Many of us need to find ways to stay positive and feel productive at the moment, so we take a look at how you can use this time as an opportunity to learn something new, or pick up a new hobby.
1. Bake bread, biscuits and other goodies
Lots of people are taking to their kitchens, donning their aprons and creating their own culinary delights. You really don’t need to buy a new recipe book or expensive ingredients to get started.
The Big Bakes will be posting three short baking tutorials on their social media platform each week. Their aim is to encourage people to get into baking whilst they’re on lockdown. It’s free to join in. Simply search for @Thebig_bakes on Instagram or Facebook for more information, and to find out what ingredients you need ahead of each class. We love the look of these biscuits which only require three basic ingredients.
And if you’re a fan of the Great British Bake Off, Mary Berry’s site includes traditional desserts like lemon tart, chocolate roulade and victoria sponge, to name a few. Or head to Paul Hollywood’s website to get free recipes from the king of baking himself. These include classic comfort food like meat and potato pie, cornish pasties and fish pie. His sourdough and shortbread wouldn’t go amiss either.
2. Brush up on your cooking skills
In response to COVID-19 and the closure of restaurants in the UK, Jamie Oliver has decided to step in and inspire Brits to ‘keep cooking and carry on’. His new TV programme is being aired at 17:30 every weeknight on Channel 4 from 23rd March, until the following Friday. And it includes tips on how to make the best of what you’ve got in your kitchen cupboard. You can also find free recipes by Jamie Oliver on his website, so you don’t have to order one of his books to benefit.
Maybe you fancy something a bit different or want to impress your other half on a ‘date night’ at home? If so, you might be interested to know that Michelin star chef Massimo Bottura is offering free cooking classes via live video link on Instagram @massimobottura at 7pm each evening.
3. Learn a foreign language
Have you always wanted to learn a language but have never had the time? Now could be the perfect opportunity to flex your linguistic muscles and keep your brain active.
Rosetta Stone is offering a 3-day free trial on its website. Its award-winning app covers 24 languages, including French, German and Spanish. After the introductory offer is over, there are a range of options available: three month’s worth of French lessons could cost you £16.33 per month; or 12 months access to all languages could cost you £13.25 per month.
Alternatively, consider a free language course with the Open University. You can study from home and pick a level that you are comfortable with. Or use free resources on the BBC website for beginners and beyond. Their page includes audio, games and exercises for beginners and beyond, as well as links to articles and radio stations in your chosen language.
4. Go out in the garden
There are many benefits to gardening, if you’re lucky enough to have your own outdoor space. It’s good for both the body and mind and helps us to live in the moment and enjoy nature.
If you’re new to gardening, the RHS website has a useful beginners guide including a jargon-buster glossary to help you sort your deciduous trees from your evergreens. They also provide tips on jobs you need to do, depending on the month of the year.
Also, on Gardener’s World you can discover 10 ways to garden during self-isolation, such as feeding birds, getting house plants, sowing seeds, or making a bee hotel. There’s a whole range of tips covering things like how to plant for beginners, grow vegetables, plus 9 ways to add colour to your garden.
5. Learn to play an instrument
Fancy yourself as a bit of a guitar superstar? Well, Fender is giving away three month’s worth of free online guitar lessons. The app is available on Apple iPhone, iPad and Android. You can learn popular songs at your own pace and track your progress as you go using their video tutorials.
If you fancy learning a different instrument, there are loads of free tutorials on YouTube, including top 5 piano exercises for beginners.
6. Take up knitting or crochet
Knitting and crocheting have come back into fashion. And as well as passing the time and learning a new skill, there are also several health benefits linked to this hobby. According to a report by Knit for Peace: “There is an enormous amount of research showing that knitting has physical and mental health benefits, that it slows the onset of dementia, combats depression and distracts from chronic pain,”
All you need is some yarn and a pair of knitting needles to get started. HobbyCraft has a whole section on their website dedicated to knitting and crochet, with some items currently on offer. Amazon also stocks a range of equipment from different suppliers.
Popular online tutorials include Kristin's Crochet Tutorials and Hobby Lobby on YouTube. For example, this video on ‘how to crochet’, has had over 1 million views. Kristin takes things slowly for beginners, and the good thing with videos is you can pause and rewind them if you get stuck.
7. Write a novel
Ever wanted to write a novel? Now you can get expert advice from Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, which has recently been made into a TV series. She helps you to create a plot and bring your characters to life, through her online videos. This service costs £14.17/month (billed annually).
Or, the Open University offers free creative writing lessons for free. Just visit their website here to sign up.
Stuck for inspiration? Consider getting the Writing Challenge app on iOS and Android (£1.99). It generates ideas and suggestions to help conquer writer’s block. You can also get your mates involved and take it in turns to write sections of the story. Or you can set yourself a challenge to write against the clock.
8. Learn first aid
Also, St. John’s Ambulance is giving away free first aid pocket guides to educate people about the basics. You just need to visit their website and enter your name and address to claim one. They also have a free app and downloadable posters.
9. Meditation and yoga
During this time of uncertainty, we all need to find ways to relax. Meditation and yoga are great ways to generate mindfulness and reduce anxiety.
The meditation app, Headspace, has a two-week trial that you can take advantage off to help you unwind. This will provide you with friendly guidance from a former monk called Andy Puddicombe. After the introductory period, an annual subscription costs £49.99 (which is £4.17 per month). You will then gain access to further meditations which focus on things like stress and sleep for example.
Or you could unleash your inner yogi for free, by following Yoga with Adriene. She has over 6 million YouTube subscribers and offers friendly yoga practices in the comfort of your own home. Her videos cover all sorts of topics (from anxiety to yoga for risk takers), and you can focus on videos aimed at beginners if you haven’t tried it before.
10. Get fit
There are plenty of ways to stay fit and active at home include HIT exercises, sit-ups and weights, to name a few. During the COVID-19 outbreak, several celebrities have decided to help the nation to stay fit or get fit whilst in self-isolation.
For example, professional dancer, Dianne Buswell from Strictly Come Dancing is on a mission to get people dancing around their living rooms. So she is posting videos on Instagram @diannebuswell with dance videos that people can follow at home.
And you might have heard already that Joe Wicks (A.K.A) ‘The Body Coach’ is hosting free PE lessons for kids each week-day morning, live at 9:30 am on his YouTube channel. This could get the day off to a good start.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.