50 Great Things to Do in Lockdown

Instead of focusing on the (very long) list of what you can't do, here are some productive ways to pass the time.

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Women looking at phone in distress.

Things to Do in Quarantine: 50 Productive Ways to Pass the Time

Who’d have guessed back in March 2020 that many of us would be in the middle of another lockdown more than a year later? Although working from home and social distancing have become the new norm, it doesn’t mean life during the pandemic is any easier, or that the future’s any less uncertain. The next time you find yourself dwelling on all the things you can’t do because of the lockdown, instead think of the opportunities that this time spent at home presents. From learning new skills to pampering yourself, this list of things to do in quarantine is about reconnecting with what makes you happy—or at the very least, helping you make it through this impossible time with your sanity intact.

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Exterior of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City
Photo: Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Take a virtual museum tour

Explore Egyptian relics at the Louvre, the famous spiral staircase at the Guggenheim, and the masterpieces at the Van Gogh Museum—all from the comfort of your couch. Canada’s Aga Khan Museum is now offering immersive 3-D tours. And, thanks to Google’s Arts & Culture project, the ROM’s Blue Whale exhibit, as well as hundreds more around the world, can all be viewed crowd-free from your home.

Check out more of the world’s most popular museums.

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women in online class on laptop

Learn a new language in lockdown

Want to know how to say, “lockdown stinks” in five other languages? Now is a great time to learn or practice a new language. Duolingo is an easy-to-use, totally free app that gives daily lessons in 35 different languages. You can pick a standard like English, Spanish, or Cantonese, or you can branch out with Navajo, Esperanto, and Klingon or High Valyrian (we’re not kidding).

Here are the Spanish phrases everyone should know.

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Grandma looking at old photos with grandson.

Connect with your quarantined ancestors

This is certainly not the first pandemic the world has had to deal with and chances are you have a great-great-grandparent who lived through the 1918 flu pandemic. Find out more about their story and how they survived it through pictures, journal entries, and historical records. You can also find out more about your personal ancestry, which dead celebrities you’re related to, which relative you look the most like, how closely you’re related to your spouse or friend, and much more.

Check out what happened when these five Canadians discovered their AncestryDNA results!

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Man meditating on desk.

Actually meditate

Meditation is one of the best things you can do right now to relieve stress and improve your wellbeing. If you’re like the rest of us, you sit down, try to “quiet” your mind… and then say “Well, now what?” Download Aura, an app that walks you through meditation and mindfulness. It’s offering a free three-month subscription, which includes unlimited access to their expert-created mindfulness meditations, life coaching, inspiring stories, and music.

Here’s what could happen when you start meditating every day.

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Family watching movie in home theatre.

Set up a home movie theatre

Movie theatres under lockdown are closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your cinematic fix. At-home movie projectors have gotten a lot smaller and less expensive in recent years, allowing you to project a new release or family-friendly classic on any blank wall. Pop up some popcorn, set up the pillows, and enjoy the show!

These are the best movies on Netflix Canada right now.

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Women writing in journal

Write in a journal

Sitting at home binge watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix may not feel like you’re doing much, but you’re actually living through a major historical event that people will learn and talk about for generations after this is all over. Writing a journal will help you not just preserve your memories but will also help you process your feelings about this time that manages to feel simultaneously terrifying and immensely boring.

Find out how keeping agratitude journal can actually make you happier.

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women knitting

Knit a bad hair day beanie

Needle arts used to be a staple for passing the time while making something useful and pretty. You can learn to knit, cross-stitch, embroider, crochet, or tatt with a YouTube tutorial.

Find out the best hobby for you, according to your star sign.

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Old Man Planting

Plant a container garden

Just because you have to stay indoors doesn’t mean you can’t get started on your spring gardening. Bring the outdoors in by sprouting seeds or planting a container garden. Bonus: You can use your fresh herbs in your amazing healthy dishes you’re learning to cook.

Find out the easiest foods to grow at home during COVID-19.

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women putting on eyeliner.

Perfect your cat eye with liquid eyeliner

Drawing a smooth even cat-eye with liquid eyeliner is some advanced makeup skills. Then, once you figure it out, you have to replicate it exactly on the other eye! Nobody has time for that on a busy morning rushing out the door for work—but now that you’re only commuting to your bedroom you have plenty of time to experiment.

Here’s why learning new skills as an adult is easier than you thought.

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Women Bathing

Take the best bath ever

Bath lovers rejoice: Quarantining is the perfect opportunity to take the long, luxurious bath of your dreams. You can even soak all day if you like! All you need is a good book, a favourite beverage, and some yummy-smelling bath products.

How many of these showering mistakes are you making?

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Women Making Green Juice With Mixer

Fortify your immune system with green juice

Whipping up a produce-packed smoothie or a green juice may be too much work on a normal morning but what is normal anymore? These days it’s more important than ever to support your immune system and your waistline with plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies.

Follow these other simple tips to boost your immune system.

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Father and daughter laughing at a video.

Take a (virtual) world tour

Ever wanted to see the Alps up close? Hike Machu Picchu? Stroll through Barcelona? You can do all that without worrying about spreading disease through virtual tours—consider one of these virtual day trips you can now take online.

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tie dye hangs outside

Upgrade an old shirt with tie-dyeing

Tie-dyeing isn’t just for kids or people who never outgrew the ’70s—it’s a versatile art form that is fun and easy to do. Upgrade a T-shirt, pair of leggings, baby onesie, hat or any other cotton item.

Check out the best-reviewed board games to play during lockdown.

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old man stretching

Stretch and strengthen with yoga

Do Yoga with Me is offering its high-definition yoga videos for free during the pandemic. They have classes ranging from stress-relieving breathing exercises to popular yoga poses to regular flows—no prior experience (or flexibility!) required.

Suffering from soreness? These yoga poses can help relieve back pain.

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Women painting at home.

Create some quarantine art

Channel your feelings by doing something creative. Painting is a great way to express yourself, learn a new skill, and help you see ordinary things (like everything in your house you’ve been staring at for the past year) in a whole new way.

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Women on phone.

Talk to a therapist

Feeling stressed and anxious? Try teletherapy. You can arrange online sessions that allow you to video chat, call, or text with a therapist without ever leaving your house.

Here are the signs you could use the help of a therapist.

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women painting toe nails.

Get your feet sandal-ready

Eventually, you’re going to be able to leave your house and when you do it will likely be warm enough for sandals. Keep your feet from looking like they were quarantined with a werewolf by doing a little prep work now. Use a foot soak to soften everything, push back your cuticles and trim your nails, paint your nails, pluck any rogue toe-hairs, and—this is the best part—buff the dead skin off your heels.

Check out more tips for healthy, gorgeous nails.

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Man Washing Hair

Maintain your mane

With salons being closed, people are being forced to learn to do their own manicures, hair trims, and even dye jobs. Aim to be your best self, inside and out by becoming your own hairstylist. Keep up with your hair health routine through neatly trimming, dying and using a hair mask.

Don’t miss the inspiring story of how one woman is embracing grey hair during COVID-19.

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women taking online class.

Take a history class

So many interesting things to learn but so little time? No problem now. Edx offers free university courses—including from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University of California, Berkley—in hundreds of subjects. Brush up on skills for your job or take a course in something purely for fun, like astronomy or history. You don’t get official credit for them but you get to keep all the knowledge you learn.

Test your knowledge with these history questions people always get wrong.

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Couple in bed.

Try something new in the bedroom

Nothing relieves stress and adds some fun like some good sex and thanks to the quarantine you don’t have to resort to quickies to get your fix. Not to mention that sex can be great exercise! Use this time to try out new positions, role play, or toys. (Although parents with children home may find this a little more challenging!)

Here’s how to be a better lover in six steps.

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Man reading book.

Read a happy book

The antidote for all the doom and gloom news you’ve been reading lately? An ebook about happiness, success, self-help, or another positive subject. Sure, romance or sci-fi novels count too! Ebooks come in a wide variety of subjects, are instantly readable on a device, and are delivered 100 per cent germ-free making them the perfect activity for those staying in to avoid illness.

Take a peek at the latest Reader’s Digest Book Club pick!

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Person Making Bread

Learn to bake homemade bread

There is no smell better than fresh bread baking, but it can feel daunting for beginner bakers who don’t know what “proofing yeast” even means, much less how to do it. Plus, who has the time to sit around rising, kneading, and then baking dough? You do, now! If you’re already a pro, take this opportunity to learn how to bake a new type of bread, like sourdough, and share this skill with someone else while you’re at it.

These easy bread recipes are a great place to start!

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Person playing sudoko

Play some brain games

Keep your mind active and agile can be a challenge when you’re stuck in a quarantine. Thankfully there are plenty of fun and educational brain games to help you stay sharp. Lumosity is an app developed by neuroscientists with over 60 games designed specifically to boost cognition and memory. It’s available on Apple, Android or computer.

These free brain games will help you get smarter during the lockdown.

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women listening to podcast.

Find a new favourite podcast

Podcasts—audio programs that you listen to through your phone—are one of the best ways to become smarter in your spare time. With subjects ranging from comedy to history to fictionalized drama, there’s something for everyone. You’ll be amazed at how fast time flies when you’re listening to a riveting story. Need a family-friendly option? Be sure to listen to these amazing history podcasts.

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home office space

Organize your home office

With so many Canadians still working from home, it’s no surprise that home office arrangements for small spaces are in high demand. And you deserve better than your laptop on a sticky table with cords snaking around your feet! Take the time to re-evaluate your WFH situation, and set apart a dedicated space to work—even if it is your dining table. These working from home tips can also help.

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Person Cleanig Window

Clean your windows

Because you’re constantly looking through them, not at them, you never realize how dirty your windows really are until you clean them. The world will suddenly start to look a lot less dreary and more hopeful if you scrub the dirt and grime off your glass.

Don’t miss these cleaning tips that actually work.

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Person tying shoe laces.

Go for a walk or run

You are still allowed to go outside for exercise, albeit not in groups and while staying at least six feet away from others. This is something you should take advantage of daily as exercise and fresh air are two of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health.

Find out what happens to your body when you start walking 10,000 steps a day.

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Man playing game on phone.

Press the big red button

Exhausted all your options and can’t think of a single thing to do to pass the time? Go to Bored Button and, well, press the button. It will take you to one of thousands of decidedly not-boring sites, keeping you entertained for hours.

Check out our free online games, too!

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Child finishing jigsaw puzzle with parents
Photo: Shutterstock

Finish a puzzle

Now is the perfect time to pull out an impossible-to-solve puzzle from that dusty spot in your closet. Or, try your quarantine team out on a new 1,000-piece challenge. If you can’t get your hands on a new puzzle–one Canadian retailer remarked that “puzzles are the new toilet paper”—there are plenty of free online jigsaw puzzles to stump (and delight) you.

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Woman watching a live show on her laptop
Photo: Shutterstock

Catch a free live show

Ottawa’s National Arts Centre launched Canada Performs as a way to showcase artists from across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Catch live shows day and night featuring musicians, authors, comedians, and more. You can also catch a laugh with free interactive improv performances from Second City. Or, The Play Thing offers live performances of Canadian plays. Encore!

Looking for laughs right now? Check out the best Reader’s Digest jokes of all time.

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Four cards showing Aces
Photo: Shutterstock

Deal me in

Join your friends or family for a game of cards online. Choose from one of the many websites offering free group games, including euchre, hearts, bridge, and more. Bonus: with an algorithm shuffling the deck, it’s a whole lot harder for grandpa to cheat.

Read the heartwarming story of how euchre helped a grieving family heal.

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Millennial male in his kitchen using his smartphone
Photo: Shutterstock

Make new friends

You don’t need to leave your house to make a new pal. A free app called Quarantine Chat is connecting thousands of strangers worldwide. Once you sign-up, you’ll get random calls throughout the day. Talk to your new friend about anything you like: your spring cleaning rituals, your latest online purchase, or your favourite binge-worthy show.

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Two female friends having a dance party in their home
Photo: Shutterstock

Dance the night away

Choose your favourite tunes and host an online dance party with your friends—or join one of the many group dances that have popped up. If you want to recreate a club atmosphere, check out Club Quarantine, a virtual club founded by a group of Canadians that’s since attracted thousands of virtual party-goers (including a few famous ones). But, be ready: just like a real dance club, this one’s best for adults only.

Mix yourself one of these tasty quarantine cocktails while you’re at it!

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Man sewing a button onto his collar shirt
Photo: Shutterstock

Learn how to fix your clothes

Now is the time to learn how to hem your own pants, darn a sock and fix a broken zipper.

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Family playing a game of monopoly.

Play a classic game

Tired of your kids playing Amoung Us all day? Now’s the perfect time to fall back into the nostalgic games of your childhood. There are plenty of good old-fashioned board games stored away in your basement, awaiting your return.

Here are the best two-player board games to while away the lockdown.

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Humidifier in bedroom
Photo: Shutterstock

Fortify your home

Follow our home safety checklist to make your house the safest, healthiest and comfiest it can be. These 30 hacks will help you optimize your sleep, improve your house’s air quality, and keep it germ-free. Start in one room and make your way through.

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DIY barber tips - how to cut your own hair
Photo: Shutterstock

Cut your hair without making your stylist sad

A nice trim can help make you feel fresh. Go ahead and spruce-up your ’do yourself, but follow these easy tips to make sure you don’t ruin all your stylist’s hard work—or spend the rest of the lockdown wearing a hat.

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Assorted bandanas on wooden table
Photo: Shutterstock

Make an easy no-sew face mask

Face masks are mandatory in most spaces, including the grocery store, the pharmacy, public transit or any other time you’re not able to maintain the recommended social distancing of at least two metres. If you don’t know how to sew, try our simple tutorial for a no-sew DIY face mask that can be made from common household materials.

Check out this genius Canadian invention—a face mask specifically designed for guys with beards!

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Homemade face mask - Egg
Photo: Shutterstock

Make your own face mask—the other kind

Recreate the Zen-like experience of a proper spa pamper with an at-home face mask. Your newly glowing skin will thank-you. Try one of these easy homemade facial mask recipes that actually work!

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Chocolate brownies
Photo: Taste of Home

Make a simple cake

Make you and your quarantine buddies a delicious treat—plus, get a feel-good boost from baking a cake from scratch. If you haven’t been grocery shopping lately, try one of these easy cake recipes that you can make when you cupboards are bare.

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Two puppies being held in hands.

Adopt a pet

With travelling on pause and most of us working from home, adopting a furry new friend doesn’t seem so impossible anymore. In fact, 18 per cent of Canadian pet owners welcomed a new pet into their homes since the pandemic kicked off last March. Companionship aside, having someone to take care of can give you a sense of purpose, and introduce a welcome routine into an uncertain time. Plus, getting a feisty new fur baby means you’ll always have something to talk about during your next Zoom call with friends and family.

Find out the most popular dog breeds across Canada.

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Two men putting tv on wall.

Upgrade your home tech

If you’re going to be stuck at home watching TV every weekend, why not invest the cash you’d normally spend on dinner and a movie on a bigger screen? The latest home theatre technology brings cinema-quality picture and sound to the comfort of your home. Check out our buying guide to the latest home tech on the Canadian market.

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Man with telescope stargazing outside.

Take up stargazing

There’s no better time to indulge in a bit of amateur astronomy. Whether you’re using binoculars, a telescope, or simply your naked eye, stargazing transports you from your own backyard into a different world. As entertainment goes, it provides a welcome break from looking at a screen—crucial in order for our bodies to recharge.

Don’t miss our countdown of the best stargazing spots across Canada.

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two suitcases at an airport terminal.

Plan a future trip

Instead of getting depressed about all the places you can’t visit right now, draft up an itinerary for that dream vacation you’ve always wanted to take. What stops will you add to that cross-Canada road trip in 2022? How would you spend a week in London when it’s safe to travel again? You might even consider going ahead and booking your flights—the current state of the airline industry could spell significant savings with relatively low risk, as bookings are more flexible than they’ve ever been.

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man taking sunset picture with smartphone.

Take your photography to the next level

Got the urge to explore your artistic side? Photography is an easy (and affordable) way to let your creative juices flow. Armed with nothing more than your phone camera, challenge yourself to creatively capture the world around you. For instruction, check out the online tutorials at Skillshare, which offers thousands of classes on photography, fine art, animation and more. They offer a free trial for two months, which gives you plenty of time to enhance your photo skills, and add lingo like rule of thirds, shutter speed and aperture to your vocabulary. Push yourself even further by entering our monthly Theme Pic Challenge!

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women cooking vegetables at home.

Beef up your culinary skills

Finding yourself endlessly scrolling through mouthwatering meals on social media? Become a fabulously talented chef yourself by tapping online video tutorials that show you how to bring those delectable dishes to your own table. Whether you’ve always wanted to make your own pasta from scratch or master the art of puff pastry, this is the perfect time to hone your culinary skills.

Pressed for time? You can whip up these quick dinner recipes in 30 minutes or less.

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women watching film on laptop while eating popcorn.

Watch a feel-good movie

Remember when you could dine out with friends, take a weekend trip to New York or smile freely at stranger in a mask-free world? It’s easy to forget the small things we took for granted in our everyday lives pre-pandemic. These feel-good movies on Netflix are a great reminder of life’s little pleasures, and a welcome escape from our current situation.

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man sleeping at night.

Learn how to decipher your dreams

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many have reported having funkier dreams than usual—think, losing your voice, falling (without ever landing) or being chased by an old neighbour. According to Freud, those dreams have meaning: they’re a collection of images taken from our daily consciousness that can also symbolize our stresses. Use this beginner’s guide to dream interpretation to help you make sense of those wild dreams and uncover what your subconscious is trying to tell you.

Suffering from nightmares? Here some strategies to help you get your dreams under control.

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women saves money in piggy bank.

Earn rebates online

Online shopping is an entertaining way to pass the time during the lockdown, but it can also be expensive. The next time you’re tempted to browse for bargains (and part with more of your hard-earned cash), launch the Caddle app instead. Instead of costing you, it’ll earn you rebates and coupons simply by filling out customer surveys. Check out more strategies to help you save money this year.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest