Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and several other areas woke up to the smell of deja vu this morning with the start of a second strict lockdown otherwise known as the Movement Control Order, or MCO. This means that nobody is allowed to attend gatherings, dine out, go out with the whole family, or travel beyond 10 kilometers from their homes.
It was the same kind of lockdown that was first imposed on the country last year in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, except that the situation has worsened with thousands of new cases each day. Last year’s March lockdown didn’t end as scheduled either and had dragged until June, giving people ample time to bake sourdough bread, pick up gardening or other new pastimes. If you’ve abandoned those hobbies or didn’t get to do some of the things you wished, here’s a chance to pick up where you left off.
The Coconuts team has put together a list of 25 things to help you get started. We even packed in extra things for you to do just in case the lockdown gets extended.
1. Grow plants you can eat
You may have picked up a plant or two to freshen up your home decor during the previous lockdown. Why not up the ante with plants you can actually eat? Long beans, brinjals, and lemongrass are just some of the things you can grow at home in this tropical climate. They could even save you a trip to the market.
2. Write down your thoughts
If you haven’t had the time to evaluate your life or everything that happened to you in 2020, now’s the time to start. Journaling is a great way to put down your thoughts without judging yourself and help you chart your next steps in life when the lockdown blows over.
3. Start gaming
2020 was a huge year for gaming, with Fortnite, Animal Crossing, Minecraft, and Call of Duty among the most tweeted games of the year. There’s nothing much we can say about this hobby except that it sure is a fun way to pass the time. A little mental escape won’t hurt too.
4. Speak to a friend a day
Being locked down on your own sucks. If you live alone, be sure to call up a friend or loved one each day to keep yourself socially connected. You could even go through your contacts on Instagram, pick someone you haven’t spoken to in ages, and slide into their DMs.
5. Redecorate the home
If you’re going to face the four walls of your home for the next 336 hours, might as well make it a beautiful place to be in or add more personal touches to your space. Put up some posters, find a new lamp, change the cushions, or add a doormat. Small changes can sometimes make a big difference to the whole look of your home.
6. Reorganize your things
We’re all hoarders one way or another. Now that you’ve got some free time, take the chance to go through your stuff and get rid of the things you don’t want or need. Reorganize your clutter and slap on some handwritten labels so you can easily find them the next time.
7. Clean out your kitchen cabinets
Kitchen cabinets take up so much space and yet tend to get overlooked. Don’t let the dust gather in your cabinets any longer or hidden insects from expanding their colony by taking the time to clean them out.
8. Plan your finances
The pandemic placed so many of us under financial stress when it triggered salary cuts and retrenchments across various industries, depleting our savings and forcing us to rethink the way we’ve been spending our money. With no end in sight to the economic downturn, it’s probably time to think over your financial security during the lockdown. Reading up on such topics or calling a financial advisor could be a great place to start.
9. Pick a fitness challenge
Locking ourselves up in our homes doesn’t mean we can’t stop moving. Keep yourself on your feet while you’re at home and don’t sit for too long or stay in bed for days no matter how tempting that sounds. Pick a mini fitness challenge to stay motivated, like doing push-ups or sit-ups every morning, carry some weights, or get a set of resistance bands and start working it.
10. Learn meditation
Is there a silver lining to all this? When will COVID-19 end? When can we live normally again? If these questions went through your mind lately, you’re not alone. It’s a mentally trying time for so many of us right now, which is why it is important to look after our minds. Meditation is one of the things you can do. New Netflix show Headspace Guide to Meditation could help get you started.
11. Stream concerts online
Concerts are not entirely dead during the pandemic. Online site Songkick has been listing upcoming virtual concerts to catch from all over the world.
12. Try new recipes
Whether it’s cooking or baking that you’re into, the lockdown is a good time to try new recipes. 2020 was a big year for cookbooks with so many people preparing their meals at home. Some titles you might want to check out include A Good Bake by Melissa Weller, Coconut and Sambal by Lara Lee, and Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz.
13. Try new crafts
Tired of knitting, sewing, or scrapbooking? New trendy crafts have emerged during the pandemic that you might want to try, such as beadwork, punch needling, or even pottery.
14. Jigsaw puzzles
Completing a jigsaw puzzle is one of the most time-consuming activities to do, which makes it perfect for the lockdown. Bring the family together or spend some me-time pouring over thousands of jigsaw pieces until you form the final picture.
15. Adult coloring books
Add color into your life again – literally – with coloring books. This therapeutic activity helps to put your mind and anxieties at ease while giving you beautiful artwork at the end of the day.
16. Catch up on podcasts
More podcast shows came up in 2020 as more international celebrities bank on the growing platform to get their names out there. Among those to catch up on is Staying In With Emily and Kumail, RuPaul: What’s the Tee? With Michelle Visage, and Pretty Big Deal with Ashley Graham.
17. Read Malaysian authors
Start reading again! Malaysian authors who recently released new books include Hanna Alkaf with The Weight of Our Sky, Yangsze Choo with The Night Tiger, and YZ Chin with Though I Get Home.
18. Make your own clothes
Pick up slow fashion by learning to make your own clothes. There are heaps of YouTube videos out there that can teach you how to knit or sew all sorts of things and unleash the hidden fashion designer in you. Maybe make a sweater or cardigan since the weather has been chilly lately.
19. Learn pole dancing
Install a dancing pole in your house and learn pole dancing. Videos of simple moves are available on Instagram and YouTube. You don’t have to be great at it. As long as you can hang on for even a few seconds, you’re good to go.
20. Join TikTok
It’s never too late to try and claw your way into TikTok stardom. There is always room for new content on the platform, which we all know is starting to show a lot of the same things, like that Malaysian re-enactment of Hogwarts.
21. Build lego models
Build an entire Star Wars empire or a Hogwarts castle, brick by brick, with Lego. It takes about two weeks to build one 20,000 piece Lego model if you use up all your spare time during the lockdown.
22. At home-spa
Is self-care still a thing? Of course, it is. Buy some candles, essential oils, face masks, nail polish, and pamper yourself so you can feel pretty, even in the midst of a lockdown.
23. Catch-up on K-drama
Didn’t have time to catch up on your K-drama addiction? Then start today. Some magical, fascinating shows we recommend include Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, Tale of the Nine Tailed, and Memories of the Alhambra starring South Korean heartthrobs like Gong Yoo, Lee Dong-wook and Hyun Bin.
24. Complete an online course
One of the major things the pandemic has taught us is that our skills could be redundant overnight. There are always new courses to take online via platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, General Assembly, or Masterclass. Learn to be a writer, a data analyst, and more from the comfort of your home.
25. Memorize a song
Ever loved a song so much but could never sing to it properly? Then it’s time to be a proper music fan and memorize those lyrics. Learn to sing your favorite songs properly and sing your heart out at home.
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This article, Lockdown 2.0 starts today for Kuala Lumpur and several states. Here are 25 things you can do to stay busy, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.