26 things to do to keep busy during coronavirus quarantine

Surviving coronavirus lockdown in France is going to be a challenge. Our daily reality is  changing massively and it will doubtless be a testing time for many.

We’ve put together 26 ways to keep busy and stay positive as you ride out this storm.

1. Browse our website and back copies of P-O Life

You’ll find lots to keep you busy on our site from interesting history to typical French and Catalan customs, weird and wonderful Did You Knows,  walks (to plan for the future),  Lest We Forget, bad jokes to test your french and make you smile,  language exercises, useful (and useless) info…… In addition, all the back copies of P-O Life are archived on the site and will provide hours and hours of fascinating and fun reading matter as well as exercises to…..

2. Perfect your French

It’s the ideal time to knuckle down to the nitty gritty of the French language. You could amaze your friends and neighbours when you emerge from this nightmare a whole new level of fluent! You’ll find some fun learning resources in the Language Learning section of our site including grammar games and quizzes. Duolingo is also a free online resource which many expats in France recommend.

3. Learn another language

If your French is already pretty fluent why not try your hand at Catalan or Spanish? Both are really useful if you live in the Pyrénées-Orientales and hop over the border (in freer times!). Learning languages is also brilliant for your brain.

4. Get your French nationality dossier in order

Many of us have not yet submitted our dossiers because it takes so darned long to get everything together. This downtime is a great opportunity to dig out the list of documents you need and make a plan of what you need to do to obtain them all. Check out the requirements (in French) here.

5. Organise your photos

If you’re anything like me you will have photos all over the place on your phone, your tablet, your laptop and that old hard drive at the back of the cupboard. Why not use this opportunity to cull any rubbish photos and get the ones worth keeping all organised into one place in neat and easily searchable folders?

6. Get out the board games

MonopolyIt’s easy to while away an afternoon playing classics such as Monopoly, Cluedo, Scrabble or backgammon and there are a whole host of new board games on the market – some of which have apps available online. For maximum topicality, why not give Pandemic a go? It’s available on Google Play.

7. Do some yoga

Nurture your body and calm your anxiety-ridden mind with some online yoga. There are gazillions of free classes on YouTube. One of the most popular channels is Yoga with Adriene. The quirky and immensely likeable Texan has routines to deal with everything from anxiety and self-doubt to dealing with anger and fostering focus and productivity. You can also join Kate on Skype for free thrice weekly Pilates classed. Skype her on katehareng if you want to be added to the group.

8. Meditate

Another great thing to do if you’re finding the current situation difficult to cope with. Meditation is a great way of dealing with anxiety issues, including those related to coronavirus. Again, YouTube is a great source of meditation inspiration or try popular apps, Calm or Headspace.

9. Get creative with your cooking

Try out all those recipes you never have the time to tackle and nourish your body with great food to keep you as healthy as possible. There are lots of boles de picolatrecipes on our site from Catalan classic boles de picolat to a simple but tasty Spanish tortilla.

10. Phone the loved ones you never normally speak to

We all connect so much via social media and messaging apps that we are losing the art of speaking to each other. Use your spare time to reconnect with friends by actually calling them and having a chat!

11. Read the books you’ve always meant to

Those classics are calling. Curl up with a good book that you wouldn’t normally have the time to tackle.

12. Do those DIY jobs you’ve been putting off

Hang those pictures which have been piled up in a corner, paint the skirting, fix that broken cupboard…. Your home will be incredible once all this is over

13. Get your garden in order

With spring  officially arriving this week now is the perfect time to sort out the garden: plant some herbs, sow some seeds, cut the grass, pull out the weeds and get some much-needed fresh air.

14. Try and keep to a routine

It might be tempting to sleep in or linger in bed scrolling through social media but it’s important for your mental health to keep a routine. Get up, get dressed, make a list for the day and get stuff done.

15. Set small goals for each day

Spring clean the kitchen cupboards, sort out your linen cupboard, streamline your wardrobe… I bet there are tons of jobs you have been putting off. Now is the perfect time to tackle them one by one which will give you at least one thing to feel good about each day.

16. Watch films

Lots of us will be very glad of our Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions. Why not watch a bit more mindfully though? Check out some films you might not usually watch or broaden your knowledge of film by choosing an actor or director and working through their entire filmography.

17. Get creative

KnittingCreating stuff is good for the soul. Draw, paint, crochet, knit, sew, whittle something out of wood, make a robot out of boxes, write a short story, start that novel…

18. Get your finances in order

It’s a worrying time for many, particularly the self employed, but it doesn’t make sense to stick your head in the sand. Take a good look at your financial situation and see if anything can be done to improve it. Call your bank/insurer and ask if you can delay payments, apply for any government aid that you might be entitled to, work out a budget to use the funds you have as wisely as possible.

19. Clear out your inbox

There are over 10,000 messages in mine! I’m going to have a huge deleting session, file any messages I want to keep and unsubscribe to old email lists. Why not do the same?

20. Do an online course

Now is a great time to develop some new skills. There are a whole host of online learning platforms offering a wealth of different courses and many of them are free. Take a look at Coursera, Khan Academy and EDX for starters. And if your children or grandchildren are going stir crazy, you might find something on Outschool to pique their interest. Courses aren’t free but they are affordable and topics are ridiculously varied with anything from Learning to Draw Japanese Animation and Solving the Rubik’s Cube to Astronomy and Life Skills for Kids.

21. Do your filing

Dull but necessary. Get it done. You’ll feel really good afterwards.

22. Look out for your neighbours

Now is a time for us all to pull together so if you’re going to the shops, ask if your elderly neighbours need anything and check in with them often to see if they’re coping ok. Don’t forget to maintain impeccable hygiene and keep your physical distance if you are delivering items to them.

23. Listen to podcasts

If you haven’t yet dipped a toe into the wonderful world of podcasts, you are in for a treat. Whatever you are interested in, there will be a podcast about it. I must confess, I haven’t strayed into the French versions, which I’m sure are brilliant too, but some incredible podcasts in English which you could try are Serial (three series each reinvestigating a crime), How I Built This (entrepreneurs talk about how they got where they are), Desert Island Discs (entire back catalogue of the popular and long-running Radio Four show), Don’t Tell Me the Score (lessons for life learnt from sport) and Feel Better, Live More (interviews by TV doctor Dr Rangan Chatterjee with inspiring people with useful advice for living a more balanced life – check out the one with John McAvoy)

24. Get a good night’s sleep

Everything seems worse when you’re tired. Even if you feel like you don’t have a lot to do in the daytime, it’s worth keeping to a regular sleep pattern, going to bed and getting up at reasonable times in order to maintain a sense of normality and stay positive.

25. Plan for when it’s all over

‘You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ never seemed more apt. Gain an appreciation for all the wonderful things we take for granted during normal life – like being able to travel around freely, buy pretty much anything we want whenever we want, eat dinner in a restaurant with friends or go to a brilliant concert or play. Spend some time thinking about all the amazing things you are going to do when all this is over and make sure that you never take life for granted again.

26. Be thankful

If you’re healthy and managing to keep the virus at bay, be grateful. Be grateful that this is not World War III – we are all fighting a common battle and hopefully this can bring us together. Be grateful that all those grounded flights and car journeys that we aren’t taking are giving our planet a much-needed breather. Be grateful for all those amazing doctors and nurses risking their lives caring for the sick and for the scientists and researchers working on a vaccine.

And remember, surviving coronavirus lockdown in France is hard but people have made it through much worse – we will get through this!

Please share any creative ideas you have which might inspire others and stave off the boredom and anxiety during this tricky time. Let’s add to the list!

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