From learning first aid to painting portraits of your pets and learning how to grow plants in small spaces – there are plenty of different skills you can learn from home.
With the lockdown extended by another three weeks, many of us will be looking for new ways to keep our minds busy and more importantly, find a sense of purpose.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to keep you going whilst you’re at home, then consider learning one of these 12 skills.
1. Learn to cook or bake
Whether you’re new to cooking/baking and want to learn the basics, or you simply want to work on perfecting and developing your skills; it’s worth considering how you can use time at home to do this. Having skills in the kitchen can help you to expand your mind, save money and eat more of the food you love! Some people also say that cooking gives them a greater sense of control over what they’re putting into their body – which during a period of uncertainty can be especially comforting. And although we’re unable to go out and do a lot of the things that we usually do, we can still attempt to make mealtimes as enjoyable as possible by creating some great tasting dishes.
From blueberry muffins to huevos rancheros, through to chicken pot pie – there’s always a new recipe that you can use to learn or develop some new skills!
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, then Jamie Oliver is offering free cooking classes to the nation, weekdays at 5.30pm on Channel 4, where he will show you how to get creative with items you may already have in your cupboards and/or freezer. It’s also worth checking out some of the free live classes being offered on social media at the moment. These include:
Bread Ahead Bakery and School, Instagram
Classes at this Borough Market baking school are usually sold out, but during the lockdown you can learn how to make baked delights like bagels, brownies and shortbread during a live Instagram class everyday at 2pm.
Massimo Bottura, Instagram
Master chef, Massimo Bottura owns a three-Michelin starred restaurant – Osteria Francescana – in Modena, Italy. He’s currently hosting a live ‘Kitchen Quarantine” series live from his kitchen every evening at 8pm, where he makes dishes like hummus, burgers and gelato!
Rude Health, Facebook
Every Friday at 5pm, staff from London-based cafe, Rude Health, are going live to show you how to make nutritious food and drink, such as veggie cashew curry, sauerkraut and oat milk.
Take an online cooking course
If you’d be interested in taking a paid cookery course which could help you to start or advance your career in catering when lockdown is over, then Leith’s (a world-renowned school of food and wine) offer a 24-week online training course, which will allow you to access expert teaching from the comfort of your own home. It covers everything from stewing and slow cooking, to making shortcrust pastry, through to stock making and knife skills.
The online course itself isn’t accredited, but you’ll be able to attend a practical two-day assessment in London when lockdown is over, which will give you full accreditation.
2. Learn to organise your home
When you’re spending more time at home, it can be helpful to declutter and organise your surroundings in a way that allows you to keep a clear mind and feel less overwhelmed. For example, if you can never find anything in your wardrobe and things fall out everytime you open it, then this can make you far more likely to avoid your wardrobe altogether. And before you know it, it’s 2pm and you’re still sitting in your pyjamas! The more organised we are, the less likely we’ll be to procrastinate.
Organising your living space can also help to pass the time and seeing the results of your work can help you to gain a real sense of satisfaction and achievement. Consider taking before and after photos of any particularly disorganised rooms or spaces, so you can see what you’ve achieved. We’d love to see them at [email protected].
If you’re looking for some cleaning and home organisation tips and inspiration, then consider trying the following influencers in the space:
Organising consultant, Marie Kondo has a great Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which shows people how to let go of the things they no longer need, so they can feel happier and freer. If you’re someone who tends to hoard or finds sentimental value in absolutely everything, then this could be a great show for you.
Sophie Hincliffe, also known as Mrs Hinch, became a social media sensation when she began sharing her innovative cleaning and organising tips on her Instagram page. Her tips are now used by “Mrs Hinchers” around the country, who say that they are now seeing cleaning in a whole new way. It’s worth checking out the Mrs Hinch Cleaning Tips group on Facebook, where over half a million people share cleaning tips and tricks inspired by Mrs Hinch herself.
Loose Woman, Stacey Soloman, has recently been recognised for sharing tips on how to organise and make the most of spaces at home. She offers demonstrations on her Instagram page on how to organise everything from batteries to pots and pans, through to the food in your fridge.
Take an online organising and decluttering course
You could also consider taking an organising or decluttering course online to develop your knowledge further and learn how to help others develop these skills. You may even decide that a career as a professional organiser or declutterer is for you!
Udemy offers a selection of organising and decluttering courses, including Tidy up Your Home: The KonMari Method, which is created by Marie Kondo herself. A series of lectures run by Marie and her assistants will show you a number of decluttering techniques which are applicable to many areas of life.
3. Improve your gardening skills
Since being stuck inside, you may have developed an even deeper appreciation for green space, or just greenery in general – because it can offer a lot of peace, especially during anxious times. Whether you have a garden or not, there are plenty of green skills that you can learn during lockdown to help you make the most of your living space. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to grow your own fruit and vegetables, nurture a bonsai tree or simply learn more about what’s growing in your garden.
Some of the main issues you may experience when trying to learn or develop garden skills during the lockdown, is getting hold of the equipment that you need to be able to do this or learning how to grow and maintain plants indoors, or in small spaces – such as on a balcony or outdoor window box.
Getting hold of what you need
Many DIY stores and garden centres are still delivering – especially some of the larger ones like Homebase, Wilko and B&Q. However, it’s worth noting that delivery times may be slightly longer than usual. It’s also worth making the most of what you might have in the house already, for example, using seeds from your supermarket bought peppers to grow your own, or using an old bucket or washing up bowl as a plant pot. Katie Elzar-Peters has written a great book called No Waste Kitchen Gardening (available on Amazon), which will show you how to regrow vegetable cut offs and scraps into harvestable, edible plants.
Growing in small spaces
You can still grow plants on balconies, window sills and patio spaces – so having a garden isn’t essential for developing a few horticultural skills. Vertical Veg’s website can show you how to grow plants in containers in small spaces.
Developing general gardening skills
If you’re looking to develop your general horticultural skills, for either your personal or professional development, then it’s worth starting with a reliable source – like the Royal Horticultural Society website. This is packed with advice on how to grow plants and maintain green spaces year-round.
Take an online gardening course
You could also consider taking a course such as New Skills Academy’s complete Gardening Diploma, which is CPD certified. You’ll learn about everything from garden design to plant planning and purchasing, through to soil nourishment and watering tips.
4. Learn office and IT skills
If you’ve been meaning to brush up on your Excel skills, set up a LinkedIn account or learn how to code, then now could be a great time to do it. The busy nature of our everyday lives can make it difficult to sit down and truly focus on learning new skills. This coupled with the fact that technology is constantly evolving may leave you feeling left behind – so why not use the lockdown time to catch up? If you’re in the market for a new job, then developing some office and IT skills could also give you some extra plus points to add to your CV.
Office productivity skills
If you’re looking to become more confident using office tools such as Word, Powerpoint or Excel, then Alison offers a selection of short free online courses that will help you do this.
Social media skills
Social media has a lot of personal benefits, such as helping you to stay connected with friends and family, but it also now plays a prominent role in business. There are plenty of courses that will show you how to use social media for marketing purposes – for example how to create a YouTube channel, become a social media influencer, or create a content strategy on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. We have a range of digital marketing courses listed on our website, here.
Coding and computer science
If you’re interested in getting to grips with coding or finding out more about computer science, then you could check out Khan Academy. It has a number of helpful free tutorials that will introduce you to everything from algorithms to debugging programmes and how to write clean code.
5. First aid training
First aid skills are some of the most valuable skills we can carry with us throughout life, but it’s surprising how few people have these skills. For many of us first aid is something that we’d love to know more about, but simply never get around to – unless we work in a field that requires it. But if you’ve got some spare time, then why not take a first aid course online? Health and safety is weighing heavily on everyone’s mind at the moment, and whilst classic first aid training may not help with the Coronavirus, having the right skills could help to save someone’s life one day.
If you want to become a qualified first aider, then you will need to undertake some practical training when the lockdown is lifted, but there’s nothing to stop you learning as much as you can in the meantime. The British Red Cross offer a number of free resources including videos and guides that can help you learn how to respond to different health emergencies including a person who is choking, not breathing and/or bleeding heavily.
Note: It’s important never to practice first aid skills like resuscitation on real people, as you could cause a lot of damage. You should wait to practice in a simulated environment on a practical training course at a later date.
6. Learn to dance
Are you happiest when you’re shaking your groove thing? Then why not think about taking a few lessons to develop your talent. Whilst there’s nothing like a good freestyle boogie to your favourite song, learning a few routines and learning about different styles of dance, can be a fun way to pass the time and keep both your body and brain active. According to Bupa’s calorie counter, you can burn over 400 calories an hour dancing. Physical activity also stimulates your brain to release endorphins (happy hormones), which are natural mood-boosters! Dancing which involves learning and practicing routines can also help to improve cognitive function and prevent mental decline.
Strictly Come Dancing professional Oti Mabuse and her husband Marius, are offering free dance lessons to the nation throughout the lockdown. Her classes – which include dances inspired by South Africa and Romania – are aired on her Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels each week. It’s best to check her social media accounts regularly to find out when they’ll be. All dances are saved to Oti’s pages, so that you can practice them in your own time at home.
Take an online dance course
You could also consider taking an online dance course that will break down different dance styles and techniques to give you a more in depth understanding. Udemy courses cover a great range of dance styles from belly dancing to salsa!
7. Learn how to cut your own hair and trim your beard
With the government’s social distancing guidelines in place, many of us who visit hairdressers or barbers for a regular trim or shape will be wondering how we can tidy up our tresses at home. These skills are very much try at your own risk, and shouldn’t be rushed if you want to give yourself the best chance at getting it right. But if you do get it right, you could save yourself some time and money long after the lockdown is over.
For men, London-based barbers Ruffians have posted a selection of videos on their YouTube and Instagram channels to take you through how to do everything from beard trimming, through to a full buzz cut. For men and women with longer hair, it can be helpful to watch a handful of different tutorials on YouTube before you attempt anything yourself. By watching a few different techniques from different people, you can better assess which method would work best for you, based on your general preferences and hair type.
You may also have someone that you live with who is in need or a beard trim or hair cut, so you could also consider learning these techniques to use on them – if they’ll let you of course!
Take an online hairdressing course
If you’d be interested in taking up hairdressing as a profession, then now could be a great time to develop your skills through an online course.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, then Hairdressing: The Complete Guide is a popular course offered by Of Course for anyone looking to start a hairdressing career. The 13-hour online course comprises over 600 lectures, split into 15 topics such as treating the skin, hair and scalp, hairdressing techniques, and health and safety.
8. Learn the skill of optimism
Many people are surprised by the suggestion that you can learn to be optimistic, as it’s often assumed that people are simply born that way. But the reality is that you can learn to be optimistic at any age, by practicing a few techniques. This includes things like recognising negative thoughts, keeping a gratitude journal and visualising a positive future.
At a time when there is much uncertainty surrounding the future, optimism can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety that are often caused by catastrophizing. Optimism has also been linked to better quality sleep, a decreased engagement in unhealthy behaviours and a greater social network.
If you’d be interested in finding out more about optimism and how to develop it, then we’ve written a guide that you may find useful.
Take an online course in optimism
It’s also worth checking out Udemy’s free optimism course which will show you how to identify whether you’re naturally optimistic or pessimistic by nature and learn how to avoid thoughts that may lead to anxiety and depression.
9. Learn a new language
There are multiple benefits of learning a new language, including keeping your brain sharp, having an excuse to travel and advancing your career. Many of us admire others who can speak a second, third or even fourth language, and wish that we could do the same – but with a little patience, determination and passion, you can. It’s important to choose a mode of learning that you enjoy, to increase your chances of seeing it through.
To avoid becoming overwhelmed, it can be helpful to start by using a programme like Duolingo, which you can download as an app, or access on the web. It offers a choice of 32 different languages, which you can learn using fun games and activities for just 5-10 minutes a day. The University of South Carolina and the City University of New York carried out an independent study, which showed that 34 hours of Duolingo (on average) is equivalent to a full semester of language education.
Or if you’d prefer to take a more structured approach to language-learning, then you could take a distance-learning course online. We have a selection of courses on site (some free) that you can browse, here. You can study in your own time, at your own pace and will usually receive a certificate upon completion.
To find out more about the benefit of learning a language and how to get started from home, you can have a read of our full guide here.
10. Learn to draw, paint, sew or something else creative!
If you have a creative streak, then at some point you may have thought about sitting down and developing a new creative talent. This could be drawing, painting, sewing, calligraphy, photography or something else entirely. Creative talents like these are great stress relievers because they offer escapism and can also help express how you’re feeling.
If you’re looking to explore your creative side, Skillshare can offer a helpful place to start. It offers a variety of free and paid classes, which are broken into bite size chunks – allowing you to take regular breaks and learn at your own pace. Whether you want to learn how to paint with watercolours, capture self-portraits on camera, or draw your pet – Skillshare has a wide range of creative learning opportunities available. You can enjoy all Skillshare courses free for the first two months (at the time of publishing), after which you will still have access to 500 free classes, with the option to pay for thousands of premium courses.
If you do decide to learn a new creative skill during lockdown, then we’d love to see your work. Please feel free to email paintings, photographs, poems or any other creative forms of expressions to [email protected].
11. Learn to meditate
There may be one or more skills in this list that you’d be interested in developing, but sometimes the biggest problem – especially at a time of uncertainty – can be quieting your mind enough to do them. In this situation, you could consider learning to meditate.
Mindfulness is one of the most popular meditation techniques that increases your awareness of the present moment through your senses. For example, focussing exclusively on what you can smell, touch or taste in any given moment. When we’re in the present moment, we aren’t able to focus on and worry about the past and future. So during mindful moments we tend to feel more peaceful. Our guide to mindfulness offers more information about the benefits of mindfulness, plus tips on how to get started.
You could also try downloading apps like Headspace or Calm. Both have hundreds of mindfulness exercises that you can do whilst you’re doing everyday activities like cooking and eating. They can help you to develop gratitude, improve your sleep and reduce stress and anxiety. Both can be tried free for a limited period of time after which there is a monthly or an annual fee. However, Calm has a number of free resources including gratitude journal templates and mindful living calendars.
12. Learn to play a musical instrument or develop your music skills
Music offers so many different things to so many different people. But one thing that most people will agree on is that when you’re lost in your favourite song and singing along in your car or in the shower – you probably won’t be thinking about much else, so it acts as a great distraction from anxious thoughts and can significantly lift your mood.
If you’ve got a musical instrument at home that you bought and have never got around to playing, then why not dust it off and learn a few chords? YouTube is a great place to find music tutorials from people of all sorts of ages and levels, who can break down the basics for you. Alternatively, if you don’t have an instrument like a keyboard or a guitar, then you could try getting creative with things around the house, like spoons. Or if you’re into singing, there are plenty of videos that you can use to improve your singing voice.
Just for fun - a few extra courses you could try
If none of the options above piqued your interest or if you’re looking for some extra skills you could learn, then why not try one of these…
- Dog Behaviour
- How to write your first song
- How to find your life purpose
- Living courageously
- Technical writing
- Learn to play the didgeridoo
If you have a course that you’d love to add to the list, then please email us at [email protected]!
Learning new skills can be a welcome distraction if you’re feeling bored, restless or anxious – but it’s best not to put too much pressure on yourself to master everything all in one go. When you’re thinking about learning a new skill, it can be helpful to start small and break your goals down into manageable chunks. Even starting with 1hr a day of learning can make all the difference to your self confidence and how you feel at the end of the day.
Are there any other skills that you’re learning at home? Or do you have any recommendations for great learning resources…. We’d love to hear from you at [email protected] or simply leave a comment below.