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Coronavirus – how to keep busy, motivated and connected

Books to read

What a strange time we’re living in… I feel like this will be a defining moment in my life, as you probably do to. Normal life as we know it has changed considerably and life feels pretty uncertain right now. But, this will pass and we’ll get through it.

If you’re having to self isolate, are on a lock down or are having to work from home and finding yourself with a fair amount of free time, here’s a few things you can do to keep busy, motivated and connected.

Declutter and Spring clean

Now is the perfect time to declutter and spring clean your home. I cleaned out my kitchen cupboards the other day and was horrified to find several items that had expired in 2018. There was even one item that had expired in 2014! It’s made me more mindful to check my cupboards more regularly and to make sure I don’t keep buying items I already have.

Summer is around the corner so now is the perfect time to go through all your Autumn and Winter clothing and get rid of anything you don’t want anymore or anything that doesn’t fit – and this applies to Summer clothing too! Wondering what to do with your unwanted items? Please consider donating any good quality clothing to a local charity shop. They’ve all had to close due to Coronavirus so will need your donations when they can finally reopen!

And if you’ve got lots of stuff you need to donate – including furniture, household items and working electrical items, then book a free delivery with the British Heart Foundation. They also have a very handy flowchart!

Learn a craft

Always wanted to learn how to sew, knit or crochet? Well now is the perfect time! There are loads of tutorial videos on YouTube. Also, doing something with your hands can help with stress and aid wellbeing.

In an attempt to get off my phone more, I’ve taken up knitting and am vowing to finally finish the scarf I started 5 years ago! Might make a lovely Christmas gift for someone (if I can manage not to drop any stitches!).

Knitting a scarf

Learn a new language

My husband is Italian and I recently looked in to applying for an Italian passport. Only problem is I need to be proficient in speaking Italian! So I guess now is as good a time as any to learn.

I used to listen to Coffee Break Italian years ago on my commute to work so I think it’s time to start listening again! No matter what language you’d like to learn, there are bound to be free resources and also paid courses available online.

It’s also an opportunity to support a language teacher who can’t deliver face to face classes anymore as it’s perfectly possible to conduct lessons via Skype, Zoom, Facetime etc.

Dust off those recipe books

If you’re anything like me, you probably have 234 recipe books but have only ever cooked four things from two of them. Well now is the time to give them the love they deserve and learn some new cooking techniques in the process!

Yes, panic buying may be happening now but most small independent shops have lots of stock in. You can also order online from smaller shops so you should be able to still get the ingredients you need. Now is the perfect time to show your love for small businesses and help them stay in business.

My cooking books

Learn a new skill or brush up

Sadly there are many people who have lost their jobs due to businesses closing – or are in danger of losing them. Now is a really good time to learn a new skill or brush up on your existing skills.

Google Digital Garage has free online courses to help you learn or improve your digital skills – from learning how to code to learning the fundementals of digital marketing. Many of the courses offer a certification too.

Another great online learning platform is Futurelearn. They offer a huge range of courses – from business management to literature, nature and environment, teaching, politics and science and loads more. All of their courses have been created by leading universities, business schools and specialist organisations and the majority are free.

Keep fit

Physical exercise is so important for mental health and wellbeing. If you’re having to stay indoors you can still keep active! Many yoga studios are now moving their classes online so why not sign up and support a yoga teacher/studio whilst keeping fit and staying mindful?

YouTube is a also a great source for free workout videos. Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, has loads of free online workouts. And if you’re a parent, he’s got a whole playlist of workouts for kids too.

Bet many of you have bought an exercise DVD over the years – well now’s the time to bust those babies out! I’ll definitely be putting on Jillian Michael’s 6 minute fixes, which I bought seven years ago to get in shape for my wedding.

Jillian Michaels workout DVD

Read all the books!

I have so many books on my book shelf that I’ve never got round to reading – most of which were gifts. Well now that I’m no longer having to commute, I have loads of time to dedicate to reading. Plus, it’s great for getting away from a screen…

Perhaps you could start a (safe) book swop with your neighbours?

Wondering why I didn’t read on my commute? It’s not that easy if you’re squashed on a tube and holding a hand rail!

My reading list of books

Watch all those series, films and box sets

Never got round to watching The Sopranos, The Wire, Homeland, Luther etc? Got a stack of movies on DVD that you’ve never watched (guilty!)? Wondering what The Stranger is all about? Well, get that popcorn on the hob and settle down for some quality screen time.

Live on your own? Why not invite your friends to a Netflix Party? There’s a chat box so you can comment like you would if you were watching it in the same room together! Here’s how to host a Netflix Party.

Listen to podcasts

I’m a massive podcast fan! There are podcasts for everything – true crime, diet and lifestyle, documentaries, science, politics, books… you name it. Here’s 8 podcasts I loved last year.

Who the hell is Hamish podcast

Recent ones I’ve listened to that I highly recommend are:

  • The Dream – season 1 is all about multi-level marketing. Fascinating!
  • Fake Heiress – about Anna Delvey who conned New York high society into believing she was an heiress. Apparently being made into a Netflix series.
  • The Missing Cryptoqueen – the story of Dr Ruja Ignatova, the founder of OneCoin and how she got millions to buy into her ‘financial revolution’.
  • Verified – the pretty alarming story of women who were drugged and sexually assaulted by an Italian police officer, who seemed like the perfect host on a couch surfing website, and how they brought him to justice.

Keep connected

It’s so important to keep up those human connections, even if you’re having to self isolate or socially distance yourself. Thankfully technology has made this so easy.

Now with just a tap, you can video call a friend or loved one through Facetime, Skype or Facebook Messenger- wherever they are in the world. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I spoke to so many people via phone! We’re so used to just texting or messaging and I think it’s lovely now that we’re making a more conscious effort to talk rather than text.

Make lists

I got this tip from my lovely friend Lauretta, of Home and Horizon, who posted this on her Instagram Stories. I think it’s such a good idea as creating lists helps focus your mind, brings routine to your day (if it’s a daily task list) and can keep you inspired and motivated (think ‘must see travel list’ or ‘things I’ve always wanted to do’ list).

As we don’t know when next we’ll be able to travel abroad, I’m going to create a list of places in the UK we want to explore. Luckily I have a great book to help!

Escape London book to plan UK breaks

I hope you’ve found this post useful! My good friend Jen has a post on 100 free things you can do at home if you’re self isolating.

I’d love to know your tips to stay busy and motivated? Please share them in the comments!

How to stay busy, motivated and connected during Coronavirus

Kirsty Marrins

Reader, writer, occasional runner, travel lover.




  • kerry

    I really want to read Where the Crawdads sing. I have heard rave reviews. Funnily enough, I asked on my stories about hobbies, and knitting came up a lot! I quite fancy it. I used to knit a lot as a child. You have mentioned a lot of my list already. Some other things I am doing;
    I am determined to write another chapter of my book,
    do lots of research into even more ways to live more sustainably,
    Start the renovation on ur junk room that is going to be my office
    walk every day in the woods near my house

    • Kirsty Marrins

      It’s next on my list! Must say, I’m loving knitting again and wondered why I ever stopped?
      So exciting you’re writing a book! It’s been a dream of mine but I’ve never done it… think I wrote about 2 pages once!
      The renovation work sounds great – hope you’ll write a post about it with lots of before and after pics?

  • Lauretta Wright

    I didn’t know the British Heart Foundation did a delivery service – that’s amazing news as I’ve already got two large cardboard boxes filled up after all the decluttering I’ve done! I have a feeling they are going to be inundated once this is all over though! 🙂 Thanks for tagging me in and I’m super chuffed the lists inspired you – THANK YOU. And you’ve also inspired me because I had completely forgotten about the podcasts and I’ve just spent the last 1/2 hour searching and subscribing to a few! I hope you’re staying safe amongst all this mayhem Kirsty! Stay positive x

    • Kirsty Marrins

      Yes, they do pick up. Such a great service and I hope they’ll be inundated after – and other charity shops too – as sadly this has hit charities badly… yay, glad you subscribed to some podcasts! Which have you subscribed to? X

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