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10 new hobbies to kill boredom in self-quarantine

By Jen Paolini 27 March 2020

It’s day four of self-quarantine. Netflix has been your constant companion through these trying times but now, the idea of starting yet another show leaves you feeling weary. Your right thumb is sore from the endless scrolling through Instagram. You’ve already seen all the memes. Your social media feeds are exhausted and people just aren’t creating quality content fast enough to feed your insatiable boredom, you lament. Sound familiar? Well, it doesn’t have to be your reality.

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Whether you’re currently serving out your mandatory quarantine sentence, self-isolating for social distancing purposes, or feeling too anxious and afraid to mingle among the masses, there is still plenty to be done from the confines of your own home. Look at it as an opportunity to tick off some boxes you’ve been holding onto for years and find a hobby you wouldn’t have tried otherwise. Who knows—you could emerge from this with impressive new skills and life-changing interests!


Up your cooking skills

Self-isolating on your own or with a partner? Lucky you. That means you can use all the facilities within your home unobstructed, but it also means you’re going to have to fend for yourself when it comes to sustenance. Instead of piling up the bin with takeaway boxes from Deliveroo and Foodpanda, you could use this opportunity to finally, finally give that brand-new skillet a chance to prove itself on the stove.

Ask a friend or family member to drop off some groceries for you (left outside of your door, of course) or order them to be delivered online and tie that apron on—it’s time to get cooking! And you won’t be doing it alone, either: With Michelin-starred chefs like Massimo Bottura hosting cooking tutorials on Instagram as part of his video series Kitchen Quarantine, there’s no reason not to tune in during the IGTV live stream and pick up a few new recipes and tips and tricks. He also answers questions that viewers have on cooking techniques, ingredients, and more. And if you’re quarantined with your boo, we’re sure of these easy recipes will impress.


Become an art connoisseur

Being stuck at home does not equal to being uncultured. In fact, you can take in more art than ever from the uber-comfortable position of your armchair. Museums and galleries around the world have opened up their collections to netizens, and they are free to view! With over 2,500 world-class museums and galleries to choose from on Google Arts & Culture, you can afford to be picky when it comes to virtual tours and online collections. Take in art, sculptures, and artefacts through visual collages, audio introductions, online exhibitions, Google Map museum views, and more. What’s not to like about globetrotting while in self-isolation and losing yourself in the intricacies of a Van Gogh without the heaving throngs?


Read those books on your back-burner

“I can’t seem to find the time to read!” Well, you’re out of excuses now. Time to dive into the wealth of books on your ever-growing to-read list, one title at a time. If you are the lucky owner of an e-reader like Kindle or Kobo, then a vast library of reads is already available to you at a cost. However, if you’re looking to get lost in literature without the price tag, you’ll be pleased to know that The Internet Archive in San Francisco opened the National Emergency Library, a digital collection of 1.4 million books, which anyone, anywhere in the world, can check books out of—for free. Load them onto your e-reader or read them directly on your phone if you like.

If you’ve run out of volumes to read (impressive!) and need new ideas, here is a list of the best new releases to get you started, as well as a collection of fiction and non-fiction books set in Hong Kong.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇


Become a green thumb

That low-maintenance succulent of yours that you unceremoniously shoved into a corner of the room? It’s been clinging on for dear life over the past few months. Maybe now is the time to devote a little more attention to the plants around your house—or add a few more to really brighten up your living space and add a touch of nature to your home, since you’re spending so much more time in it.

There’s a whole host of resilient indoor house plants that truly require very little to survive, making them the perfect introduction for those who are new to plant nursing. There is so much room for error with these green babies and they are incredibly forgiving. Similarly, if you have been blessed with a bit of outdoor space, you can try your hand at balcony gardening to transform your urban home into a blooming garden. Plus, you can harvest and eat from it, too!

Need some inspiration on how to set up your indoor paradise? Given the restrictions of your self-quarantine, it isn’t recommended for you to step outside for first-hand inspiration, but you can explore marvellous gardens of the world right from your living room, including Claude Monet’s breathtaking garden in Giverny, France.


Brush up on your language skills

This should come in handy for when you are allowed back outside and travel bans eventually lift. We’re sure Duo the owl hasn’t seen you log on in quite some time now, so why not pay him a visit and knock down a few rounds of language learning? Considering that the four most popular Netflix titles in Hong Kong right now are Korean productions (and Korean-made films are creating waves around the world), it probably wouldn’t hurt to combine entertainment with language learning. Plus, getting just that tiny bit better at Korean means you could try to watch your fifth rerun of Crash Landing on You without subtitles. Now that would be an accomplishment to brag about!


Get that quarantine six-pack

With a majority of gyms temporarily closed across the city, and you now stuck at home, there’s really been no better time to take fitness matters into your own hands. You don’t need a gym for these full at-home workouts, and the routines are made easier through video tutorials that you can follow along with. Or let Gen Z teach you a move or two with the best dances currently making the rounds on TikTok.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇


Get really, really good at games

Take this precious time to improve your winning skills so you stand uncontested at your next board game night. If you are fortunate enough to be holed up with a partner, dust off the board games or see if you have any of these old-school Hong Kong childhood toys and games stashed away inside your home.

Similarly, if you are blessed with a video game console and a robust internet connection, you could while away the hours by organising an online gaming party with your friends. Join in on the global phenomenon that is Animal Crossing: New Horizons and take field trips to your friends’ islands, or get everyone on board with these multiplayer games. You could also tackle the best games inspired by and set in Hong Kong for a friendly reminder of what’s outside your doors. And barring that, hey, there’s always mobile games on your phone.

Alternatively, the games you choose to focus on don’t have to involve other people at all. You could direct your energy towards one of Lego’s many adult sets, like the Master Builder series that offers intricate models of Star Wars battleships and the New York City skyline, amongst many others. These sets come with thousands of pieces, so you’ll stay occupied for days in your quest to cobble them together.


Transform into Marie Kondo

You’re stuck at home with all of your stuff and frankly, the clutter is weighing on you more than ever before. It’s time to organise, organise, organise! This is the perfect opportunity to take stock of your belongings, rearrange the book and make-up collections, learn the Marie Kondo method for folding clothes, and tidy up your underwear drawers (and reunite your mismatched socks while you’re at it). After all, you’re not leaving the house for a while, so it’s vital to create a space that you can find joy in.

If you’ve got a sewing kit on hand, stop making excuses and fix up the threads you’ve shoved aside, the ones with troublesome holes or missing buttons. When else were you going to find time to do it, anyway?


Become one with wildlife

Sure, you can’t venture out to frolic in the rolling fields or pet some Sai Kung cows, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting up close and personal with everything that nature has to offer—virtually! Other than learning more about the abundant wildlife to be found in our own concrete jungle, there are nature documentaries aplenty on Netflix to feed your curiosity about just what it is that animals do.

And since you’ve got many, many hours to fill, you might as well pull up the many animal cam live streams around the world and have them playing in the background throughout the day to catch sea otter feeding time, zone out to a zen feed of otherworldly jellyfish floating in their tanks, see what’s going on on the other side of the world in an African watering hole (we’ve got eyes on a heron-like bird traipsing about at the time of writing), and loll about with grey seals in Estonia.


Keep up with your learning

Schools are on an indefinite hiatus and Zoom conferences are taking over the world (and probably one of the few companies making bank on the stock market right now). The future of learning has arrived and you might as well keep up with it—albeit in much more fun ways than dialling into an hour-long lecture.

We love listening to hours’ worth of episodes from our favourite podcasts to keep our brains engaged and equip ourselves with a wealth of knowledge on niche topics. Whether you’re into true crime, news and politics, or pop culture, there is no shortage of content on the planet of podcasts. Seriously, Apple Podcasts alone features more than 500,000 active podcasts, including content in more than 100 languages, and the number is only growing by the day.

One show that we are super addicted to right now is ClassicFM’s award-winning crime podcast, Case Notes. Combining the intrigues of true crime with the paradisical world of classic music, strap yourself in for a podcast unlike any you have ever heard before. Where else can you learn the truth behind when Mozart wrote his requiem and died before finishing it and the steps that investigators take to solve the disappearance of a musical instrument? Fascinating!

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Jen Paolini

Content director

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Germany, and educated in the U.S., Jen is an award-winning creative with a background in illustration, communication design, art direction, and content creation. When she’s not getting lost in a good book, you’ll find her doing crosswords, eating dim sum, covering all sides of a “Hamilton” number, and taking naps.