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27 Things You Should Do for Yourself During Self-Quarantine

Instead of focusing on the (very long) list of what you can't do, here are some things you'll love doing.

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Unexpected downtime

You hear the word “quarantine” and automatically hear the long list of things we’re not allowed to do these days. (Oh restaurants, how we miss you!) But perhaps you should think of all the opportunities this slower lifestyle offers. Instead of sitting around worrying about coronavirus or feeling lonely, use your downtime to learn new skills, pamper yourself, and reconnect with what makes you happy. Just remember: It’s called downtime for a reason. So, don’t see this list as pressure or guilt to be productive every single moment but simply some ideas of things to do to get you through this tough time with your sanity intact. Need extra help? This is what a therapist is doing to stay sane during the quarantine.

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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 with Family Search. 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. Download the app on your phone or visit its site to get all your burning genealogy questions answered for free. Find out how the coronavirus is different from other pandemics in history.

 

Close Up Of Peaceful Teenage Boy Meditating Sitting In Chair At HomeDaisy-Daisy/Getty Images

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. Use code FINDPEACE2020 at checkout. One writer tried meditation for the first time and now there’s no going back.

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Set up a home movie theater

Movie theaters around the country 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! One projector to try? The Kodak LUMA 350 allows you to stream movies and shows right from the projector and displays up to 200 inches (16 feet). Find out 16 funny family movies the whole family would enjoy.

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Write in a journal

Sitting at home binge watching Tiger King 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. You can’t go wrong with a classic Moleskine notebook or get a laugh with this cheeky journal by Monica Sweeney! You could also consider making it a gratitude journal.

 

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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 beginner kit. This kit from Lion Brand Yarn comes with everything you need to knit a “bad hair day beanie.” And let’s be honest, a lot of us are having bad hair days right now!

 

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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, like this herb garden kit from Gardenuity. Bonus: You can use your fresh herbs in your amazing healthy dishes you’re learning to cook.

 

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Learn a new language

Want to know how to say, “quarantine 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 Chinese or you can branch out with Navajo, Esperanto, and Klingon or High Valyrian (we’re not kidding). Kick it off by learning these Spanish phrases everyone should know.

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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. You can practice with this “Cat-eye for dummies makeup tutorial” by Emily DiDonato or simplify the process with a cat-eye “makeup stamp” by Kaja.

 

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Take the best bath ever

Bath lovers rejoice: Self-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 favorite beverage, and some yummy-smelling bath products, like this Freida & Joe Lavender Spa Bath set. Find out 31 things you need for the most relaxing spa day ever.

 

Woman preparing healthy food in the kitchenPoike/Getty Images

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. You can make one of our immune-boosting smoothie recipes or start with one of these tasty Sambazon Açaí Original Blend Superfruit Frozen Smoothie Packs.

 

Do the little things that make each of you smilebernardbodo/Getty Images

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. YouVisit.com offers free, guided, high-definition tours of hundreds of places, including 360-degree, panoramic views. Put it on your big-screen TV and you might almost forget you’re stuck inside. Consider one of these virtual day trips you can now take online.

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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. You don’t have to stick with rainbows; this Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit in indigo hues gives beautiful and sophisticated results.

 

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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. Your body will thank you for doing yoga!

Artist enjoying painting with her british shorthair catZbynek Pospisil/Getty Images

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 weeks) in a whole new way. Start with this painting kit from Artiscapes. It comes with an artboard, seven watercolor paints, three brushes, and four wands.

 

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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. You can find one locally or try Talkspace, an online mental health platform that connects people with trained therapists. Right now they are offering frontline medical workers a free month of online therapy. Regular folks can get $100 off with code 1004U.

Overhead Shot Looking Down On Woman At Home Lying On Sofa Painting Toe Nailsmonkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

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. There’s just something so weirdly satisfying about using the feet cheese-grater (okay, it’s actually called a foot file) to literally shave a pile of dead skin off your feet!

Just getting out of the showerPeopleImages/Getty Images

Do a hair mask (don’t cut bangs)

With salons being closed, people are being forced to learn to do their own manicures, hair trims, and even dye jobs. You might want to avoid the urge to cut new bangs but one thing you can do risk-free is a hair mask. Try one of our DIY hair mask recipes with ingredients you have at home or indulge in this highly-rated classic Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak by Kiehls. These are 17 more of our favorite hair masks for every hair type.

 

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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. These are 45 of the best free online college courses you can take.

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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!

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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 percent germ-free making them the perfect activity for those staying in to avoid illness. Many libraries offer popular e-books for free through apps like Axis360 (on Apple and Android) and Libby, all you have to do is sign in with your library card.

Grandmother's hands close-up prepare homemade dough.Oksana Restenko/Getty Images

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 teach this skill to your child while you’re at it. Use your great-grandma’s family recipe or try our two-ingredient Best Bread In The World.

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Play some brain games

Keep your mind active and agile can be a challenge when you’re stuck in a quarantine that feels like Groundhog Day. 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 14 brain games will help you get smarter during the quarantine.

Young Asian man listening to music and relaxing in his officeAnchiy/Getty Images

Find a new favorite 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? Kids and parents rave about the Myths and Legends podcast.

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Organize your home office

With so many people now suddenly 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! Start by setting apart a dedicated space to work (even if that’s on your couch) and then get organized with these home office essentials.

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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. Using a squeegee and a microfiber cloth will have them (and you) sparkling in no time.

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Go for a walk or run

In most places, unless you are under a strict stay-indoors mandate, you are still allowed to go outside for exercise while still following self-quarantining rules. (Not in groups and while staying at least six feet away from others, of course.) This is something you should take advantage of daily as exercise and sunshine are two of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. Not sure how to start? Download the Couch to 5K app for free and you may end up coming out of quarantine fitter than when you started! Nature is one of the 12 wonderful things that will never be canceled.

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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. Read on for more ideas on what to do when your whole life gets canceled.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.