9 ideas to keep you busy during long lockdown evenings

Looking for new ways to beat the boredom of long lockdown evenings? You’re certainly not alone. While we’re spending more time at home, it’s only natural that many of us might be feeling lost and bored in the evenings – ultimately wishing the clock would tick by that little bit quicker. While the positive news is that daylight hours are beginning to draw out, now is as good a time as any to bring some extra enjoyment to your evenings, so that they can become something you look forward to, rather than dread.

From writing and reading, through to cooking and online learning, here are 9 ideas to help you make the most of your evenings.

1. Dedicate more time to cooking

Taking the time to cook up healthy, delicious meals can be highly rewarding whether you’re cooking for yourself or others. Prior to lockdown, when we were on the move more, many of us found evening meal prep to be a chore. But being at home more has opened up new opportunities to get creative and adventurous in the kitchen, and to plan and prepare evening meals. For some, this might mean rekindling an old passion for cooking, while for others it could mean picking up a new skill entirely. Both are equally exciting.

Even if cooking isn’t your strong point and you find the kitchen daunting, then why not get your hands on a step-by-step recipe book? You’ll soon be cooking up masterpieces. For some inspiration on where to start, you might want to take a look at our article; 17 recipe books to satisfy your culinary curiosity.

Alternatively, if baking is more your thing, or if you’d like to start your journey in the kitchen elsewhere, then why not try your hand at making some of these tasty hot drinks, or giving some of these healthy baking ideas a go? Spiced chai lattes and skinny pineapple cheesecake bars are a couple of our favourites!

Additionally, if you’re hoping to try out new recipes, but also stay savvy with your money, you could opt for recipe books dedicated to cooking on a budget, such as those from the Eat Well for Less collection, available here on Amazon.

2. Try stargazing

During the winter months, it can be hard to spend time outside in the evenings because it’s often too cold and rainy. For some people this can heighten feelings of cabin fever, especially at the moment, as lockdown restrictions are keeping many of us at home during the day too. If you’re seeking to connect with the outside world and take a break from your indoor activities, then stargazing could be a great option.

You don’t need to be an astronomer to appreciate the night sky, but as you’ll find in our article An introduction to stargazing, even gaining just a little insight can make the experience all the more satisfying. Starting with the very basics of stargazing, the article assumes no prior knowledge, so don’t worry if you’re a total beginner. There’s also no need to travel far, as you can get started from your bedroom window, garden or local park.

Stargazing is rewarding and exciting because there’s always more to learn, and what you can see changes from month-to-month. It could just be an every-so-often hobby you pick up, or it might spark a deeper interest that you’d like to delve into further. And conveniently, equipment like binoculars and telescopes are not compulsory because so much observing can be done with the naked eye alone. If you’re interested in giving stargazing a go this month, you might like to read our article; Stargazing: What to look out for in February. Here you’ll find which moon phases, stars, and planets you might be able to spot this month and when, as well as the fascinating mythology and background surrounding them.

If you’re interested in astronomy or would like to find out more, you could also connect with like minded individuals over on the Rest Less community forum.

3. Start a new film or TV series, and review it

These days we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to television viewing, and long evenings make for a great time to get started on a new thought-provoking film or TV series. Getting hooked on a new series will add excitement and anticipation to your evenings as you look forward to the next episode each day.

If you’ve got Netflix or would be interested in signing up for a monthly fee, then the Radio times have made some of their top recommendations here. Or if you want to see what’s coming up on Netflix this February, then it’s worth checking out this Radio Times guide instead. If you like period dramas you could try the recently raved about series Bridgerton, or perhaps The Crown, which is based on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for a crime series to keep you on the edge of your seat, you might consider series like Line of Duty, The Bodyguard, or an updated classic like Sherlock, for your next viewing. Of course, these are just a few suggestions among many options.

Both BBC and ITV have also supplied a range of new (and old) series to enjoy on demand for free. Most modern TVs will give you access to BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub, otherwise you can watch from your smartphone, laptop, or desktop PC. You could see what you think of popular drama series like The Serpent and Killing Eve on BBC iPlayer, or The Pembrokeshire Murders on ITV Hub, which has also received great reviews. Alternatively, you could choose to wind down with a light comedy like Not Going Out or Fleabag on BBC iPlayer, or enjoy maybe rewatching some of your favourite soaps like Emmerdale or Coronation Street on ITV Hub. Both sites allow you to filter movies and TV by category, so you should be able to find something that takes your fancy.

Once you’ve finished watching a film or TV series, consider taking the time to review what you’ve watched in writing; by reflecting on what you thought of it, and listing your favourite and least favourite parts. Taking the time to review a film or TV series can be a great way to identify which genres you enjoy most, which might help to inform your future TV choices. It can also give you the opportunity to consider new perspectives, and explore your values and beliefs.

If you want to take a more interactive approach to reviewing film and TV, and compare your reviews with others, then you could get friends and family involved, or join the discussion on the film, TV and radio section of the Rest Less community forum.

4. Spend time writing letters to people

Writing letters is a lovely way to keep in touch with friends and family. While it may seem much easier these days to just send a text or email, receiving a letter is sure to brighten anyone’s day. Handwritten letters suggest that a certain level of effort and care has been taken by someone to communicate – bringing with it the message that ‘I was thinking of you’.

Writing letters naturally takes longer than sending an email or text, and can therefore be a great and wholesome way to fill your evening time. You could also consider getting creative and adding an artistic flair to your letters by giving calligraphy a go. Although an ancient practice, calligraphy is still immensely popular today, and can be both relaxing and rewarding. If you’d like to get started, consider checking out our article An introduction to calligraphy.

5. Consider making exercise an evening habit

If you’ve been feeling a bit low or uninspired during the evenings recently, then exercise could be a great way to get those happy hormones flowing. While working and moving your body might not be the first thing you feel like doing on a cold winter’s night, chances are, you’ll feel much better for it afterwards. Studies have shown a direct link between exercise and improved mental health. For example, Mind, the mental health charity, listed various benefits from exercise including improved mood, better sleep quality, and reduced stress and anxiety.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean a powering through an intense workout that you can’t wait to be over; ideally, it should be something that you enjoy and look forward to. From yoga and pilates to weight training, through to Zumba and boxing-inspired workouts, there’s something out there to suit everyone, and each form of exercise brings its own unique benefits. Getting into an exercise routine will also help to add structure to your day, helping you feel more in control of your life – which is particularly important in the current climate.

The other great thing about exercising – especially on cold, dark evenings – is that there are plenty of ways to stay fit from the comfort of your own home. Consider reading up on our tips for staying fit at home to find out more about some of the most effective ways to do this, including trying an online exercise class, or incorporating fitness into your chores. You can also find a variety of free online exercise classes to try during lockdown in our article here.

YouTube is another great platform for finding a range of home workouts. Check out the beginner’s home workout below for some further inspiration.

6. Get stuck into a good book

Is there anything better than snuggling up under a blanket with a good book while the cold winds and rain bluster outside? If it’s been a while since you picked up a good book, then you could make February the month to create a reading list, and start working your way through it. Reading can be a great form of escapism, which, let’s face it, is something that we probably all seek at times these days – plus, there’s an endless variety of books available.

Reading brings many benefits and can also be a great option for those wanting a break from screen time. In fact, this study highlighted just how important taking time to yourself away from a screen can be, noting the negative effect that too much screen time can have on sleep patterns. To find out more about screen fatigue and how to cut down your screen time, check out our article here.

If you need some inspiration for what to start reading first, then hopefully something might catch your eye in our articles; 16 crime and mystery books that you won’t be able to put down or 27 of the best must-read novels. Or perhaps you might like to look through 15 inspiring self-development books, or 20 of the best history books for something more specific. For further recommendations and discussions, you might also be interested in joining the Rest Less Book Club.

7. Learn a new skill or enroll on an online learning course

Community forum - Learning

Long evenings offer the perfect opportunity to pick up a new skill and engage in learning from the comfort of your own home. By adding purposeful activities to your evening, you’ll be contributing to your own personal development and growth – which really, in the midst of a global pandemic, is an amazing achievement.

Whether you’d like to enroll on a course to help improve your performance at work, or to gain knowledge for your own personal pleasure and home life, there are so many options available. From painting and drawing, to learning a language or musical instrument, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re interested in enrolling on an online course, we hope you might find some inspiration in our article 16 interesting online courses. Here you’ll find a range of free and paid courses from different providers covering everything from diet and nutrition, counselling, animal care, to caring for the elderly. Or why not check out our learning section, where you can browse the full range of courses available through our website?

8. Explore your creativity with some arts and crafts

If you’ve got a creative streak, then arts and crafts might be of interest to you. Having your own project to work on can be an enjoyable and productive way to fill your evenings. Creating something with your own hands can be very rewarding, and is something that you can take great pride in. You might also look forward to sharing your new creations with your friends and family once we move out of lockdown.

For some inspiration on where to start, hopefully you might find something that catches your eye in our articles; 8 interesting craft ideas to try at home or 9 creative skills that you can learn from home. From crochet to origami, through to take on a miniature project, there’s something for everyone.

9. Write down short and long-term future goals

While we cannot control some of the bigger events going on around us at the moment, what we can do is try to remain as positive and motivated as possible. A good way to do this is by setting goals for the future, both short and long-term. The pandemic might feel never-ending at the moment, but we can take comfort in the knowledge that the restrictions are not permanent, and that there will be much to look forward to once we move past them.

Perhaps you could list down what you’re most excited to do when restrictions are lifted, or creative a five or ten year plan for yourself, to look towards a brighter day. Formulating and visualising future plans in your head can give your mind something positive to focus on, and help you to feel more hopeful about the future. Research also shows that visualization can be a powerful tool in accomplishing your dreams. With dedicated time and effort, it is said to significantly impact your subconscious mind; laying a strong foundation for you to envision and accomplish your goals.

Another way to bring some positivity and affirmation to your evenings is to set mini goals for yourself. If you were to do this on a weekly basis for example, you could spend Sunday evenings listing what you’d like to achieve that week; for example to go on a long walk, catch up with a friend, or read an entire book. Then the following week, you could spend the evening ticking off your goals and recognising your achievements, both big and small. Not only will this fill some time, it will likely make you feel a sense of accomplishment as well.

To complement this routine, you might like to purchase a goal setting journal to help you stay on track. There are plenty available here at Amazon as well as other brands such as this one by Papier. Alternatively, you might like to create an inspiring vision board, which can be an effective way to help explore and envision your goals.

Final thoughts...

Though it might feel like time is dragging on, keeping busy with enjoyable and purposeful activities can be a great way to add a dose of positivity to your evenings.

It’s natural not to feel quite like yourself at the moment, as these are difficult times for everyone. Try to remember not to ask too much of yourself right now – even taking small steps to look after yourself mentally and physically, can make a big difference.

Do you have any additional ideas for ways to spend lockdown evenings? Are you planning to try any of the ideas above? Join the conversation over on the community forum, or leave a comment below.

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