Things to do in self-isolation or quarantine

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by Sarah Halfpenny

In these uncertain times of COVID-19, it’s important to maintain good mental health as we spend time alone or with our partner. Start by having a loose routine to your day – shower and get dressed in clean clothes, have a healthy breakfast, then dive into the list of suggested activities specially tailored for these strange days. Viewing it as a positive also helps – so much free time and new opportunities have been given to us, so let’s make the most of it and stay safe.

Remain active

  • go for a walk every day – challenge yourself to go down streets you haven’t been before and notice lots of little details, like what plants are in gardens, what animals are about and the architecture of the houses
  • dance to get your endorphins pumping – check out Boogie at Home – Free Live Online Dance Class on Facebook from the Born to Boogie Dance Connection
  • get busy in the garden while the weather is still good

Tidy up and get organised

 create a photo book using a website like Snapfish which is cheap and easy to use, or just organise your photos on your phone by deleting all the photos you don’t want

  • work on getting your taxes ready so you’ll be all set come 30 June
  • vacuum the car
  • meal plan for the coming weeks and make sure you have all the ingredients you need so you can minimise shopping trips
  • clear your inbox – your computer will thank you for it!
  • clean out the bathroom cupboard – get rid of expired medicines
  • rearrange your bookshelf and discover some books you want to re-read
  • tick some of those DIY fixes off your to-do list
  • make different music playlists for different occasions, e.g. exercise, lazy Sunday afternoons, party mix
  • do a deep clean of your house, one room at a time, including skirting boards and windows
  • clean out your wardrobe – check out what Marie Kondo suggests
  • plan your next holiday – the time will come when we can all travel again so make a list now of places you’d love to go

Learn a new skill

  • learn a new makeup trick – YouTube has a wealth of makeup tutorials like this one from Sona Gasparian
  • research someone or something you’ve always wanted to know more about but never had the time to
  • learn to cook with lessons from a master chef like the fabulous Italian Massimo Bottura – this is the chance of a lifetime for free!
  • teach yourself how to make a perfect cup of coffee at home
  • learn to play an instrument – for example check out Zebra Keys for piano lessons or Virtual Drumming for drums
  • learn a language for free on Duolingo or even sign language like Auslan

Arts and culture

  • Morning Melodies from the Arts Centre Melbourne will now be broadcast free online
  • take a virtual tour of current exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria including Haring/Basquiat and KAWS, both of which will be added soon
  • watch weekly movies every Tuesday at no cost, thanks to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
  • lose yourself in free opera with nightly streaming thanks to the MET Opera
  • free live-streamed concerts from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
  • watch over 300 free documentaries on IDFA
  • for something a little quirky, live stream Tim at MONA between the hours of 10am to 4:30pm daily (it’s kind of like the human equivalent of watching paint dry, but hey, who are we to judge!)

Get creative

  • sign up for a free account on Blogger and write a blog about your life or a topic that you’re knowledgeable about to share with the world
  • take it a step further and start your own vlog (video blog) with this guide to YouTube
  • look out for Couch Choir, the clever new COVID-19 adapted offering from Pub Choir, the communal singing event – more events to be added soon
  • write pen and paper letters to family and friends just like in the old days
  • take free art classes online

 Support local

  • order food from your local cafes and restaurants that have had to shut shop to dine-in customers – get it delivered instead
  • foster a pet or offer to walk the dogs at your local shelter


 play card games (Solitaire) or board games

  • meditate and do yoga
  • have a long hot soak in a bubble bath
  • open the bottle of wine you have been saving for a ‘special occasion’
  • create your own ‘day spa’ at home – have a facial, a manicure, and a pedicure
  • do online crosswords

 Socialise – apart!

  •  join a virtual book club
  • video chat with friends or family (Friday Night FaceTime drinks)
  • have a Netflix watch party with friends and family where you can all watch online from your homes and add a group chat
  • pop a note in your neighbours’ letterboxes to invite them to participate in ‘dinner at the end of your driveway’ on a specific day and time – set up your own little table and say cheers to them from across the street as you dine!

 Discover something new

  • listen to a different radio station – community radio can be great and often has special interest programs such as gardening, movies, cooking and science scheduled into specific timeslots each week with industry experts and guests
  • podcasts abound and can be listened to anywhere – some current favourites that can be found on the app store are Novel Therapy, Aussies in Hollywood and Judith Lucy – Overwhelmed & Dying

Read, read, read!

  • get an online magazine subscription or two – many of them are on sale at the moment
  • take on a challenge like the Dymocks Reading Challenge for your chance to discover great new books and win prizes
  • borrow digital books and audio books from your local library – check their website for details


  1. Are you insane?? ? This article suggests walking down streets you’ve never walked before, taking others dogs for a walk. Do you even know what self isolation or quarantine mean?

  2. Hi Jessie, there is nothing insane about it! In self isolation exercise, fresh air and sunshine (when available) are really important. Quarantine is different but there are other things here you could do then. Even in England where the isolation rules are stricter they are allowed outside to exercise and walk the dog daily. Maybe you are getting confused with a lockdown, in which case we should all stay indoors, which is not the case as yet.

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