self-isolation activities
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6 Creative Self-Isolation Activities That Don’t Involve a Binge Watch

Learn a new skill, play a challenging board game, or take a virtual tour through the most famous museums in the world.

As more cities go into lockdown mode and more people around the world retreat into their homes, there’s been a proliferation of recommendations online of books, movies and television shows to breeze through while in self-isolation (you can find our own guide here). But as it becomes increasingly likely that this period of social distancing will continue for at least the next few weeks, it’s time to start thinking of things we can do to pass the time that don’t involve turning on the TV. Read on for a list of self-isolation activities that will challenge your mind, engage your hands and offer a respite from the binge sesh on your couch.

Learn a new skill

Now’s a great time to fire up that Duolingo or Babbel app and refresh your knowledge of whichever foreign language you studied back in high school or college, or even learn an all-new language you’ve always dreamed of being able to speak fluently. According to LiveScience, “learning a second language may help improve brain function regardless of when you start.” If you’ve always wanted to learn how to draw or paint, order a box of supplies online or turn to the myriad apps available on the iPad to get you started, like Procreate, Linea Sketch and Paper by WeTransfer. If you’ve got kids in the house, keep them entertained with New York Times-bestselling author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s daily series that teaches young children how to draw.

Play some brain games

Classic board games—Scrabble, Pictionary, Monopoly—make for great screen-free activities during this period of self-isolation. You could also do a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle with the whole family, challenge your roommate or partner to a game of chess, or play a competitive game like Taboo or Charades. For a solitary activity that still challenges the brain, sign up for the daily New York Times Crossword, available to Times subscribers at 50% off, for 4 CAD/month or 24 CAD/year.

Take up a craft

Make your self-isolation activities productive. Take up needlework, knitting or any other craft-based activity that involves your hands. We Are Knitters sells a variety of kits for petit point, crochet and of course knitting, that include needles, yarn and pattern instructions. Toronto’s Rose City Goods offers a DIY Quilting Kit, which is available for purchase online at a discounted price of 54 CAD. The DIY Kit includes a cotton quilt top, cotton batting, two spools of cotton thread and sewing instructions.

Take online classes

Services like Coursera and Skillshare offer free online classes on a range of subjects, such as animation, creative writing and philosophy. For Ivy League-worthy classes, turn to EdX, which offers free online courses from 140 leading institutions like Harvard and MIT. For something a bit lighter, check out Daily Art, a free app that essentially functions as a mini crash-course in art history. Every day, it presents users with a new work of art—ranging from classic to contemporary—along with a short explanation of the story behind the artwork. The app is available in a range of languages, including Korean, Polish and French.

Take up a home organization project

You know that household chore you’ve been putting off for months? Now might be the time to actually do it. Whether that’s reorganizing your pantry, doing a spring clean of your closet to figure out what you’d like to keep vs donate, repotting your plants, organizing your bookshelves or sorting out that junk drawer (everyone’s got one)—there’s never been a better time to dive in. For some great DIY home ideas, follow blogs like Vintage Revivals and I Spy DIY for inspiration and useful tips.

Soak up some culture

Museums, theatres and concert venues may be closed for the foreseeable future but that doesn’t mean we can’t still get our culture fix. Musicians like John Legend and Neil Young have taken to live-streaming concerts from their living rooms, while The Metropolitan Opera in New York is offering a free opera stream every night. “We’d like to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times,” the Met’s General Manager, Peter Gelb, said in a press release. “Every night, we’ll be offering a different complete operatic gem from our collection of HD presentations from the past 14 years.” Meanwhile, museums like the Guggenheim in New York, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and the Tokyo National Museum offer free virtual tours, so you can experience their magic from the comfort of your couch. You can also go inside Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum and the Vancouver Art Gallery using Google Street View, and check out virtual exhibits from some of Canada’s other cultural institutions here.