ShortList is now ad free and supported by you, the users. When you buy through the links on our site we may earn a commission. Learn more

11 things to keep you happy during self-isolation

Finding the silver linings in the situation we are all in.

11 things to keep you happy during self-isolation
22 March 2020

Even for the most optimistic of us, the world is looking pretty gloomy at the moment.

And whilst we can't underestimate the very real stresses that many people are facing, there are a few silver linings that might help you keep going in the face of ongoing anxiety.

From free yoga classes and self-care apps to learning new skills and looking out for others, here's our pick of some of the best things you can do to make yourself (and your loved ones) smile over the next few weeks and months

11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

1. Learn something new

Click here for all courses

With courses on literature, politics, business, healthcare, computer science and absolutely everything inbetween, FutureLearn has plenty of short courses to keep you occupied.

You can take lessons written by academics and experts from the NHS, British Council, hundreds of top universities and more.

7
0
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

2. Catch up on your reading list

Check out all our book selections here

Reading is a great way to spend your time – distracting and engrossing, it's also much more calming than constantly checking the news or your social media feeds.

Need some inspiration? Try one of our lists:

3
0
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

3. Have a movie night

See the playlist here

There are dozens of streaming platforms out there, many of which you're probably signed up to: Netflix is the obvious one, but Disney+ is also just about to launch and will have plenty of brilliant films and TV shows and there's NOW TV as well.

But if you don't fancy paying for any new services, there are actually lots of free to watch (and legal!) films that have now passed into the public domain. A quick Google will bring up exhaustive lists of such films, but the YouTube channel above is a good place to start, hosting dozens of classic public domain films.

3
0
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

4. Free yoga classes

If you're stuck at home, you might not be able to get to the gym or run your usual jogging route. But that doesn't mean you can't exercise at all. There are loads of brilliant free yoga classes available online: Yoga with Adriene is a great (and rightly popular) option, and many yoga teachers are now streaming yoga classes live.

If yoga isn't your speed, the Nike Training Club app has plenty of exercises for you to do from home.

2
0
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

5. Get cooking

With extra time on your hands, why not get into cooking? There are tonnes of techniques and recipes out there for you to try, and plenty of guides to help you pull them off. Bon Appetit is currently running a guide to basic baking, which you can find here, and has also collated a great list of 70 pantry-staple dinners here.

We've also got some suggestions: see our best vegan cookbooks list here and best budget cookbooks here.

2
0
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

6. Discover the world of podcasting

Podcasting is all the rage – and it's easy to see why. From murder mysteries to comedy and more, there's something to pique your interest no matter what you're into.

To make things easier, here's our pick of:

2
0
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

7. Game on

Gaming fan? Spending time at home is a great time to catch up with all the releases you've missed. Yes, it's less "productive" than learning something new or working on side projects, but at the moment we probably all need a break from constant hustle and achievement – and what better way to do that than by escaping into a game?

Here's our pick of:

2
0
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

8. Community mutual aid groups

Find out more here

At a time like this, it's easy to feel totally helpless – and, with self-isolation, it can be alienating too.

To combat this, and to help the more vulnerable members of our communities who can't leave their homes, mutual aid groups have been set up across the UK. This pair people who are able to leave the house with those who can't, helping them access food, medication and moral support.

To find a group in your area, see the link above.

1
0
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

9. Get colouring

Browse Amazon here

Adult colouring books were a huge trend a few years ago – and whilst their novelty may have dissipated somewhat, they're still an excellent to engage in some calming, mindful or grounding leisure time.

There's also a lot of variety – Amazon currently has colouring books based on tattoo designs, fashion houses, animals, the jungle, and swear words, so you're sure to find something you like. We particularly like this Kew Gardens flower book.

1
0
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

10. Brilliant board games

See our picks here

Alright, so having a big board game party right now probably isn't the best idea. But if you're in isolation with your family, getting into some new board games could be a great way of passing the time and making sure you stay connected.

We put together some of the best board games out there earlier this year – click the link above to see our picks.

1
1
Thanks for voting
11 things to make you smile during self-isolation

11. Learn the art of mixology

Just to be clear, we are NOT suggesting you spend all your time in self-isolation raiding the booze cabinet: you should always, always drink responsibly.

But there's nothing wrong with wanting to perk up your day with a fancy cocktail. The Guardian has this guide on learning to make your own drinks, and we have some of our own suggestions when it comes to ingredients:

And if you want to stay off the booze, we've got you covered too:

1
1
Thanks for voting