We all have stuff we’ve been putting off. Stuff we’ll “get around to”. Stuff we’ve been waiting to do on a free weekend.

Well, thanks to these intermittent lockdowns, we've had to clear our schedules. And while it may be tempting to rewatch Friends on a never-ending loop (and we wouldn’t judge you for it), it’s probably better for our mental health if we weave some stimulating activities in here and there.

Things might be a little scary and uncertain right now, but we can still make the most of our time at home by ticking off our to-do lists and trying some new self-isolation activities.


1. Plan Your Next Holiday

OK, so we can’t take a vacation any time soon, but it’s important to have something to look forward to during tough times. Research shows that anticipating a positive event can help reduce negative emotions, increase positive emotions, and improve our ability to cope after a stressful event.

So what are you waiting for? Make a travel bucket list and start mentally packing your bags!


2. Start the List of 100 Must-Read Books

What do you mean you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice? Now’s your chance to immerse yourself in all the popular cult classic books, from Charlotte’s Web and Harry Potter to The Great Gatsby and Romeo and Juliet.

Many avid readers rely on Amazon’s famous list of 100 Books to Read in Your Lifetime as their literary guide. This list is featured on the website List Challenges, where you can keep track of how many books you’ve read compared to other readers, and rank them based on your personal opinions.


3. Plant a Veggie/Herb Garden

Planting a veggie or herb garden is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air – particularly important if you’re holed up at home 24/7. And if you’re successful, it’ll save you some trips to the grocery store down the track.

Bunnings has some handy tips for all you green thumbs looking to start a veggie garden here.


4. Learn a New Skill

The internet is rife with free tutorials and how-to guides. Whether you’re looking to learn how to play the keyboard, speak Japanese, or knit a sweater, you’re sure to find instructions online.

Or you can up your professional skillset by enrolling in a short course on Skillshare or LinkedIn Learning. These online learning platforms offer courses taught by real-world professionals, with topics spanning everything from creative writing and content marketing to photography and calligraphy.


5. Start a Hobby Blog

A hobby blog is a great side project for anyone looking to share their knowledge, opinion, and ideas about a niche topic. You can connect with likeminded people all over the world, you can upload posts at your own pace, and you could potentially end up making money (or getting free stuff) from it.

Whether you’re passionate about cooking, sport, music, or your new veggie garden, we couldn’t think of a better time to start writing about what interests you.


6. Make a Vision Board

You don’t have to believe in the power of manifestation or the law of attraction to enjoy the benefits of making a vision board.

A vision board (or dream board) is an inspirational collage that visually represents your dreams and goals. They usually have images and words that allow you to picture your ideal future. This could be a photo of your dream house, magazine cut outs of your ideal holiday destination, and an inspirational quote or affirmation.

Even if you think vision boards are bogus, creating yours could still be a fun way to spend a couple of hours.


7. Become Pen Pals with Your Friends/Family

Yes, letters are still a thing. And you can make receiving mail even more exciting for a loved one by adding a thoughtful surprise.

For example, you might like to include a photo with a fun memory, or a ticket from a concert or movie you saw together.


8. Try New Recipes

Working from home sure has its perks, and being closer to the kitchen is one of them. Use the time you used to spend commuting to find tempting new recipes to try.

If you’re running low on ingredients and are avoiding grocery shopping as much as possible, check out Taste’s new website section The Keep Calm Kitchen. Intended to help you stay prepared during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s chock-full of smart meal-planning ideas, clever ingredient swaps, and easy recipes.


9. Clean and Organise Your Cupboards

We all have that one dreaded junk drawer filled with old unopened mail and almost-empty rolls of sticky tape. Or that cupboard under the sink spilling Tupperware containers with missing lids. Now’s your chance to give those clutter-prone areas some TLC and go full Marie Kondo on your house.

Bin the out-of-date food in your pantry. Donate the clothes you no longer wear. Alphabetise your DVD collection. Whatever you need to do to make your space a little more organised, this is the time to roll up your sleeves and get it done.


10. Make a Photobook

Chances are you have a phone filled with photos you’d rather not forget. Spend a weekend sorting through your photos and creating photobooks on a website like Snapfish or Photobox.

This is a great way to take your time to reminisce on special moments and notable events like birthdays, anniversaries, and beyond. Photobooks also make a personal Christmas gift that’s sure to score you brownie points with the rellies.


Bonus Tip: Relax

Sure, self-isolation has us cancelling our social calendars and missing our favourite weekend spots. But it’s also forced us to slow down, take a breath, and relax.

While many of us are suddenly baking banana bread and hitting the home-workouts hard, it’s important to look after yourself with some downtime, too. These are stressful times, and we’ve all earned some R&R.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might find our tips to protect your emotional wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak helpful. Or you can call our telephone counsellors on 1300 364 277 between 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 10am-4pm Saturday.