So… I’m into day three of a 14-day stay-away-from-everyone buzz.
I was out of Ireland for a little bit and had to leg it back when borders started to close.
Like many people, I’m struggling to keep myself occupied and I’m finding that I’m wasting a good chunk of my day bet into my phone.
So, in an attempt to discover some things to do to stop myself going up the wall, and to hopefully help a few of you, I’ve whacked together the guide below.
I’ve broken it up into a few different sections:
- Heaps of ways to look after your head
- Things to do with mates when you fancy a pint but can’t leave the gaff
- Netflix, books, the theatre and brilliant Irish films
- Boredom-batin’ websites that’ll keep you amused
- Home workouts and online yoga classes
- Things to keep hard-to-amuse kids occupied
- Learn something new and worthwhile
Look after your head
It’s easy to feel stressed, scared and lonely with everything going on. It’s also easy to get stuck staring at a screen, absorbing bad news for hours on end.
Anxiety levels can spike and cabin fever can set in quickly. If you’re struggling, don’t do so alone.
The HSE has a hub on their website where you can find resources to help if you’re finding this time difficult to navigate.
Below, you’ll find more ways to keep your head healthy during this strange time. Have suggestions for more things to add? Let me know in the comments section
1. Get into a healthy routine from the get-go
It’s easy to pick up bad habits when you’re stuck at home for long periods of time. If you’re used to getting up early and commuting, you won’t know yourself if you’re working from home for the first time.
Avoid staying up until all hours of the night watching shite on YouTube, aim to get up at your regular Monday to Friday time and try and eat as healthy as possible.
If you’re struggling to keep to good habits, try the Habitbull app – it’s a habit tracker that helps you form and stick to healthy behaviours.
2. ‘Weather the Storm’ with Headspace
If you’re not familiar with ‘Headspace’, it’s a healthcare app that helps you discover and master meditation.
Headspace have recently launched a new free meditation portal where they’re offering free meditations that you can listen to at any time.
It’s called ‘Weathering the Storm’ and the series includes meditations, sleep, and movement exercises. There’s also a free 2-week trial of their full app currently on offer.
3. Stay calm… with ‘Calm’
‘Calm’ is another popular mindfulness and meditation app that’s now offering to help people cope during this time.
Interestingly enough, the app features a half-hour bedtime story that’s read to you by Matthew McConaughey. Very relaxing altogether.
4. Get yo sweat on with a high-intensity workout
There’s a clear link between a solid workout and a clear head. If like me, you’re used to relying on well kitted out gyms, you might be struggling to get a decent workout in.
Luckily, there are an endless number of gyms, trainers and yoga instructures offering free online classes that you can take part in. You’ll find 10 of them in our workout section later on in this guide.
Or, if you’d prefer to go it alone, you could also spend some time learning how to build your own routine!
5. Get your gaff in order
If, like many, you’ve been saying ‘the next time I’ve a bitta time free I’m going to sort out Y or fix X’, now’s the time to do it.
Paint that ropey looking downstairs bathroom, clean all of that crap out of the box room or fix up the garden.
It’ll keep you occupied and you’ll feel a sense of achievement when it’s done. Just keep in mind that all non-essential shops will be closed, so you’ll need to already have any DIY gear that you may need.
6. Do nothing for two minutes
This sounds like a load of shite, but trust me, it’s brilliant. The website Donothingfor2minutes.com helps you quiet the mind.
All you need to do is stop, listen to the waves and try and empty your mind of all thoughts. This is much harder than it sounds, trust me.
There’s a timer on the page that resets if you move the mouse. Try and do this a couple of times over the course of your day.
7. Learn the science of happiness
The Science of Happiness course from the folks at EDX does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a free 8-week course that offers practical tips on living a meaningful (and happy!) life.
According to their website it, ‘offers students practical strategies for tapping into and nurturing their own happiness, including trying several research-backed activities that foster social and emotional well-being, and exploring how their own happiness changes along the way.’
8. Give your brain a tease
Bored out of your mind browsing YouTube? Me too! If you fancy tackling a puzzle, this website has 16 brain-teasers that have stumped the internet over the years.
Some are handy-ish while others are far more tricky to figure out. If you finish these, give some of these car ride games and puzzles a lash.
Things to do with mates when you fancy a pint but can’t leave the gaff
The section of the guide is for those of you looking to catch up with friends over a beer or coffee, virtually, or for those of you looking to dive into a virtual gig.
From the Houseparty app where you can catch up with friends while playing games (and sipping cans…) to virtual concerts and Bingo Loco, you’ll find plenty to keep you going below.
Know of a virtual concert or something else that we should add in here? Let me know in the comments section at the end of this guide!
9. Have a ‘Houseparty’ with your friends… without leaving the gaff
So, this whole ‘Houseparty’ buzz is completely alien to me. If you haven’t heard of it, ‘Houseparty’ is a face to face social network that has exploded in the last few weeks.
You can kick back and chat with one friend or a group or you can play games like Trivia and Heads Up.
If you’re missing meeting up with mates for a coffee or flaking out in the corner of a pub and chatting shit, give this a lash.
10. Virtual Bingo Loco
Yes, you can now take part in Bingo Loco from the comfort of your couch. MC Andrew Stanley and DJ Jaz Keane are taking the reins of the virtual show which promises confetti showers, C02 cannons, bingo and celebrity guests.
The event, which you need to sign up for in advance, takes place on Saturday, March 28th. You’ll be given a bingo book that you can print out and you can submit your wins via a WhatsApp channel that’s managed by the Bingo Loco team.
11. Enjoy a virtual gig in aid of Childline
This. Sounds. Class. If you’re missing live music, this collab between Childline and MCD should be right up your street.
There are seven different gigs taking place and they kick off with Hozier this Friday (March 27th) at 19:00. Here’s a full list of the gigs.
- Hozier: Friday 27th at 19:00
- Danny O’Reilly: Saturday at 19:00
- Wild Youth: Sunday at 19:00
- Kodaline: Monday at 19:00
- Dermot Kennedy: Tuesday at 19:00
- Picture This: Wednesday at 19:00
- Gavin James: Thursday at 19:00
You can donate to Childline online here or you can text to donate (info here).
12. Have the buzz and paint with pints
There’s a virtual Paint by the Pints class with artist Jill Shanley taking place on Friday, March 27th, from 19:00.
It’s completely free and you’ll be able to follow a step-by-step class to painting a Koi fish. While drinking cans, if you fancy. More info on the event here.
Netflix, books, the theatre and brilliant Irish films
If you’d rather just flake out and binge on a new Netflix series or kick back with a book or an audiobook, this section’s for you.
Below, you’ll find everything from great Irish movies and documentaries to virtual tours of Ireland and plenty more.
13. Dive into the best Irish movies… ever
We compiled a guide to the 38 best Irish films of all time a couple of months back. It’s packed with comedies, dramas and action flicks from Ireland.
Some of these films are ancient and timeless, while others have been released in the last few years. If you love a solid Irish movie, you’ll love this guide to the best of them
14. Dive into a documentary on Netflix
There’s a heap of ridiculously interesting documentaries on Netflix Ireland that range from everything from wildlife to murder.
From Blue Planet with the mighty David Attenborough to the harrowing Accountant of Auschwitz, there’s something to tickle every fancy.
If you nip into our guide to 14 of the best documentaries on Netflix Ireland you’ll find a load of decent ones to binge on
15. Bing-watch-worthy series
Netflix Ireland is home to an absolute rake of brilliant binge-worthy series. However, it’s also home to just as many, if not more, crap ones.
In our guide to the best shows on Netflix Ireland, you’ll find a load of (hopefully) new series to dip into.
I’ve added in the Rotten Tomatoes score so you’ll have an idea of what others think before you commit to one.
16. Dive into an Irish movie on Netflix
Although many of the best Irish movies are yet to be added to Netflix, the streaming service does boast its fair share of them.
While you won’t find the likes of Waking Ned or The Van, you will find some brilliant (and often unheard of) Irish movies on Netflix.
If you’re looking for one to dive into tonight, give a Bad Day for the Cut a crack – it’s easily one of the best Irish movies that I’ve watched in the last couple of years.
17. Or kick back with a non-Irish film that’ll grip you from start to finish
One of the biggest issues that I have with Netflix is that I often spend just as much time looking for a film as I do watching one.
In our guide to the 29 best movies on Netflix Ireland, you’ll find a load of different films that are worth a watch.
18. Visit the theatre…
So, you can now visit the theatre virtually, thanks to the BroadwayHD streaming service who are now offering a 7-day free trial.
You can watch a number of different performances from Broadway, the West End, and other swanky venues, with shows like Cats, The King and I and The Sound of Music all available.
19. Ditch the screen and listen to an audiobook
If you’re not familiar with ‘Audible’, it’s an audiobook streaming service from Amazon that enables you to listen to your favourite stories on demand.
They’re offering a 30-day free trial at the minute, which is perfect for those of you looking to edge away from spending too much time on screens.
20. Or have a free go of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited
I tried this when I was away on holiday recently and it was deadly. Now, a disclaimer – you need a kindle for this, so it won’t work for everyone.
A Kindle Unlimited subscription allows you to borrow ebooks from a large selection of titles. You simply find a book, download it and read away.
The one thing that I didn’t like about Kindle Unlimited was that the selection of books was… limited. Series like Jack Reacher, for example, weren’t available for download.
21. Take a virtual tour of some of Ireland’s top attractions
If you’re struggling with staying indoors, or if you’ve kids that you’re looking to amuse, take a virtual visit to many of Ireland’s top attractions.
You can admire the Cliffs of Moher, explore many of Ireland’s top museums and take a peek inside the President’s house.
OK, so you’re sick of movies and shows and you’re looking to whittle away a bit of time – but you want to spend it looking at something interesting AF.
There are plenty of sites out there where you can kill a bit of time while learning something new, having a laugh and discovering some new music.
22. Binge-read the best of Reddit
If you’re not familiar with Reddit, it’s a social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website.
Users can submit content to the site, like stories, links, images and more. Over their many years of being online, some incredible posts threads have been published.
There’s an ENDLESS number of hilarious, interesting and terrifying Reddit threads from over the years. You can browse the best of them here.
23. Discover new music
I listen to the same music… over and over and over again. I came across a website called Gnoosic a few days back and I’ve recommended it to about 20 people over WhatsApp since.
It’s brilliant. In a nutshell, the website helps you discover new music based on the bands and artists that you already like. Sounds simple, but it works!
24. Discover uncontacted tribes
I spent an hour on this website yesterday. ‘Uncontacted Tribes’ is a collection of videos, pictures, and stories of uncontacted tribes from across the world.
According to their site, ‘There are more than a hundred uncontacted tribes around the world. They are a vitally important part of humankind’s diversity, but they face catastrophe unless their land is protected. We’re doing everything we can to secure their land for them, and to let them live.’
25. Find a good movie to watch
A Good Movie To Watch is another handy site to have in your boredom-batin’ arsenal. It does exactly what it says on the tin – it helps you discover great movies based on:
- The genre you like
- The mood you’re in
It also explains why the movie is worth watching.
26. Find something to cook (using only what you have in your gaff)
This is easily one of my favourite websites out there and it’s perfect for those of you with fridges and cabinets that are harbouring a random mix of ingredients.
All you have to do is whack in the ingredients that you have at home and it presents you with a load of recipes that you can follow. Very handy!
Home workouts and online yoga classes
One of the things that I’m struggling with, personally, is getting in a half-decent workout. Doing pushups in a stuffy little bedroom isn’t ideal…
That being said, we need to adjust to these new and hopefully very temporary ways of living and, thankfully, there are a shed-load of resources online to help us do so
A heap of companies, trainers and yoga instructors have come out to offer classes and workouts that you can easily follow along to. You’ll find some of the best below.
27. Discover which exercises target which part of the body (one for the beginners)
If you’re trying to figure out which exercises work out different parts of the body, MuscleWiki is well worth a visit.
You literally just click the body part, e.g. the leg, and it’ll present you with a load of exercises to do that target that body part.
Now, I had a fiddle around with this yesterday and there are many exercises that you won’t be able to do without a dumbbell or kettlebell, so keep that in mind.
28. Get shredded with that lad from the Avengers
If you’re looking to get to superhero shredded levels, an app called ‘Centr‘, created by actor Chris Hemsworth is offering a free 6-week trial.
There are home and gym workouts, meal plans and a heap of easy-to-follow videos. There’s also a mindfulness section that you can dive into.
29. Join the NIKE training club
The NIKE training club is a good one for those of you without access to gym equipment. The app provides you with custom workouts that are tailored to different fitness levels.
You can also follow workouts with some top athletes, like Isaiah Thomas and Cristiano Ronaldo. Find out more here.
30. Access 600+ workouts from Gold’s Gym
The now-iconic Gold’s Gym have made their app free until the end of May. The app boasts over 600 workouts that can be done at home or outdoors.
You can follow workouts through an audio guide or via video, set goals and track your progress over time.
31. Give Zumba a lash
If you’re looking to try something different, give Zumba a crack. Strong by Zumba takes you away from the ‘I need to hit X number of reps’ buzz and makes you train to the beat.
According to their website, ‘STRONG by Zumba is a revolutionary high-intensity workout led by music to help you make it to that last rep – and maybe even five more.’
32. Try some bodyweight workouts with GymShark
GymShark is known the world over for its trendy (and pricey!) gym gear, but it also offers a fitness app, which is now available to try for free.
The workouts require limited equipment and, at times, show you household objects that you can safely leverage for your workout.
33. Get a full-body workout with Barry’s Bootcamp
I had a friend from London who used to rave about Barry’s Bootcamp. She went on about it constantly, and I still don’t really know what it is…
What I do know is that they’re offering free high-intensity workouts on their Instagram page (@barrys) that go live 2-3 times per day.
There are also a load of workouts that are uploaded to their IGTV, so you can dive into them if you can’t make the live stream.
34. Give Pilates a lash
If you’re not into squatting around your living room, try your hand at Pilates. Core Collective is offering free virtual classes that’ll appeal to both beginners and those who’ve tried Pilates before.
Expect breathing exercises, stretching and a lot of low impact (but pretty damn challenging!) classes.
35. Burn 1,000 calories with Orangetheory Fitness
The folks at Orangetheory Fitness are now offering free virtual classes where you’ll burn up to 1,000 calories at a time.
The classes, which are uploaded to their Instagram account, are interval-based and, judging by the glance that I’ve had at their videos, pretty damn intense.
36. Get a session in with the Body Coach
Joe Wick’s, AKA ‘The Body Coach’ is broadcasting a clatter of live workouts on his Instagram account.
The workouts are available for 24 hours after they first go live. After that, you’ll find them on his Youtube channel.
The workouts are easy to follow and there are plenty of different ones to choose from. He also offers a good bit of nutrition advice if you have a nosey around his YouTube Channel.
37. Try Yoga with FLY LDN
If the workouts above haven’t tickled your fancy, you could always give yoga a crack. FLY LDN is offering a number of different classes for free.
Each class lasts 45-minutes and you can join them live on their Instagram account. You can also dip into older classes on their YouTube channel.
38. Live yoga with @littleyogawanderer
Dublin based @littleyogawanderer is running a live yoga class on Friday, March 27th, between 7.30-8.30pm.
The class is a full-body flow and it’s aimed at creating more space in your mind and body. If you miss the class, the chances are you’ll be able to catch it on IGTV later.
39. Join free live yoga 6 days per week with Triyoga studio
Triyoga, a UK based yoga and pilates studio announced that it is now offering free online classes 6 days per week, from Monday to Saturday.
Unlike many of the classes mentioned above, you’ll need to book a class via their website in order to join along.
Things to keep hard-to-amuse kids occupied
Our next section is one for the parents. If you’re a parent that’s juggling working from home and childminding, I salute you.
That’s no mean feat, to say the least! In the section below, you’ll find a heap of things to keep the kids entertained.
Expect everything from PE classes with the Body Coach to bedtime stories read by David Walliams in the section below.
40. Early morning PE with Joe Wick’s
Exercise is fundamentally important for all of us, young and old. Joe Wicks (of ‘The Body Coach’ fame) is running daily virtual workouts from Monday to Friday.
The classes are completely free and they’re easy to follow. Simply visit Joe’s YouTube channel when the stream is running and get the kids to follow along.
41. Storytime with David Walliams
David Walliams (I’ll forever struggle with spelling that name!) is releasing an audio story every day for the next 30 days to help keep kids entertained.
The Britain’s Got Talent judge has already released a couple of these in recent days, like the Terrible Triplets, but there are plenty more to come.
You can find each of the stories on David’s Twitter page. Just scroll back down through his feed to find the ones that have already been uploaded.
42. Give Disney+ a crack
Disney Plus Ireland, Disney’s long-awaited streaming service, has arrived and it’s wedged with 500+ movies, 350+ series and 26 exclusive Disney+ originals.
There are also 600 episodes of The Simpsons available to stream, so you’ll have plenty to keep the kids (and yourself!) entertained.
43. Visit Dublin Zoo from your couch
You can now visit Dublin Zoo from the comfort of your couch. If you visit their website, you’ll have access to three webcams.
According to Dublin Zoo, you can, ‘Catch a glimpse of the giraffes, zebras and rhinos on the African Savanna, get a birds-eye view of the penguins or watch the wondrous herd of Asian elephants bathe and chomp on their lunch with our live animal cams.’
44. Ditch the screens and introduce them to audiobooks
If you want to keep the kids (and yourself!) as far away from screens as possible, get them listening to an audiobook while they play.
Amazon’s Audible recently made a selection of its kid’s audiobooks free. The only catch is that they’re only available with a monthly subscription.
45. Or give a Monday afternoon ‘Kids Yoga class’ a crack
Anne Monaghan, a yoga instructor based in Northern Ireland, is now offering kids yoga classes on her Facebook page.
The ‘Yoga for kids class’ takes place every Monday at 12:00 on Facebook live. You can follow along here.
46. Try a virtual music lesson (fancy instruments not required)
You know yer one Myleene Klass? Yes, from Hear’Say! Well, she’s a classically trained musician and she’s providing virtual music lessons for kids every Monday at 10:00.
Don’t worry if you haven’t a guitar or piano on hand – grab a pan and wooden spoon, or improvise with something else that’s laying around the house. Warning: your neighbours will likely hate you for this one!
47. Learn to draw cartoons with a seasoned cartoonist
The chances are you’ll have colouring pencils, pens or markers somewhere in the house. If so, the brilliant Steve Harpster from Harptoons Publishing is giving drawing classes on his YouTube channel.
The classes take place at 18:00 every day of the week and they’re aimed at teaching kids how to draw cartoons.
48. Brush up on maths with Carol Vorderman
Maths wiz and former Countdown star Carol Vorderman is stepping in as a virtual maths teacher to help kids learn while school’s out.
Kids can enrol in her free (usually paid) course, the ‘Maths Factor’, where they’ll be immersed in fun (hopefully) virtual classes.
49. Teach them how to bake
The Big London Bake team are sharing three bake-at-home classes every week on their Facebook page.
Each recipe is easy to follow and uses regular, everyday ingredients along with standard kitchen equipment.
50. Teach them the basics of computer science
From March 25th, Code.org is launching a brand new program called ‘Code Break‘. It’s a free, weekly stream where members of the Code team teach computer science and coding.
If your child has never tried coding before, don’t worry – the classes are designed for complete beginners!
51. Introduce them to a new language
The folks at Lingvist have opened up their student platforms so kids can start to learn a new language online for free.
Kids can tackle a new language via interactive games, tasks and challenges. There’s no time limit on classes, so students can take their time and work through the courses at their own pace.
52. Let them have a Houseparty with their mates
Houseparty isn’t just for adults – it can be used to let kids have a playdate with their pals. If you’re not familiar with the app, it lets groups of friends come together via a video call.
They can kick back and chat or play games like Trivia and Heads Up. The app works on a laptop, desktop, or any smart device.
53. Track sharks
I’ve spent way too much time on this website since I stumbled across it a couple of days back. If you visit this website, you can track sharks as they swim around the ocean.
The website is run by the folks at Marine Research Group OCEARCH. You can click on a shark (represented by little dots) and learn all about them.
Learn something new and worthwhile
Looking to bulk up your CV? Or, maybe the thought of whittling away so much time in an unproductive manner sends shivers down your spine.
If you fancy picking up a new skill, there’s no better time than now, especially considering that you’re going to be in the house anyway fluting about the place.
Below, you’ll find lessons on everything from cooking and code to music and much more!
54. Learn how to learn
This course offers an insight into the learning techniques that are leveraged by experts in literature, math, science and many other areas.
According to the course overview, you’ll ‘learn about how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates (“chunks”) information.’
55. Transform your cooking skills so they’re less, eh, shit
This is probably the only bit of self-improvement that I’m going to focus on over the next few weeks.
Why? Well, I can’t cook for shit, that’s why. There’s an absolute clatter of resources online for those of you looking to learn how to cook.
You could do a paid course with the likes of Udemy, or you could dive into the free (and pretty damn good!) resource from the BBC.
56. Learn a language for free
So, the chances are that it’ll be a while before you get to put this self-improvement into action, considering the travel bans, but there’s no harm in carving out some time to pick up the basics of a new language.
The DuoLingo app is arguably the best place online to learn a new language. It boasts 30 different languages to choose from and it’s completely free.
57. Learn photography for free
If you’re sick of using the camera on your phone to capture the world around you, but you’ve no more idea of how to use a professional camera, don’t fret.
With Photoshop, budding photographers can immerse themselves in visual and interactive photography lessons.
According to their website, ‘the heart of Photoskop is a library of interactive lessons embedded in an easy-to-use interactive camera player equipped with useful explanations, visual markers and directives, which will guide you through the learning process.’
58. Try your hand at a new craft
If you’re looking for ways to occupy yourself that don’t involve screens (or going outside) consider picking up a new craft.
You may have never considered learning knitting before now or jewellery making, but there’s no better time than the present to discover what you do and don’t like. Here’s a load of different craft ideas to choose from.
59. Learn the guitar for free
I’ve been talking about wanting to learn the guitar for years. I borrowed a very expensive one, once, and it sat beneath my bed for months…
If you’ve more dedication than me, you can take free virtual guitar classes with the folks at Fender.
They’re now offering three months of free guitar lessons for those of you that fancy awakening your inner rock star.
60. Learn how to code
There’s no end to the number of free resources online for learning how to code. You could try ‘Learn to Code’ with Codeacademy or you could dip into an intro to HTML and CSS by Udacity.
In the latter, you’ll learn the fundamentals of web development, along with coding best practices and problem-solving systems and techniques.
And that’s a wrap! Have any tips or advice for avoiding cabin fever? Let me know in the comments below!
Sunday 29th of March 2020
This is such a great list! You're a superhero! Love your website for its regular doses of inspiration for travelling around Ireland and bow this. Thanks so much. Have bookmarked for future reference. You've got me thinking about learning to play (virtual) piano....or maybe Italian.... or perhaps finally learn how to make macaroons.....
Saturday 28th of March 2020
Free books, audio books, comics and audio books at all Irish libraries