For many, working from home might be the new normal—but that doesn’t mean we still don’t go a bit stir crazy from time to time. I spend more time in my apartment than I ever thought possible. My studio and I are now so acquainted that we might actually be… in a relationship? In the early days of connecting with my inner homebody, I reorganized my pantry, rearranged furniture to “keep it fresh,” and might have counted the number of wood planks on my floor.
With all of this time spent at home, I’ve been struggling to separate work from pleasure, and my life has become one blue light blob of working on my computer and winding down by scrolling through bad news and politically incorrect memes on my newsfeed. If you’re also looking for ways to ignite your creativity, find a different way to entertain your soul, and be intentional with your “me” time, you might want to try picking up a new hobby. Thankfully, there are plenty of pastimes that you can do in the comfort of your own home that (brace yourself) don’t involve scrolling on Instagram.
1. Learn calligraphy
I don’t know what it is about calligraphy that is so mesmerizing to me, but I feel like I must learn it in this life in order to feel fulfilled. Cue me buying this extremely affordable beginner practice book and these brush pens on Amazon and cut to scenes of me sweating while scribbling lowercase e’s all over my planner for practice.
2. Work out online
Speaking of sweating, one thing COVID-19 gave us is a ridiculous amount of at-home workout services. In the early days of the pandemic, I tried a 60-minute free yoga class hosted by Corepower Yoga and wow, did it feel good to move. Some of my regular gym options are off of the table due to precautions, but I still have my yoga mat and my breath and can make it work!
A lot of gyms have closed or have limited in-person class options, but some fitness centers stepped up and offered at-home virtual workout options. In addition to Peloton offering a free 90-day trial for their online classes, Tone It Up, Beachbody, ObéFitness, P.volve, YogaWorks, and Pilates Anytime are all online-based programs that also offer free trials to help you save money while keeping active in your own home.
3. Learn how to cook
Listen, I’m all for living off of buttered noodles and red wine, but there’s something about mastering a new recipe and switching up your routine to make you feel full-bellied and accomplished. If you’re new to cooking, go easy on yourself and have a backup plan in case something catches on fire (speaking from personal experience here). If you’re already a pro, branch out and tackle that one recipe you’ve been eyeing for months now. Baking desserts is also welcomed and encouraged. Be sure to send all leftovers my way.
4. Practice meditation
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: meditation has significantly improved my life. Once I realized that you don’t have to sit cross-legged with your eyes closed and woke up to what meditation actually can be, I have found it to be a great way to step away from the chaos of life and to check in with my bad self. The best part about meditation is that you have all of the tools to get started already within you. You can do it anywhere you’d like, and it’s free!
5. Pick up needlework
Q: What’s a hobby to get me away from my screen and to keep my hands busy? A: Knitting or crocheting. According to Martha Stewart Magazine, the difference between the two types of needlework differ in the “technique and tool” used. To my grandmother’s disappointment, I have never taken part in either activity, but even watching how-to videos on YouTube is extremely satisfying. I’ve been itching to make one of the Pinterest-worthy merino wool blankets (which employs a hand-knitting technique), and this feels like the perfect time to make my dreams a reality.
6. Learn an instrument
Bust out your recorder from elementary school, because it’s that baby’s time to shine. Fun fact, I learned how to play Baby by Justin Bieber on the piano via YouTube in high school, and it’s my favorite party trick to date. There’s no better time to connect with your musical side, and YouTube has a plethora of videos to get you started, no matter the instrument you decide to rock out on.
Channel your inner Frida Kahlo and get to painting, my friends. You don’t have to be an artist to pick up a paintbrush and get busy. If you want to go freehand, this painting kit from Amazon has everything you need to get started. If you’re like me and would like some direction (and a guaranteed pretty result), this paint-by-numbers set is a must-have. Put on some of your favorite tunes, grab a glass of wine, and get artsy.
8. Make your own soap, candles, you name it…
Sick of making bread and tie-dying everything in sight? Time to level up your crafting. You’re going through more soap than ever before (all that hand-washing really cuts into your soap collection) and candles always add a little ambiance. Why not try making your own? Order yourself some supplies, watch a few how-to videos, and get going. Bonus: you now have easy gifts for friends celebrating their birthday while staying apart.
9. Learn how to apply your makeup
Why are makeup tutorials so entertaining? Probably because full-face looks seem like a far-off dream—who has money for 32 high-end products and who is going anywhere fancy enough to be glam all of the time? I can’t hate on it too much—everything I’ve learned about makeup I’ve learned from my favorite YouTube beauty icons. I love a good before and after, trying out new techniques (mastering a winged eyeliner, for instance), and getting the 411 on new product reviews. Some of my favorite beauty bloggers to learn from include Desi Perkins, Carli Bybel, and Jackie Aina. (Be careful, once you watch one, it’s easy to fall down a YouTube beauty tutorial rabbit hole—which might not be the worst thing in the world at this point.)
10. Learn to code
OK, so you don’t want to focus on being as productive as possible while you’re staying home more, but hear us out: coding is a real transferable skill that can mean big things for your career, whether you’re hoping to make a job switch or you’re just interested in broadening your knowledge base for down the road. There are tons of online courses that can teach you to code from your couch, meaning that by the time you’re ready to head back into the office, you’ll have a brand-new skill to bring with you.
11. Take care of your plants
If you, too have acquired more plants over the last couple of years, you probably already know full well that plants need regular attention and care. But if you’ve already seen the demise of at least one, you may wonder if you really have what it takes to grow your plant collection. Opt for easy-to-care-for plants until you feel more comfortable. Dive into resources about a new-to-you plant. Does it need a ton of light? Sparse water? A certain temperature or humidity level? There’s so much to learn, but so many resources to help you become a houseplant pro.
12. Take up photography
Dust off that DSLR you swore you were going to use on your trip abroad, and let’s get to learning! If you’re using your DSLR on “auto” mode, you’re doing it wrong. Even though your pictures might turn out OK, you’re probably not using your camera to its fullest potential.
That being said, DSLR or not, learning the groundwork of photography can help you to up your game and take better pictures in the future. Watching YouTube videos to learn about photography basics (aperture, exposure, shutter speed, and ISO), tips/tricks, and mistakes to avoid can help you understand the camera you already have or inspire you to invest in one. Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs by Henry Carroll has great reviews on Amazon and is another great place to start!
13. Learn a new hairstyle
If you tend to wear your hair the same way most days because of a lack of time to do anything you’re not quite as familiar with, now is the time to branch out and learn something new. Watch tutorials on YouTube or Instagram, gather any tools or supplies you may need, and give it a try. Practice makes perfect, after all.
14. Practice journaling
If you’re not already journaling, now would be an ideal time to begin. Writing about the day’s happenings or whatever is weighing on your heart can be therapeutic, but the art of journaling doesn’t end there. Last year, I got bored writing about myself, so I found some great sites for journaling prompts to help me tap into new areas of my brain. Grab your favorite pen (I’m obsessed with these ones) and a notebook, and you’re set.
15. Prioritize your financial health
Financial planning should always be at the top of our list of things to do but let’s be honest: when life is hectic, many of us (myself included) put finances on the back-burner. There’s no better time than the present to take control of your money. Dealing with finances is no easy feat, but you’re not alone! A good place to start? Check out our finance archives or pick up one of these 10 TEG-approved financial help books.
16. Make a vision board
Making a vision board is the perfect way to get crafty while also setting your sights on the future. It can help to have a visual aid to remind you of who you want to be, where you want to go, and what you want to accomplish. All you need is a canvas/poster board, a printer, some magazines, glue, scissors, and markers and you’ll be visualizing your dreams in no time. Bonus points if you FaceTime a friend and pop some champagne while doing it—friends that set goals together stay together, am I right?
17. Give your old furniture a refresh
That old coffee table in your living room could use some updating. Depending on what you want to do (and what the furniture currently looks like), you’ll need sanding and scraping supplies, some plastic sheeting (to work on), and some new paint. Transform the whole look of your space in no time at all.
18. Foster an animal
Fostering animals is an incredibly awesome way to spend your time. Reach out to your local shelter and see how you can get involved to help furry friends in need. Not only may it result in a cuteness overload, cuddles, and kisses, but it’ll help prepare the animal for future adoption and free up room in the shelter, allowing the shelter to take new animals in. Get some puppy (or kitty) lovin’ without the long-term commitment, and thank me later.
19. Tackle your TBR pile
If you have a large stack of books just waiting to be read, consider taking some time and diving in. You may not be able to jet off on a beach vacation this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some quality reading time in.
20. Teach yourself a new language
I downloaded Duolingo last year to brush up on my Spanish (really wish I would have paid better attention during my high school language course), and it’s one of my favorite pastimes. It’s great for beginners, portable, and free, which is always a plus. Download it with a friend so that you can practice together over FaceTime, check out these additional tips, and when you’re ready to travel again, book a trip overseas so that you can “refine the language.”