art. Maybe you have a boring wall at home that’s crying out for a mural or would like to try your hand at calligraphy? Molotow has the art supplies you need for your next large-scale masterpiece like paint and equipment, and an array of special calligraphy markers and sketchbooks to inspire you. 

Decorate a tired-looking ottoman or design your own outfit with the thousands of fabric options at modes4u. The options are endless at this online fabric store with 6500+ fabrics in unique patterns and materials like fleece, linen, canvas, organic cotton and much more. 

A wonderfully relaxing way to get your mind off things, and make something useful for yourself in the process, is old-fashioned knitting. Whether your skills go beyond a simple scarf or you’re holding those needles for the first time, The Knitting Room has lovely kits for all levels. Knit a comfy everyday beanie or a warm and cozy sweater, perfect for staying comfy while stuck at home.  Bonus: get free shipping in Hong Kong and 10% off your first order. 


 

Socialize

Time for some fun! It can be had, even within the confines of your home, thanks to apps that are bringing people together during this difficult period. Houseparty lets you join friends through group video chatting and do the things you would normally do at a friendly gathering, like charades or drinking games. 

Where would we be without Netflix during all this? There’s no need to binge-watch your favourite series alone, throw a Netflix Party instead.  Join your friends online, host long-distance movie nights and group chat to your favourite Netflix shows.

If it’s good conversation with mates that you’re missing, Discord is a fun way to communicate over voice, video and text. It can keep that book club going while social distancing, play board games, or simply hang out. 

A glass of wine (or two) will most likely be in order when partaking in the above, so stay well-stocked: local wine merchants Wine Moments can deliver their “QuaranWine Box” featuring a variety of wine (and a bottle of vodka) for the occasion. 

 

Fitness

woman doing yoga at home

Don’t let these days indoors alter your physical routine! Keep your body fit and your mental health in check with regular exercise. There’s no shortage of home workouts on YouTube to get you going, and local fitness experts are offering streaming fitness classes since you can’t go to them.

Fitness First Hong Kong  is hosting the Fitness at Home online series via their sister brands, for upper body and strength workouts. For fitness with beats, Dee Dream Life encourages you to dance it out at home with live Zumba, cardio hip-hop and Bollywood fitness online classes. 


If you desire something more chill, Vata Yoga Retreat has online Ayurveda yoga therapy and guided meditation classes. Finally, a unique way to burn calories is the Hong Kong Ballet’s [email protected] free online channel featuring interactive ballet content. This isn’t just for skilled ballerinas – enjoy ballet classes at home using only a chair with barre classes, or exercise with elegant ballet choreography at various levels. 

Find more online fitness ideas here!

 

Art

screen shot google arts & culture

Don’t leave anything in the oven after entering the Google Arts and Culture online platform, as you will soon forget the time. You will easily spend hours exploring art around the world through digital tours of more than 2,500 museums and galleries. Despite travel being on hold and museums temporarily closed, you can still visit New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and even our very own Hong Kong Heritage MuseumHong Kong Maritime Museum and others. 

Discover the exhibition rooms and galleries of The Louvre on a virtual tour and delight in exploring collections like Egyptian Antiquities without any crowds. Head over to Italy from the comfort of your sofa and check out some amazing 360° views of the Vatican Museums, with some stunning views of the Sistine Chapel and more.

 

Get advice on how to take care of your wellbeing and mental health in uncertain times. 


Nancy Matos is a lifestyle and culture writer from Vancouver, Canada currently based in Hong Kong and London.


 


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