man playing guitar with toddler

“You Need To Get A Hobby” Is Not An Insult During Coronavirus Quarantine

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing, and the quarantine life is slowly but surely becoming the norm.

You may find yourself with extra time on your hands and in need of something fun to do. You might have the kids at home and be adjusting to home-schooling. If you are an essential worker, you may be braving the storm.

Whether you suddenly have your entire day free or you’re just as busy as ever, it’s important to take a break for yourself and do something fun. It will help you destress and get through these difficult times. And what better way to do that than take up that hobby you’ve been thinking about for years?

Learn Ballet

Or hip-hop. Or tap. Dance studios and teachers from around the world are offering free or low-cost dance classes for students of all levels that you can stream right in your living room. You don’t need to have the right shoes or wear a leotard — just make sure you’re on a floor where you won’t slip, and wear something that you can easily move in.

This is a great way to get moving and keep up physical activity while doing something that’s a little different than your normal workout routine.

Check out some of these sites to learn about free and low-cost classes:

  • Pointe.com: This is a list of classes. The cheaper ones are closer to the bottom, so scroll down.
  • TapDanceLessons.com: There are both free and paid classes for all experience levels.
  • Fred Astaire: These are technically couples’ dances, but they are encouraging people who are socially distancing to still take the classes and stand six feet apart — if you can get this on video, it will probably be a major laugh later.

Become A Broadway Star

Well, at least in your head.

Broadway Weekends at Home is offering free online musical theatre classes (via Zoom) taught by Broadway and West End professionals. And for Broadway fans, this is hard-core geeking out time. Sarah Crane from the touring cast of Mean Girls recently taught actual choreography from the show, and Hannah Shankman from the Broadway cast of Wicked gave a talk on the process of making it to Broadway. 

These classes max out at 100 participants, but you can find plenty of other classes, seminars, and chats with the stars. Check out Playbill.com’s list of upcoming activities.

And for the ultimate geeking-out for Broadway wannabes and musical theatre fans, there are often opportunities to perform in front of the artists for personal feedback or to submit a video of yourself singing to be part of a global digital chorus. These have deadlines for submissions, but keep checking out Playbill.com’s site under “Theatre Alternatives” for current opportunities. 

Master An Instrument

Playing an instrument isn’t only fun, but it also has health benefits. People who play music have been shown to have better emotional release and decreased anxiety — which might be exactly what you need right now.

Learning to play does involve investing in an instrument if you don’t already have one. If you do have one, brush off those piano keys or dig out the guitar that’s been sitting in your storage closet. There are websites offering lessons for free or at a minimal cost. For example, PianoNet.com offers low-cost lessons (monthly and annual plans), and they have some classes for free on their sister-site, PianoLessons.com. You can also check out guitar and ukulele lessons. (Check out YouTube for free lessons, too.) 

You can buy or download free sheet music on sites like Musicnotes.com, which also has an app so you can look at the music without printing it.

Get Into Coding

Quarantine might not be enough time to learn enough skills to create a sophisticated website that becomes the next Facebook. But there are many online classes (including lots of free ones) where you can learn the basics of coding. It’s not as daunting as it might seem, and it is actually very rewarding to play around with codes and see the results.

Plus, if you are going to be on the job hunt soon, having even the most basic programming skills can make your resume stand out.

Check out this round-up of Bill Gates’s favorite free online coding classes for beginners.

Volunteer

It’s common to hear people say that they wish they could volunteer but they just don’t have the time.

The good news is that now, you might finally have that time. The even better news is that you don’t need to risk exposure or even leave your couch to help others. Take advantage of virtual volunteer opportunities. For example, the smartphone app Be My Eyes connects you to blind and low-vision people who need help with everyday tasks like checking expiration dates. You act as their eyes via video call.

Or, try Crisis Text Line. Social distancing and the fear of the virus have taken a toll on many people’s mental health. Crisis Text Line offers free 24/7 support for those going through a crisis. If you’re over 18, you can receive free training to become a Crisis Counselor.

And if you are okay going out, consider doing grocery or pharmacy runs for people who are having trouble getting out. Many delivery services are overwhelmed, leaving people desperate for food or medicine with no way to get it. Just be sure to follow precautions like wearing gloves, and washing your hands with soap and water.

Hone Your Home Improvement Skills

Get crafty.

Paint walls with blackboard, whiteboard, or magnetic paint. You don’t need to do the whole wall — just a square does the trick (with the help of painters’ tape). These are super helpful if you work from home and like making schedules or idea boards, or if you want to give your kids something fun to do that doesn’t involve screen time.

DIY shelving is also an easy project. You can buy slabs of wood cut to the exact length you need at hardware stores like Home Depot. These stores are still open, and most have curbside pick-up so you can order ahead and not have physical contact with anyone. Then install, paint, stain, wallpaper — follow those creative instincts.

And speaking of wallpaper …

This is a fantastic time to experiment with removable wallpaper. These are just rolls that look like wrapping paper and don’t require any prep work. They peel off easily, without leaving any damage, which is especially great if you live in an apartment. You don’t need to stick to walls — removable wallpaper works for ugly bathroom floors (if you get the waterproof kind) or outdated countertops, too.

Check out this before (tiles so ugly I wouldn’t take a full-room picture) and after (the magic of wallpaper):

Create Lesson Plans For Your Kids

This might not sound like a hobby. However, you’d be surprised how fun it can actually be.

Teachers are posting their own lessons, but why not take the opportunity to customize lessons and tailor them to your kids’ interests and needs? Make fun flashcards, come up with arts and crafts projects, etc. You will find that it’s not only much more fun that it sounds — it’s also a really great opportunity to learn more about your kids’ interests and learning styles so you can help them and advocate for them in the future.

 

Make Your Debut As The Next Low-Budget Filmmaker

There is a series of [totally underrated] videos on YouTube that are insanely low-budget remakes of tech-heavy movies. They use household items like a computer keyboard for the ship in Titanic and Pringles cans and a toilet seat for the Quidditch Pitch in Harry Potter.

This will definitely take creativity and a good amount of time. But fortunately, depending on your job, time may be much easier to come by these days.

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