Coronavirus lockdown: How to make the most of your extra time at home

If there is a silver lining to social distancing, it’s that we will all have a lot more free time on our hands. Here’s what to do with it.

Since coronavirus made its presence felt in Australia, life has changed pretty dramatically.

Many people are working from home, public events have been cancelled and containment measures have seen places including gyms, cafes and restaurants closing their doors.

Places where we socialise and activities we spend time doing are no longer an option, so many Australians are at home with time on their hands.

While the effects of coronavirus are far-reaching and devastating, how can we best use our extra free time?

“We haven’t been through these times before, so it’s OK if you feel anxious. Many of us are undergoing changes like working from home and not going out but things can be managed,” says Dr Tim Sharp, founder of The Happiness Institute.

“So much of life is based around achievement and we feel we should always be doing something constructive.

“But having more time can be an opportunity to do things we have always been too busy to do. We’ve all wished we had more time to do this and that – now we have that time.”

Reconnect with loved ones and friends

“Ask parents months ago and they would have said they would love more time to spend with their children. Now they have that,” says Tim.

Spend quality time with your kids or partner, whether it’s reading, playing, going for a walk or even watching TV together.

Pick up the phone to call friends and family you can’t physically be near – or try a video call via services including FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype or Zoom.

family board games

Turn back the clock

Find those old-style board and card games gathering dust. Bring back family games evenings, do a puzzle or try your hand at arts and crafts.

“Write, paint and be creative,” says Tim.

Work on your fitness

How often do you avoid going for a walk or run because you didn’t have time? Use the newfound spare time to exercise – it is good for your body and mind.

“If you can’t go to the gym, exercise at home. Try yoga and pilates using free resources online and learn mindfulness and meditation,” says Tim.

Tidy up and declutter

“We all have a place filled with junk so clean the pantry, garage or that spare room. Do the housekeeping and maintenance around home,” says Tim.

“Focus on what you can control because it gives you a sense of accomplishment and achievement.”

It may also be really good time to spring-clean your house, even if you do one room every few days.

Top up your talents

Maybe you’ve always wanted to try your hand at crochet, play guitar, or speak a new language.

The good news is that there are plenty of online tutorials that will help you learn all manner of new skills.

Scour YouTube or check out your app store to get started on your next hobby.

“Go online and take advantage of free classes to learn something new,” says Tim.

what to do at home

Get your finances in order

If sorting out your superannuation, drawing up a family budget or looking for a better insurance or energy deal are tasks that always seem to fall to the bottom of your to-do list, this is their time to shine.

Block out a couple of hours to research and get yourself set up for the months and years ahead.

Do something enjoyable every day

Have a dance or karaoke session in your lounge room, read a favourite book or catch up on a Netflix series.

“Limit how much news you expose yourself to and look at the positive stories, too,” says Tim.

“Get comfortable with slowing down and enjoying time to focus on real priorities.”

Written by Sarah Marinos.