By now, you’ve picked up your year supply of toilet paper (please stop doing that) and stocked your shelves with lentils and rice.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has sent the world into a tizzy and brought out some really interesting personalities as we prepare to hunker down. Follow the advice of the World Health Organization, the Middlesex-London Health Unit, and your healthcare providers.

So what do you do now? Schools are closed, people are working from home, sports are on hiatus, restaurants and bars are not accepting dine-in customers, and concerts are being postponed. Physical distancing is in full effect and we learn every day of non-essential services closing down. How do we stay entertained in this time? There’s only so much Netflix one can watch in a day…

While the virus itself isn’t an automatic death sentence, it can be incredibly dangerous to the elderly and immunocompromised. You may be fine if you contract the virus, but that may not be the same for others that you come in contact with – so how to pass the time while being responsible?

Crave, Netflix, Apple TV and Such

If you don’t already have these streaming services, consider adding them for the free trial. Be sure to set a reminder to cancel before you have to pay!

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Baking shows – all of the baking shows. Illustration by Sammy Roach.

Branch out from your usual interests and check out those shows that all your friends were talking about! Catch up on the Oscar-nominated films! Rewatch those old favourites!

And don’t forget Spotify! All the music, all the time.

Reading

With the use of an eReader or even your phone, you can download books from London Public Library to read. There are also audiobooks and podcasts galore. Give Audible a try for free for a month!

Also, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have a whole shelf of books that you pretend to have read but really haven’t…

By using sites like Goodreads, you can track the books you have read and even connect with others in an online book club to discuss!

Learn How to Garden

Since spring is imminent, this is an ideal opportunity for you to learn how to grow your own food! You’ll be extra prepared for the next pandemic and have loads of fun (and frustration) growing a multitude of vegetables and herbs.

There are groups that do seed libraries and trades to help get you started.

Perpetual Learning

There are so many opportunities out there for lifelong learning. Sign up for a course at edX, and you can study anything from computer programming to art history.

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Now is the time! Illustration by Sammy Roach.

Here’s another library resource for you: Your library card gives you access to the giant library of courses at Lynda.com! Check out the London Public Library Lynda page for more info.

Arts and Crafts

Lately, I’ve had a hankering to take up cross stitch. It seems like a super fun activity and would allow me to be expressive in goofy ways. Most of these “trendy” arts and crafts are accessible with YouTube videos and supplies you can order online. We won’t see the same kinds of line-ups at Michaels for craft supplies, so what a time to finally learn how to:

  • Knit
  • Crotchet
  • Make jewelry
  • Cross-stitch
  • Sew
  • Paint
  • Journal

Gaming

This is the quintessential introvert activity. Take this opportunity to beat that level you’ve been meaning to master or to download the newest title in your favourite game series. To be honest, I’m utterly lost after Super Mario 3. I have been hearing about a Final Fantasy game coming out…

Board games too! Get your household together for rage-inducing rounds of Monopoly and cards. Nothing beats the boredom like forming alliances and then tearing them apart. I’ve had some luck lately on Facebook Marketplace tracking down some fun Trivial Pursuit versions (make sure it’s a no-contact sale!). Local favourite Uber Cool Stuff also has an amazing online selection!

Exercise

Aside from going for those nature walks, exercising at home is a great way to keep fit. Honestly, I have several DVDs and Wii games aimed to help me get in shape, and I never have the time. Staying indoors to be a good member of society is the perfect time to make exercise a part of your daily life, and help keep your immune system on track.

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Who needs a personal trainer when you have a cat? Illustration by Sammy Roach.

Check out sites like Fitness Blender for completely free workouts that you can do at home with little or no equipment. For a local option, here is a London gym that is offering free weeklong trials of their online classes. Keep stretching and keep limber!

Nature Walks

We wouldn’t recommend that you take the kiddos out to any playgrounds as the virus has shown that it can survive on surfaces for up to three days. Of course, you could spray it down with disinfectant spray — if you can find some!

But, if you want to head out for a safely distanced walk, check out our listings for some of the best hikes around London.

Surfing the Net

We’re really starting to see some amazing things come out of people across the globe to support physical distancing. Musicians are live streaming concerts, artists and performers are doing lessons online, and even the entertainment industry is uploading content online ahead of schedule.

Here in London, I came across a great Facebook group, The Social Distancing Movement. Members post activities each day to entertain families and offer places where you can offer help.

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Or, you can walk around the neighbourhood without leaving your house. Illustration by Sammy Roach.

And, check out these incredible virtual tours you can take of museums, parks, zoos and musical performances.

Spring Cleaning

This is probably the best thing you can do. Not only can you disinfect everything as you go, but it’s also so satisfying clearing out all the junk you’ve accumulated over the last year. A while ago, I learned about Swedish Death Cleaning and was enthralled. I had to clean out my grandmother’s apartment a few years ago, and all I could think of is all the things that she had that were of little or no use, and all the things that I had been holding onto for years.

Go through your things, Marie Kondo it all, and you’ll feel better for it! (Just hold off on donating it until the physical distancing measures have ceased.)

Connect

Most importantly, connect with your family and friends. Too often, we take our relationships for granted as we work and play and mindlessly go from one thing to the next. You don’t need to socially isolate from the people you are closest to. Take this chance to really talk to your kids, your partner, your parents, your sibling, your friends, your letter carrier. Build those relationships. Everyone is a little terrified right now, and reaching out to those that you care about will definitely soothe some of your (and their) fears.

 

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