30 things to do when stuck at home

There may be many reasons why you may be stuck at home. Bad weather, a sick kid, no transportation, temporarily unemployed, or… a global pandemic. Staying at home for an extended period of time can get anxiety-inducing and we soon start running out of ideas to keep ourselves busy and sane. I asked readers how they kept their sanity when stuck at home—here are a few suggestions for your inspiration.

  1. Rearrange the furniture. There is no evidence Feng Shui works, but if you haven’t bothered thinking about it since you moved into your place, being stuck at home may be a good time to figure out a more functional way to arrange your furniture.
  2. Draw or paint. Order a set of alcohol-based markers and some bleedproof marker pads, then watch YouTube videos to learn how to draw your favourite characters.
  3. Grow a plant. You don’t need to be an expert gardener nor to have a garden. In most countries, you can very easily order seeds online, and some plants are almost unkillable even inside and with very little light—think cacti, snake plants, spider plants, air plants.
  4. Dance in front of the mirror. Dancing is not only good for your mental health, it has a host of physical benefits. It can improve your cardiovascular health and strengthen your muscles, balance, and coordination. Dance like no one’s watching! (maybe no one is)
  5. Try a new video game. Ideally, avoid addictive ones. Some calming games include Monument Valley and Alto’s Odyssey (free for the next week)—both are relaxing and beautiful. If you’re feeling super inspired, you may even try and create your own game (old but solid guide to get started).
  6. Listen to music. Don’t just play your usual playlist or let Spotify decide for you. Pick an artist you’ve been curious about, and systematically listen to their most popular songs. Read their biography. Study the lyrics. Be genuinely curious about their work.
  7. Sort your clothes. There is a Mari Kondo documentary on Netflix—which I haven’t watched but could give you some inspiration. Get rid of what you never wear anymore. Don’t have much clothing? This works for any of your stuff in general. You likely have too much.
  8. Keep a journal. You can use a journal either as a way to take care of your mental health, or as a way to record your experiences for posterity. If you want a quick and easy way to get started, try Plus Minus Next journaling.
  9. Start a blog or newsletter. If you like writing, share some of your writing online. Blogs are extremely flexible. You can write essays, tutorials, short opinion pieces. If you also launch a newsletter, join the Newsletter Geeks group to chat with other newsletter owners.
  10. Cook. Try one of these recipes that take a few hours to cook and which you’ve never had time to experiment with before. Making lasagna from scratch would take about six hours.
  11. Make your own bread. The simplest recipes only call for yeast, flour, and water. But you can get creative with olive oil, herbs, and more. One of Ness Labs’ readers mentioned focaccia—who doesn’t like focaccia?
  12. Don’t forget ice cream. Take care of dessert while you’re in the kitchen. Home-made ice cream doesn’t have to be complicated. You could use some ripe bananas and add some flavour. See some examples here from the One Ingredient Chef.
  13. Watch some TED talks. There is a list of the 25 most popular TED talks of all times. That’s eight hours of thought-provoking content from the comfort of your couch.
  14. Meditate. Many people struggle to build a meditation habit. If the reason why you have been struggling is a lack of quiet time, it may be worth giving it another try. Apps like Headspace make it easy to get started.
  15. Learn how to code. You just need a laptop and an Internet connection. Codecademy and freeCodeCamp are good places to start for free, or you may want to invest into a course on Udemy. Start with something small like creating your personal page.
  16. Make some video calls. Think about a friend or a family member you haven’t talked to in a while. Give them a call. Turning the video on can be intimidating for some, but try to do it if you can—you will feel closer to the person you call.
  17. Organise a virtual meetup. Want to take it to the next level? Make it a group call. It could be casual, just bringing friends together for a group chat, or a bit more formal, where you would help moderate the conversation. Zoom and Houseparty are probably more stable if you’re going to have a larger number of people join the video call.
  18. Play a board game. It’s an old school way to keep busy, but there’s a reason why board games are so popular. Some of the best sellers include Catan, Monopoly, Clue, Trivial Pursuit, and Scrabble.
  19. Exercise. No need to go outside to stay in shape. Many indoor fitness apps are offering discounts at the moment. Freeletics is a good option.
  20. Take a nap. By this point, you must be pretty exhausted. Taking a nap is a perfectly valid activity. For a full cycle, sleep for 90 minutes.
  21. Launch a YouTube channel. You’re probably already watching lots of videos on YouTube. Launching your own channel could be as low effort as a daily vlog, or an opportunity to pick up some video editing skills.
  22. Launch a podcast. Maybe video is not your thing. Did you know it was possible to record podcasts 100% remotely? Reach out to some of your favourite influencers and interview them. Open Podcast is a friendly community to learn more about starting your own podcast.
  23. Take an online course. Always wanted to learn UX design or how to take effective notes? There is an online course for everything. You could even get a college-level education by selecting the right courses on edX—introduction to computer science from Harvard followed by molecular biology from MIT, anyone?
  24. Create an online course. It may sound daunting, but there is probably something you can teach the world. With platforms such as Podia and Teachable, it has become easy to host an online course. You just need to figure what to teach and who you want to help. Creating an online course is extremely time consuming. Better to commit only if you know you’ll be stuck at home for a long time.
  25. Play LEGO. LEGO have been used to foster teamwork and communication in workshops and classrooms. Creative and relaxing, they’re also an amazing way to pass the time.
  26. Make candles. This is a very cheap hobby and there are many tutorials online. You just need a bit of wax, a heat source, and some time.
  27. Read a book. Or re-read one. Bonus points if you take some notes.
  28. Write a book. According to one of these popular yet unverifiable statistics, 80% of Americans have a book in them. If that’s your case—whether or not you’re American—why not give it a proper go?
  29. Be your weird self. When researching for this article, I had some people tell me they are learning how to keep backyard chickens, or that they installed a dance pole in their living room, or started crocheting. There are so many options.
  30. Do nothing. Or, you could… Just chill. Rediscover what it feels like to be bored, to let your mind wander, to be proactively unproductive.

I didn’t include some recommendations such as yoga, as most experts recommend to attend a class before practicing it on your own. The list could be longer but I only included options that require little to zero experience, and almost no material, or very cheap and easy to order online.

Most importantly: don’t push it. Sometimes feeling like doing nothing is exactly what it says on the tin—your body telling you it needs to do nothing. It’s perfectly acceptable and even healthy to not be productive all the time. It’s all about balance and designing a sustainable routine.

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