What to do when you have nothing to do!


How to stay sane, occupied, and socially connected while physically distant?



A lockdown offers many people a completely new experience, a situation where our physical contact with the world is suspended. For those of us who are privileged enough to be at home with seemingly nothing new to do, the question of what to do with our time arises. Time we would otherwise dedicate to commuting to work, cultural experiences, eating out, and most of all, being with friends and family, is all unoccupied. In our current situation, when many people are feeling disconnected from their social support systems, or want to build new ones, what are some of the best options to stay connected and physically distant? A hug is out of the question if you live alone, but a virtual hug from a community might be the next best thing!

Entertainment and cultural experiences:

Live online sessions have become the norm across social media and organisational websites. There’s something for everyone! The Kalakshetra Foundation has been organising classical Indian music sessions on their Youtube channel since 6th April. Some of these live sessions are raising funds for COVID-19 related efforts, while others are focusing on fundraising for artists who have lost their livelihood. These organisations and independent artists regularly conduct live Q&A sessions, challenges, and more to try and promote cultural experiences and experiments at this time!

The HCL Concerts-Baithak have been organised for a period of 60 days, with 25 artists performing Indian classical music live on Facebook (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday) . From live online comedy (Stay Home for India), Instagram live musical concerts (Rolling Stone India, Together at Home-WHO and Global Citizen partnership), to Andrea Bocelli’s concert, to the Bolshoi Theatre’s broadcasts of several performances in the past month, it appears that there is more to experience online from various cultures than we could ever have in person! The Royal Opera House also shares wonderful videos. There are so many different kinds of performances to discover now. Find more classical music options here!

There are numerous world-famous museums which have opened virtual gallery tours now, apart from the diverse collections which were already on display on Google Arts and Culture! Check them out while on a call with your friends and experience the rooms while trading your thoughts.

Social media:

As a result of being homebound, an astounding number of creative challenges have happened to emerge across social media, from cooking, dancing, to drawing, and music. Apart from watching and interacting with everyone else, challenges have sprung up with ways to occupy time for anyone who is concerned their days are too monotonous!

Everyone is engaging more with the global community, and imaginations are brimming. Various creative endeavours have appeared on social media for practically everything. Recipe-sharing with limited items and tips for motivating yourself to stay at peace with meditation, yoga, or even rousing games of online charades or Antakshari are frequently in progress.

Online games:

Games where friends can play in private rooms while also talking on a call have become even more popular. Since playing with friends is off the table, there are games instead which encourage strangers to play a round of Pictionary, Scrabble or Ludo! “Scribbl.io, Sketchit, and Codenames seem to be pretty well-known,” says Purvil Jani, whose board game group has shifted online. Fortnite, Minecraft, RuneScape, and many more have experienced an inflow of players. There are plenty of options for every kind of platform, but try to join those with an emphasis on the cooperative aspect of the game!

Video calls:

Adopting and adapting video calling on various apps and channels has become routine for many people in the world now, and inventive uses of video calling are at the forefront. Zoom has a feature to share your screen and draw, some are adapting this for online Pictionary, while others are using the platform to learn, to celebrate birthdays, and even for online dates. Many platforms for conference calls are being used extensively to support work and recreation in a way that has not taken place on a global scale before. This does suggest we could continue with these accessible options as a way to promote the inclusion of those who might not be able to show up in person to various meetings, classes, or even celebratory events!

Covid Gyan has an online series of webinars dedicated to interactive engagement, the Sundowner Sessions. These sessions offer a space for a discussion of topics related to the lockdown, from work from home and life balance, to readings from books/poems, and most importantly some friendly conversations! The first session took place on April 16th from 6-7 PM 'Living Alone during the lockdown'. Many people shared their challenges and well-being related stories while living alone under the COVID19 lockdown.

Pen pals around the world:

For those who are avid explorers of other cultures, or who want to practise their foreign language skills, the option of a pen pal has been resurrected from the dead! Virtual pen pals are increasingly easier to find, with many platforms allowing international communication to thrive. From extensively using social media, people are talking to those they might never have otherwise met in their daily lives! After using the Tinder Passport option for free during April 2020, Rohit Singla said, “It was very interesting, this was my first experience talking to someone completely unknown, from a very different culture. And it also made me realise, they are not so different.” At this time in our history, recognising our shared experiences is more important than ever.

Pick whatever excites you, and try it out now! The option to go on a virtual live safari with your friends is open too! Maybe there is more time in the day for something new. If not, add in a live music concert to your exercise time, or practise cooking while on a video call with friends! Be inventive, or stick to the things you already love, whatever makes you feel most able to cope with this pandemic! To get more ideas, specifically for things you can do by yourself, check out this list!

Pavithra Ashok Kumar works in the Communications Office at the Bangalore Life Science Cluster, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India.