You’re stuck at home, and you’re bored. I get it because I’m in the same boat right here with you. But if we’re going to survive the next few months and stay healthy, we have to keep active.
Active bodies AND minds!
Fortunately, we’re super lucky to live in the 21st century where we have unlimited resources at our fingertips! All you need is a phone or a laptop and an internet connection and you should have enough entertainment to last you a thousand years.
But just in case you need a little bit of direction, here are 16 things we’re doing right now to keep ourselves sane and, dare I say it, use this as an opportunity for personal growth:
Fitness Programmes and workout plans
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a fancy gym to get in shape, maintain your fitness or even shed a few pounds. All you need is a clear space and a bit of motivation.
Doing some home exercise is a great way to increase endorphins (the chemical that makes us happy), and keep away those dreaded blues.
There are dozens of exercise apps, fitness programs and workout videos online. Over the years I’ve tried a number of different options, so I thought I’d share some of them with you!
Note: None of these are referral links or ads and I’m not getting anything for promoting them. They’re genuinely just a few options I’ve tried, tested and feel like I can recommend.
Complete Fitness Plans
For complete fitness plans and step by step programmes that include diet plans and multiple progressive videos, I’ve had personal experience using P90X and Insanity by Shaun T. These are quite expensive programmes, but they’re comprehensive and get the job done.
You can purchase a subscription to Beachbody on demand, and get access to dozens of programs like this for a subscription fee. I believe the cheapest option is $49USD for 3 months.
I’ve used the P90X workout for years (before it was a subscription service) and have yet to find a better ab workout than Ab Ripper X.
Alternatively, there are several apps that offer free/paid subscriptions and offer several workout plans and exercises. Over the years I’ve used all of the following:
- Fitbit (premium is currently free for 90 days),
- Class Pass -free online videos and workouts
- MyFitnessPal – great for tracking diet and exercise (freemium model)
- Peleton – is currently offering a 90 day free trial during the Covid-19 period
- Men’s Health app – loads of great home workouts to try (paid subscription)
- BodyFit – Bodybuilder.com’s app for those of you that want to beef up a little, (paid subscription but 7 day free trial)
All of these offer premium packages for a small monthly fee, but between all of these apps, there’s probably enough free content to get you through the next decade!
This is another great option for staying in shape. If you don’t really know what you want to do, there are millions of amazing videos online that are absolutely free. Try one out and if you don’t like it, move on to something different!
Recently Louise has been loving the short and free workouts by Pamela Reif.
Gameify your workouts
One great way to stay in shape is to gameify your workouts. What do I mean by that? I mean make it a game!
I always find that my biggest improvements come when I’m actually either competing with someone or when I’ve made a public declaration of my fitness goals. Find someone in similar shape to yourself and challenge them to a 30 day fitness challenge! There are already push up challenges all over Instagram, and it’s a fantastic way to keep motivated.
I’ve found that working out with Louise at home is a great bonding exercise and our competitiveness is motivating us to work really hard together!
Learn to cook
Cooking is a great stress reliever, and let’s be honest, several months of eating tinned food or instant noodles is going to get pretty old, pretty quickly.
Nothing feels better than learning to cook something fancy or nailing a recipe, so dust off those oven gloves and get in the kitchen!
Meal Delivery Services
One of the many wonders of modern technology is that there are now meal delivery companies out there that set you up with all the ingredients to make a perfect meal yourself!
We actually used these for a while while we were trying to learn a few cooking skills, and the easy step-by-step guides and recipes definitely taught us a thing or two!
Sure, they’re a little expensive, but we found it really useful to sign up for a few months in the beginning.
So far we’ve used the following:
- HelloFresh (Here’s a link for $40 off your first order!)
- Chef’s Plate (Here’s a link for 4 free meals!)
Personally, I liked the recipes from HelloFresh more than Chef’s Plate, but both are pretty good. Also, they both offer first time subscribers the first few meals free, which is a great way to save some money during this rough patch.
For two people that normally eat out ALL THE TIME (I know it’s terrible), meal subscriptions actually ended up saving us money.
Cooking blogs and videos
It goes without saying that platforms like Youtube and Pinterest and Facebook all have amazing content for those looking to improve their cooking.
For me, Tasty is always an amazing place to start my search, and if I already kind of know what I’m after I’ll start looking on Pinterest.
Foodie blogs and cooking websites are also an amazing way to find new recipes. I’ve always really enjoyed trying the recipes on BBCgoodfood.com and checking out the recipes by Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. Most tv chefs have plenty of recipes available online!
Learn a new language
In high school I was fortunate enough to learn both French and German. School exchanges and field trips to France and Germany were actually what initially inspired me to travel.
Languages really go hand in hand with travel and can truly enhance any travel experience. Obviously travel is out of the question right now, but there’s nothing stopping you from learning a new language in anticipation!
There a number of amazing ways to learn new languages now that were never available to me growing up, and honestly, they can turbocharge your learning trajectory. Here are a few options at your disposal:
(Again, none of these are ads, just genuine recommendations)
Computer based learning
One of the most amazing but most expensive programs available is (in my experience), Rosetta Stone.
Having used Rosetta Stone to learn a little Mandarin, I can personally vouch for their excellent system. They use a system of spaced learning and repetition that really drills the vocabulary into you. It’s probably been about 7 or 8 years since I first tried Rosetta Stone, and I still remember most of the Mandarin vocab I picked up.
The system also uses voice recognition, which is extremely helpful in tonal languages, where your tone really affects the meaning of the words you’re saying. I found it to be highly, highly effective. You can try a 7 day trial for absolutely free at the link above!
Rosetta Stone is the extremely high end programme that costs a lot of money. However, there are much cheaper options available in the form of language apps.
Duolingo is a popular option for language learning, and is another app that uses gameification to encourage you.
Talk to a real person online
There’s little debate when it comes to the best method of learning a new language. The best way is generally accepted to be immersion and talking with real life people.
ITalki is a language exchange website where people looking to learn different languages can speak with real teachers online for relatively low rates. It’s an amazing opportunity to chat with someone on the other side of the world and learn a new skill!
If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to have a conversation with a real life human being!
Learn to code
This is something I’ve been working on for a long time, and it sort of comes hand in hand with blogging. Learning to code is the perfect quarantine activity, because all you need is a laptop and a good internet connection. Actually, you don’t even need a decent internet connection (except for accessing the online resources).
For anyone with future aspirations of working remotely or blogging (or maybe you just want to make your own website), then coding is THE skill you need to learn.
Our blog runs on WordPress, which strictly speaking doesn’t require any coding knowledge, however I do actually regularly use it in conjunction with WordPress to customize our site. It’s a highly valuable skill and right now you probably have all the time in the world to finally give it a try.
I would also say that it’s really not as difficult as it may seem when you’re first starting out. Much like learning a language, it’s all pretty overwhelming in the beginning, but if you start with the basics it quickly becomes easier.
Which programming language should you learn?
Udemy has a huge library of cheap courses that can teach you virtually everything you could ever want to learn. I’m currently teaching myself the Swift programming language (the language you use to make IOS apps on Iphones).
Most of the courses are “heavily discounted” (like $200 down to $20), and give you tens of hours of coaching for virtually nothing.
Codecademy is a freemium online coding school with dozens of helpful coding lessons that guide you through a very well laid out progression of skills. I’ve used this in the past, and have found even the free materials to be quite useful. For $20 per month, you can also access the pro area and some of the more interesting content.
FreeCodeCamp.org is easily one of the best resources available online. There are hundreds of incredible things to learn on this site and best of all? They’re all free! If you’re actually going to immerse yourself in coding, I’d highly recommend signing up to the Freecodecamp email blast, because it always sends out (sometimes literally) hundreds of amazing free resources that you can utilize.
Some courses even allow you to get actual university credit, or you can enrol directly with the university through Coursera. Actual online degrees cost signficantly more, of course.
These are without doubt the highest quality online courses you can find because most of them are by actual *Insert Ivy League* professors.
The downside? This is another expensive paid subscription service, but you can join for a week for nothing. Let me tell you, you can consume a lot of online courses in 7 days whem you have nothing else to do!
Start a blog
I’m not sugarcoating this when I say that blogging has been the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s given me a voice, has allowed me to be creative, has become an amazing income stream and has allowed me to travel and experience things that money literally can’t buy.
Seriously, starting a blog could change your life. It’s certainly changed ours.
But if you’re reading this with absolutely zero background in computers and websites etc., you might be thinking that actually setting up a blog is an impossible task that would take forever to figure out.
It’s actually not that difficult to set up a blog at all. It’s just a lot of little steps, and if you choose to use WordPress, it doesn’t require any coding at all. All it takes is patience and desire!
Take our online course
I realised a long time ago that the biggest barrier to entry was the perception that blogging would be challenging to actually begin. The truth is, it’s really not. So, I decided to show people just how easy it is and create a FREE online course for anyone looking to start one.
If you’re serious about blogging, or maybe you’re just super bored, feel free to check it out! I’ve created a simple, step-by-step course that even a monkey could follow.
My free course takes you from the absolute beginning, all the way to having a fully set up and functional blog that’s ready for your first blog post!
Check out my FREE WORDPRESS 101 COURSE here
Plan your next vacation
Maybe it’s time to let your imagination out of the house, even if you can’t leave anymore! Keeping positive and looking forward to the future is a great way to keep your spirits up.
Aside from that, the travel industry is going to need all of our support when things finally start to recover, and I for one will be ready to pull the trigger on a vacation as soon as I get the green light.
If you’re thinking you might ever want to visit Banff, make sure you check out our complete guide!
One of my favourite kinds of vacation is a road trip, and to plan those I tend to use two tools: Google maps and roadtrippers.com
Road trippers is an amazing way to plot a route based on the various sights you want to see. For example, if I want to drive between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon (an amazing road trip by the way), I can add places like Umpqua Hot Springs and Napa Valley to the route, and then expand my search radius to see if other interesting sights appear on the new route.
We’ve found so many hidden gems this way!
You can also use it to add a list of all the places you plan to stop along the route, and it will automatically create the shortest route for you. It also tells you how much you’ll spend on gas and how much driving it is. That way, if you’re on a time crunch, you can hide various stopping points to see if they add a huge amount of extra time to your trip.
Road trippers allows 7 stops on your route before you have to pay for the premium version. It used to be free but now they’ve started monetising through a subscription plan.
Google ‘My Maps’
Google MyMaps is a free version of Road trippers (without the location descriptions), and is another great way to plot routes you plan to take in the future. If you have a Gmail or Gsuite account, you can make use of the my maps function, which allows you to build and save your own maps and routes for later use. Ever wondered how blogs get those pretty embedded maps? It’s Google My Maps.
Adopt or foster a pet
If you’re stuck at home with nothing to do, there’s nothing like a furry companion to keep you company. Our cat is an endless source of entertainment, and we’re all loving the extra time we’re getting to spend together.
It’s now common knowledge that cats and dogs are not able to transmit COVID-19, so giving a furry friend some love carries no risk. It’s also a great excuse if you’re in need of some fresh air (remember to keep your distance though!)!
Anyway, all of that to say that there are still hundreds of cats and dogs that need a home or need looking after right now, so if there’s a space in your home to look after one, I recommend giving your local rescue shelter a call and seeing if there’s anything you can do to help.
Do one job per day that you’ve been putting off
With so much spare time on our hands, we can finally get around to those chores we’ve been putting off for forever! I’ve seen several people taking on the challenge of 30 jobs in 30 days, and I thought it was inspirational enough to add to this list.
If you’re really looking for inspiration, check out Tidying Up by Marie Kondo on Netflix. I don’t think I ever tidied up as much as I did the first time I watched this show!
Even if you do the smallest job each day, it’ll all add up over time. By next month your place will be looking better than ever!
Call the people you care about
There’s a funny meme going around that says, “Introverts, we know you’re ok right now, but give us extroverts a call because we are NOT ok!”
It’s kind of light hearted, but there’s a serious message behind it. Some people really are struggling with isolation, so a thoughtful call might just make their day.
Most of us are at home twiddling our thumbs anyway, so it’s a great time to catch up with family, friends and relatives that you haven’t spoken to in a long time!
Better yet, have a games night with them!
Virtual board games and online gaming
Last night we connected with our family via google hangouts and all logged into Jackbox.tv . It’s basically an online gaming platform that multiple people can connect to at once. Think trivia night or Pictionary, but online. It was actually so much fun, and I’d really recommend giving it a try!
Alternatively, for the gamers amongst you, most games consoles these days have internet connections that allow you to connect with gamers around the world.
Round up some of your friends and have an internet party while you obliterate them on Call of Duty or trounce them in Super Mario Party. There are virtually endless options.
Local businesses are DYING right now. Nobody is out spending money and there’s a real risk that many of our favourite restaurants won’t be there at the end of all this. If we don’t support them now, there might not be anything left to support later.
Most restaurants have recognised that takeout is the only way to safely operate during these times, so give the restaurant a call and see if it’s something they can offer you. Many will even put the food outside for you so you can avoid physical contact. Uber Eats actually has an option where you can ask for your food to be left on your doorstep.
If you use Uber Eats, enter eats-robint3864ue for $10 off a $15 order!
Buy Gift Cards from Restaurants you love
Go one step further and support your local business by buying a gift card from them to use later. They could really use our support right now so if there’s anything you can do for them, I’m sure they’ll be endlessly grateful!
Listen to podcasts and audio books
All of this downtime is a great opportunity to learn something new or entertain yourself through different mediums.
(Again, no affiliates or ads here, just recommendations)
Podcasts are a fantastic way to make yourself laugh, learn something new or simply get lost in a good story.
If you’re looking for comedy, I’m obsessed with “My Dad wrote a Porno”. It’s pure genius. Basically, it’s a podcast by a guy whose dad wrote a porno. The world’s worst porno about a pots and pans saleswoman.
Each week he gets together with his 2 best friends and tears it apart. It’s one of the most downloaded podcasts of all time at this point and will genuinely make you chuckle.
If you like investigative journalism, then I can highly recommend “Finding Cleo” (a sobering series about the Canadian Residential School system and the disappearance of hundreds of Native children). If you want to learn a little about wildlife and issues surrounding some of our natural parks, I can recommend the story of “Bear 148” in Banff.
I normally do a lot of driving and spend a lot of time jogging on the treadmill. Last year I really got into audiobooks to pass the time. They can be an amazing way to educate yourself or get lost in a story that you otherwise might never have the time to dive into.
I use Audible, because the interface is really easy and they have an amazing range of audiobooks to explore, no matter the genre. I also like that you can speed the books up and plough through books at an astonishing rate!
Personal Development Books
I’m a huge fan of personal development books, and can recommend several awesome audiobooks that I’ve listened to lately:
12 Rules for life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson – a really fascinating deep dive that explores some excellent life advice and ways to overcome various challenges that life throws at you. Jordan Peterson is exceptionally intelligent and eloquent and his writing is nothing if not entertaining.
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins (an amazing biography of mental fortitude by one of the world’s toughest ultramarathon runners – I can actually really recommend the audiobook over the actual book because it includes extra anecdotes and explanations.
Lost at Sea by John Ronson – A collection of bizarre and interesting stories from a fantastic journalist.
The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene – an interesting exploration of the human condition and how to navigate various challenging human traits (like psychopaths and sociopaths).
American Predator: the hunt for the most meticulous serial killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan – An in-depth book about the murders of Israel Keyes, a somewhat overlooked serial killer in the US (more true crime!)
Read a book
Finally get around to reading that novel you’ve been meaning to sit down with all these years, or focus on self improvement by chomping through a few personal development books!
Get a Kindle or a Kobo
I got an Amazon Kindle for Christmas and have immediately fallen in love with it. I also hear the Kobo is also excellent. What I love about the Kindle is that books are far cheaper than paperback books, and if you have an amazon prime membership you get access to a number of free books via Prime Reading.
If you’re a voracious reader, you can also get Kindle Unlimited, which means you can read as many books as you like each month for a fixed fee. This is probably the best option for many of you right now!
Here’s why I also love e-readers:
- You don’t have to leave your house to buy a new book
- I like to read in a certain position. When I’m reading a book in bed I have to constantly toss and turn. I don’t have to do that with a kindle.
- You can highlight and make notes in the ebooks, which are all stored online in a giant document that you can access at any time. This is great if you’re a writer that needs to constantly re-access old quotes.
- They have liquid crystal displays that don’t shoot out blue light. That means they’re easy to read at night without being blasted by blue light which actually causes your body to stay awake.
- The batteries last forever on one charge.
- you get recommendations for books you’d never think about reading. It makes picking out your next book super easy.
Books I’ve read recently that I can recommend
Here are some books I’ve read so far this year that I really recommend:
- Dalai Lama Biography – My spiritual Journey (a biography) – I found this to be a good read in terms of the overall message it conveys about love and spirituality. It’s also an excellent insight into the history and issues between China and Tibet. With that being said, I found it to be a little repetitive at times and had to persevere to get to the end of the book. (currently available for free on Prime Reading)
- Atomic Habits by James Clear – This is an amazing book about creating lasting habits and working on developing processes to improve your effectiveness as a person. Huge insights and very readable. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to self improve.
- Get Sh*t Done by Jeffrey Gittomer – another interesting book on developing good habits and overcoming procrastination. If you had to pick one though, I’d go for Atomic Habits.
- Utlralearning by Scott Young – This is a really interesting read about how you can supercharge your learning on any topic through various methods. Mostly it comes down to spending a great deal of time preparing and creating a winning strategy designed to help you achieve your goals. Scott Young became famous for completing a 4 yr MIT computer sciences course in 1 year, and he also learnt Korean, Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese to conversational level in one year. An inspirational author with many interesting examples of superhuman achievements.
- Humans: A Brief History of How we F*cked it all up by Tom Phillips – I love history and interesting anecdotes. This is a book full of lessons throughout history gained from people generally messing things up through stupidity, and how those lessons might be applied today and in the future. Some really interesting insights like how lead in gasoline was totally unnecessary and may have contributed to a crime wave in the US. A very witty read that had me chuckling at times.
Watch a documentary
Nothing will keep those grey cells firing more than a good old fashioned documentary. There are hundreds of documentaries out there right now that can satisfy any kind of curiosity you could imagine. We tend to watch a lot of nature, adventure and travel documentaries, but I regularly dip into all kinds of genres. Here are a few that I’ve seen and can recommend:
Human Planet; Blue Planet; Planet Earth; Wild China; Blackfish; Chasing Ice; Touching The Void; The Dawn Wall; Free Solo; Man on Wire; Jiro Dreams of Sushi; the Endless Summer; Under the Arctic Sky; Dark Tourist; Tiger King; Pandemic; Zeitgeist; King of Kong; Behind the Curve
Of course, aside from documentaries there are endless amazing movies out there to watch, and I feel like there’s hardly any point in me going through every movie I’ve ever seen (unless you really want me to). You’ll literally never run out of content if you’re signed up to Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus.
With most of us virtually boiling over with frustration, keeping our minds calm is more important now than ever. Meditation is a great way to practice mindfulness, stay calm and keep your mind strong over the coming weeks and months. Here are a few resources you might find helpful:
Much like the struggling restaurant industry, retailers are also dying on the vine. Even if you’re locked away at home, you can still get online for some much needed retail therapy! (No guarantees that it’ll arrive for months, but hey, worth a shot!)
I hope these tips and ideas help you to stay positive and occupied during the coming months. It’s a challenging time that’s going to require all of our energy to survive. Fortunately we live in a time of endless opportunity that allows us to access a plethora of online resources right from our couches.
Stay positive, stay strong, and I’d love to hear from you if you have more suggestions!