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19 Activities to Keep You Engaged during the COVID-19 lockdown

It has been about a rough three months since the novel coronavirus took the world by storm. Because of the severity of the pandemic, most people in most states have been advised to self-quarantine and stay indoors. Though cases of sickness from the disease have not been reported yet right here, we could all agree, that the existence of the fact that we know it (the virus) exists and its claiming lives has caused most of us to experience high levels of anxiety, isolation and psychological distress; most days seem to take so long to come to an end; leaving us wondering about how long days like this are going to last. This follows a 32 day ban on social gatherings, travel, events, immediate suspension of schools and institutions of learning, concerts, conferences, prayer places, bars and any other places or ceremonial events like weddings, burials and any other sort of engagements that are known to bring a collection of masses of people all in one place. These are some of the emotions triggered by the unprecedented lockdown, ever since the novel coronavirus was first discovered; causing a state of emergency.  The mood nationwide has evolved over the course of the lockdown — from shock and panic in the initial days, to acceptance. We kind of have to accept this as reality, and change our lifestyle to adapt to this new life, since there’s little we can do to change what is going on.

No one expected this, and no one was prepared. This is a strange and unusual time for everyone. This has us finding ways to keep busy during the coronavirus scare and shutdown. Therefore, make time to do special things as an individual or family.  I’ve put together an array of ideas to help take your mind off of COVID-19. With safety as the priority, you won’t find any playground, playdate or group outing ideas on this list. Health experts warn against those. Here are some ways to stay sane, entertained in the comfort of your own home, including some creative ways to remain social. Read on:

De-stress with an in-home workout.:

If you are the type just like I, that has always postponed working out because of your tight schedule and engagements, now would be the perfect time to get exercising; as exercise (working out) has proven a good mood-booster. There are plenty of free fitness apps too: like FitOn, Freeletics, and Simply Yoga. And don’t forget YouTube, offers a wealth of kickboxing, and other video-streamed routines. From yoga to kickboxing to HIIT workouts, online classes and fitness apps enable you to exercise in the comfort of your own home.

Get some fresh air. All state parks and forest districts across the state are closing to the public. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get outside. “There’s nothing healthy about sitting around for 24 hours a day in your house,” says Bucks County health department director Dr. David Damsker. “If you’re healthy and maintain the six to 10 feet distances from others, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go out and get some air.”

Get crafty. Keep your mind and hands busy by diving into a DIY project. Whether you want to learn how to crochet or build your own wooden pallet coffee table, the internet offers a wealth of free tutorials for almost everything imaginable. You could also delve into some pottery and mold some vases, and simple objects.

Consider signing up for a Google Digital Skills for Africa Certification: 

This is an online certification program that runs under two days and it is by Google. Primarily geared towards enabling you grow your career or business by equipping you with flexible and personalized training courses. This comes with a whole package including knowledge on how to create digital advertising plans, understand how web analytics work, guidance on how to write a business plan, educates users on how to make the most their devices, search engine optimization; to mention but a few. Visit: https://learndigital.withgoogle.com to sign up and find out more.

Baking and cooking:  Cupcakes, queen cakes, name it. Try that recipe (and stock your freezer with home-cooked meals). Make cooking feel less like a chore and more like a special occasion by picking out some new recipes to try this season. You could also curate a playlist just for the kitchen, filled with tunes you can jam out to while you cook. As a family, split roles at the kitchen table, and bond more over cooking time,

Dive into a good book. While public libraries are closed, you can access reading materials online; by making good use of the virtual library, that include e-books, audiobooks, movies, magazines, and music. As you lay back in your couch at home, trying out some famous titles such as “The Lord of the flies”, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Adventures of Thomas Sawyer” among others; would really be good to sharpen your imagination, keep you engaged and also tickle your mind a little.

Catch up on podcasts.

Binging Netflix is an obvious self-quarantine activity. But don’t forget about podcasts, which you can throw on while cooking, doing at-home push-ups, or taking a stroll around the block. Podcasts are an excellent way to distract yourself as there are plenty of options centered on cooking, sports, and even motivational and Christian podcasts. You could also choose to make your own podcast by simply recording yourself and putting it up.

Get outside! You probably aren’t at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus while on uncrowded nature walk paths, bike rides through your neighborhood, or doing outdoor things as a family, away from crowded areas.

Don’t say no to video games:

Instead of banning or avoiding them, turn them into a family event for a pre-determined amount of time. Create a contest or tournament and play along with the kids so they’re not begging to play video games the entire time you’re trying to convince them to do other stuff. As an individual, you could also play against the computer (like we usually call it). This is because games have been known to possess a high mental reward system as they have an influence on the mind’s happiness and motivation system as well.

Backyard soccer: Soccer is the world’s most popular sport—and that may just be because it’s so easy to play at the drop of a hat. All you need is four people, a ball and a field (your backyard will do just fine). You can use simple blocks or whatever you have laying around to create goals. There’s not much else to it! As a family or neighbors forming teams should be so easy and therefore the sport would be on.

Making YouTube videos (Vlogging):

People love YouTube, and being the 2nd most popular search engine in the world, many people actually make their own YouTube videos, ranging from tutorials to filming themselves playing video games (yes, seriously). This is a great opportunity to have some fun with a group of friends or as a family. Put together a funny scripted home video or a cheesy action movie. Then keep it to yourselves or put it on YouTube. It will get the whole group laughing.

Games, games, games:

Games are fun for everyone. I know I mentioned games earlier on but those were more of video games. So, in this regard, I do refer to board games, go and explore your cupboard and pull out the games you haven’t tried for ages.  You could try out these; “Ludo”, monopoly, snakes and ladders, playing cards, scrabble, chess, cards etc.

Consider amateur photography:

 

Take photos and edit them, try out filters and special effects. Take videos and make a movie using free video-editing software. There are many tutorials on YouTube to help you with that.

Read and Listen:

Find new books on the Kindle app if you’ve read your whole bookcase. Think about the books you loved as a child and try them out on your kids.  Audible has a library full of audio books for those who prefer to listen. If anyone hasn’t yet discovered Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter, now is the time. Hours and hours of listening joy.

Even if you can’t get out, keep active.  Use exercise programmes. Download a circuit training app for your phone. Construct obstacle courses in your front room. Put on some music and dance to it. The neighbors will understand.

Sing like no one is listening. Singing makes us feel good. Sing even if you think and know you can’t sing. Its good for your relaxation and calming to the mind.

Try out some Poetry. You could use some of this your alone time to venture into writing. Into penning down verses, lines of words and wipe some poetry. In case you are a written poet like I, this lock down time could be an opportunity for you to try out with reciting or practicing some spoken word. Remember what they say about practice? – It makes perfect!

Spend at least a half-hour alone each day to read, color, nap, or do whatever is relaxing.

All in all; Look after yourself: This could be a long haul. In whatever you do, you need to keep yourself healthy and sane. Don’t check the news constantly, make sure you cook food you like, and instigate some time when you are not available to your children.  Find an audio book for you, or dive into a novel which takes you far away from March 2020. Make time for activity every day. 

News about the coronavirus is changing quickly, which keeps raising more panic and mental stampede, I would therefore recommend we regulate how much time we spend online (on the internet; more so social media), because in an age and era that gets most of our news and updates about current affairs off Twitter and other online avenues, I am sorry to say this, but the more we know, the more worried, anxious and depressed the idea of what could happen we become. This is mostly because we get information that is not well filtered, packaged and prepared for our minds to consume. It merely is just dropped on us, from time to time. So, cutting down on the time we spend on the socials would allow our minds a little more peace and rest from this information overflow.

Remember to:

Use hand sanitizers, keep washing your hands with soap, avoid shaking hands and hugging, keep your phone clean, avoid crowds, do not spit in public and to stay home if you have flu.

Most of the activities suggested above do require one to have an internet connection and guess what; our good MTN Uganda people have come with special bundles in solidarity of the crisis we undergoing at the moment. The internet bundles are dubbed “MTN WORK FROM HOME Bundles”. These can be accessed by dialing *150*19#, upon which a user is able to purchase themselves or a friend 1GB of data for only Ugx. 2,000/= and are valid from 9am to 5PM.

And as a word of encouragement, I do know the pandemic won’t last forever; and before we know it- all shall be back to normal. We do serve a living GOD.