Listen up, Boomers: study after study has shown that people aged 60 and older are more likely than younger people to have complications from catching COVID-19. With more than 150,000 diagnosed cases around the world, it’s important that everyone do what they can to help stop the spread – which means even healthy people across all age groups should limit social interaction to reduce the risk of becoming a carrier and passing the virus to someone else.
But the fact that you probably should stay home doesn’t make dealing with boredom any easier, especially for adults used to being active and social. But don’t worry – extra time at home can be a blessing in disguise if you have something to occupy your time. So, if you’re 55+, check out this list of 55 activities you can finally dive into now while your travel plans are on hold. And if you’re worried about older parents or family members who aren’t taking it easy, consider sending them this list to help them get used to a quieter few days at home. Of course, none of these activities require that you be a certain age to do them, so feel free to jump on in whether you’re 19 or 92.
Virtually volunteer at a museum: You can still be helpful while staying at home. If you have good typing skills, consider volunteering with the Smithsonian Institute, which is always in need of volunteers to help transcribe important documents.
Learn an instrument: Do you have an instrument sitting around the house you haven’t played in years? Dust it off, and watch free YouTube videos to learn the basics of everything from harmonica to bongo drums.
Play a video game: If your kids left an old gaming system at home, plug it in. Most gaming systems from the last ten years connect to wifi, which means you can download games from your home. Not sure how to do it? Here are instructions for Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox (or just call your kids.)
Write letters to strangers: With visitation limited at senior living communities, it may be nice for residents to hear from strangers. Love for the Elderly and Write On are great organizations that connect friendly letter writers (you!) with people who would love to receive them.
Learn a language: Learn the basics of a new language, perhaps for that vacation you’re now postponing to the fall. Duolingo has a great free app for computers or tablets, and Tandem lets you chat with native speakers if you already know the basics.
Try a new recipe: Dig deep into the pantry and see what random ingredients you forgot about. FridgeToTable will help you come up with a recipe using whatever you find, and sites like Epicurious have step-by-step guides and videos to help you whip up even the most complicated of soufflés.
Plan a trip: Eventually, there will come a time when COVID-19 fears die down and travel returns to (mostly) normal. So plan a dream trip, even if you’ll never take it. Get inspiration from luxury travel sites like National Geographic Expeditions or Abercrombie & Kent.
Write letters to family members: If you’re over 55, you probably remember a time when writing letters wad far more common. And believe it or not, young people like getting mail too; it’s one of the reasons monthly subscription boxes have flourished. So dig out some paper or old postcards (or make your own!) and send a letter that just might make someone’s day (especially if your recipient is also bored at home!) It’s especially funny if you can find old postcards from places you’ve clearly never been.
Do a puzzle: Have an old jigsaw puzzle lying around the house? Dump it out. Not only are jigsaw puzzles surprisingly addictive, but studies have shown that jigsaw puzzles can help maintain sharp cognitive functionality.
Learn a magic trick: You might as well pick up a new party trick for when it’s safe to socialize again. You don’t need s fancy magic kit; just check out a website on how to do sleight-of-hand with common household objects.
Clean out the closet: Go through the closets and find clothes you no longer wear. You can either donate them, or if they’re in good conditions, put them up for sale on sites like Poshmark, which allow users to safely sell clothing secondhand. It helps keep clothing out of landfills and helps you make a few extra dollars.
Teach your dog a trick: Fido may be just fine sitting around on the couch for days a time, but if you’re not, pull out a bag of dog treats and teach him a new trick. The Spruce Pets offers plenty of articles on easy tricks your dog can learn, or you can YouTube tutorials instead.
Plan a home renovation: Sick of staring at white walls? Then fix ‘em. Get home decor and renovation ideas from sites like Dwell and Architectural Digest, or build an inspiration board for an upcoming project on Houzz.com.
Learn a new online skill: Online learning isn’t just for college students. Sites like Masterclass let you learn skills ranging from scientific thinking with Neil Degrasse Tyson to interactive conservation classes with Jane Goodall for around $15 a month. You can also find shorter free classes on sites like SkillShare.
FaceTime with family and friends: You don’t have to leave the house to see loved ones – just call them with video chatting. Consider combining this with another activity and showing your family and friends your sleek magic trick or the new skill Fido (finally) picked up.
Make a vase: Throw down some newspaper, find an old shirt for a smock, and try a new craft – throwing ceramics can be fun and stress-relieving. You can order beginner kits from various online retailers, and finished products can sit for a week or two before they need fired, so it’s fine if you don’t have access to a kiln right away.
Write a book: Don’t just read a book – write one. Whether you’ve got an idea for a sci-fi novel, a how-to guide, or just a book of poetry, now’s the time to start typing. Sites like The Write Life can help guide you as you get started.
Draw: If you’re creatively inclined, start sketching. Your medium can be anything from pencil to chalk to paint, and you don’t need any special paper or guidance to get going. However, if you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas, drawing activity books can be a fun way to get your creative juices flowing (and iPad apps are available, too)
Sort through old photos: Many people take photos on vacation, upload them to their computer, and then never do anything with them. So go through your old photos and sort them to make them sharable with others. You can also print photos you like directly through sites like Google Photos and Shutterfly.
Plan a road trip: Don’t want to fly for a while? No problem. Plan a road trip with Roadtrippers.com, which helps you find quirky roadside destinations sorted by categories like “abandoned places,” “swimming holes,” “vegetarian restaurants,” and dozens more.
Watch makeup and hair tutorials: Become a beauty icon with the help of free YouTube makeup and updo videos. Learn to perfect a smokey eye, how to get curly hair with a straightener, or how to properly contour so you don’t look like a reality TV star.
Strike A Pose: Never tried yoga? Now’s the time. Download a free trial of an app like Glo or Yoga AnyTime and you’ll get two weeks of unlimited classes. Many of the apps have activities beyond yoga, like stretching and breath-work.
Learn to stock trade: Master the market when you’re stuck inside – it’s what Warren Buffet would do. Start an account with TD Ameritrade or Robin Hood and learn the ins and outs of investing (and consider making a few buys while the markets are down.)
Take a virtual tour: Just because you can’t physically be somewhere doesn’t mean you can’t explore what it has to offer. Take a virtual tour of the Louvre, the Vatican Museum, the Smithsonian, and many more.
Start a Pinterest page: Join Pinterest.com and create collections of images and photos tailored to your interests. Start a board for lifehacks, create a collection of recipes to try once stores are re-stocked, or plan the garden you’ll get planted later this year. Joining is free and the website is quite user-friendly.
Check out your e-library: Have a library card? Then you can probably download books for an e-reader or kindle for free. Most neighborhood libraries have download programs, so just check your local website or give the library a call to learn how to take advantage of that benefit.
Choose your candidate: Instead of just reading COVID-19 related news, take time to learn about your local politicians running for office and where they stand on issues that matter to you. Try to read news from multiple sources as well as the candidates themselves to make sure you’re not just hearing from sources biased to the left or right.
Dive down a rabbit hole: If there’s anything you’ve always wanted to learn, now’s a good time. Is free will real? Is cryogenic freezing really so crazy? How might time travel work? Now’s a good time to challenge your brain with some high-level topics.
Learn to Dance: Learning to dance in public might be a bit embarrassing for people with two left feet, but there’s no excuse not to learn when you’re alone at home. Take a free online class and learn to ballroom dance, salsa, or even interpretive dance.
Meditate: Both western and eastern medicine agree that meditation has serious benefits for nearly everyone, including stress-relief, which people stuck at home can almost certainly benefit from. Learn to meditate at home with apps like Headspace and Calm, which can help guide even the most anxious of users into a regular practice.
Learn to use your camera: Whether you have a DSLR with interchangeable lenses or a simple point and shoot, your camera probably has a lot of features you aren’t using. Do an online search for guides specific to your camera or take an online tutorial before doing a walk around your house or yard to practice new skills.
Look Up: If you have a telescope, set it up on in your backyard and take a look at the sky once the sun sets. If you don’t have a telescope, download an app like StarChart or NightSky to help you figure out what constellations and planets are above you without the need for additional equipment.
Do your taxes: Tax day is still April 15, so you might as well get a start on your filing. You can do your own taxes from home with sites like TurboTax and H&R Block. Don’t forget – if you make less than $36,000, you’re legally entitled to file your taxes for free.
Improve your handwriting: Once you’ve finished writing letters, learn how to address the envelopes with a flourish. All you need is a thick-tip pin to begin learning the basics of calligraphy, and you can even create your own fonts once you find a style you really like.
Solve a murder: If watching Law & Order reruns have you wanting to try your skills at playing detective, sign up for a problem-solving crime game like Hunt a Killer. The mail-order service sends you boxes in a specific order to help you solve a (fake) crime, complete with clues, witness statements, evidence, and more.
Start a virtual book club: Reach out to some friends who are also trying to stay inside more and start a virtual book club. You can wait until everyone has finished the book, or meet via Google Hangout or FaceTime once everyone has read a few chapters (and yes, you can still drink wine during a virtual meeting!)
Start scrapbooking: If you have an old photo album, photos, scissors, and some mixed media (like ribbons, magazine clippings, and stickers) you have everything you need to get started. You can also order scrapbooking kits online, which usually come with paper and accessories that already match together.
Learn about women who matter: March is Women’s History Month, so take the time to read about women who made a difference. Consider reading up on Emma Gatewood (the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail alone,) or self-taught Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
Do some graphic design: Basic graphic design is easy to learn and can be handy for anything from running a virtual business to designing an annual holiday card. Though you can find tutorials on sites like YouTube, you can also buy affordable multi-lesson classes from sites like Udemy.
Take notes in a favorite book: Do you have a favorite paperback book you love? Reread it and mark it up as you by highlighting passages that speak to you and underlying quotes you like. You might consider marking it up and mailing it to someone else you think would also enjoy the read.
Start eating healthy: Given the fears about COVID-19, there’s no better time to work on staying in shape. In addition to at-home workouts, healthy eating is a huge part of that. Learn about the basics of healthy eating, browse healthy recipes, or consider making some easy substitutions to lead to overall healthier habits.
Tune into a webcam: Whether you love the aquarium, or going on safari, or Las Vegas weddings hosted by Elvis impersonators, you’re in luck: there’s probably a real-time webcam you can tune into. Just search for “webcam + whatever you’d like to see” (hint: most national parks have several wildlife and nature cams.)
Work on your family tree: If your family is tight and in touch frequently, you may already have all the info you need to start making a family tree and tracing your history. If not, join a site like Ancestry.com and start diving into the history of the family you kn0w (and most likely, some you don’t know, too!)
Clean out your car: Pull your car into the garage and give it an at-home detailing service. Brush dog hair off the seats, vacuum crumbs out of the cup-holder, and shake out and clean floor mats with a brush. If you have a clean home, you might as well have a clean car, too.
Cut coupons: Whether you cut coupons out of magazines or collect them virtually, there’s plenty of savings to be had on products you often buy. Sites like coupons.com offer printable deals, though there are plenty of apps to make it easy on you; The Balance has a short list of helpful downloads.
Make gifts: Do you usually give homemade gifts around the holidays? Then you might as well get started on them. Knit scarves, make a birdhouse, or create personalized bath bombs and decorative soaps to give as gifts later in the year.
Become a chess master: It takes decades to become a chess master, but you can at least memorize a few gambits to start winning games with a little strategy in place. Play online, or pick up a chess kit that comes with a board and tutorials for how to always end the game with “checkmate.”
Start a blog: Starting a blog is exceptionally easy (and can be free) thanks to companies like Wix and SquareSpace. So give blogging a go! Share your personal reviews of popular movies, use it like a journal, or create itineraries for bucket list trips to share with friends.
Whittle: Get in touch with your inner cowboy (or cowgirl) and learn to whittle. All you need is a pocketknife and something to carve (small tree branches from the backyard may work.) It’s surprisingly easy to craft everything from wooden sharks to dinosaurs to chess pieces.
Watch something totally new: If you usually love crime drama, start watching a goofy comedy show. And if you normally stick to sitcoms, try streaming a thought providing international show (Netflix’s Dark scores rave reviews from fans and critics.)
Stay fit during commercials: Adopt a schedule of commercial break workouts. During breaks in your favorite shows, do a series of 90-second floor workouts to help keep muscles tight if you’re sitting at home more than usual. (Make sure you’re safe and healthy enough before starting any workout regime)
Plan a wedding or vow renewal: Whether you have a child or friend getting engaged or just had fun planning yours years ago, planning a virtual wedding can be a fun escape from stressful days. Join TheKnot, start a wedding Pinterest page, or browse wedding websites to (re-)plan your big day or perhaps plan an upcoming vow renewal.
Make top 10 lists: For a fun thought experiment, try making top 10 lists of everything you can think of – your top 10 favorite movies, favorite places you’d like to go, favorite memories, or a list of secret skills you’d like to learn. Compare them with your spouse or family for a fun “getting to know you” discussion.
Reconnect with your parter: If you’re stuck at home with a spouse or partner, consider hosting a stay-at-home date night with a glass of wine and a series of personal questions.
Garden: If it’s spring where you live, get out in the yard. Clear out old flowerbeds, mow the lawn, and rebuild pathways and edging throughout the yard. Lawnwork is also a great way to stay fit if you’re taking a break from the gym for a while, but be sure to wash your hands as soon as you come back in the house.
Tips adapted from Forbes.
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