The UK is in lockdown, with all but the country’s key workers confined to their homes. You might live alone and find yourself craving human contact, or with a houseful of children to entertain, trying to explain new concepts like ‘shielding’, ‘social distancing’, and ‘self-isolation’.

With current measures likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, you’ll be looking for ways for you and your household to stay entertained, whilst maintaining your physical and mental wellbeing.

Here are five ways to keep yourself (and your children) entertained during the coming weeks.

1. Turn to a good book

Sussex University researchers told the Telegraph back in 2009 that reading could reduce stress by as much as 68%.

Cognitive neuropsychologist David Lewis​ confirmed: “Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.”

Returning to 2020, and as the extent of the outbreak became clear The Guardian reported that booksellers in London were offering free delivery to customers in self-isolation. With more stringent measures now in place, you might have to rely on your own to-read pile, or else turn to digital downloads.

Whether you use Google Books, Amazon Kindle, or Kobo, a new book is only ever a click away.

Following the release of The Mirror and the Light, the long-awaited final part in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy, why not use your downtime to indulge in the rich historical fiction of this two-times Booker Prize-winning trilogy?

Follow the rise of Thomas Cromwell through the Tudor court over 1,700 tightly plotted pages.

If you’d like your reading to be a communal activity, visit Reading Groups for Everyone to find a reading group that suits you, plus advice for starting your own book club amongst family and friends. Pick a book and reconvene the next week over Skype or WhatsApp to discuss it.

If you’re looking for something more escapist, or you have youngsters to entertain, May 19th sees the release of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel to Suzanne Collins’ much-loved crossover trilogy, the Hunger Games.

Catch-up on the original trilogy and then read an excerpt from the new book here.

2. Keep active

With outside exercise limited to an hour a day, it’s important that you find ways to stay fit and healthy in your own home. Online video-streaming sites such as YouTube are filled with free workout videos.

Television fitness coach and presenter, Joe Wicks, has christened himself ‘the nation’s PE teacher,’ hosting free, 30-minute workouts for kids and their parents, daily.

And POPSUGAR has a library of no-equipment workout sessions from the high-intensity interval training, Tabata, to Pilates and yoga classes starting at a beginner level, right through to expert home workouts.

Dr Christopher Hand, lecturer in psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University, recently told Euronews that building a 'new normal' is key: "Although it might be tempting to have endless pyjama days, getting up, washing, having breakfast, building a time frame and schedule for the day is really, really crucial".

Giving yourself a daily workout slot will help maintain order in your day.

If you’re looking for exercise away from the television remember government guidelines. Exercise is restricted to one walk, run or cycle, for an hour a day, alone or with members of your household.

3. Reengage with an old hobby, or learn something new

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, now might be the perfect time to get on top of it. The Royal Horticultural Society includes amongst their top ten jobs for this month:

  • Weeding
  • Protecting fruit blossom from late frost
  • Tying in climbing and rambling roses
  • Increasing the water you give to houseplants
  • Sowing new lawns or repairing bare patches.

If gardening isn’t for you, maybe it’s time to drag the watercolours and easel down from the loft, or else a long-forgotten musical instrument.

Online courses abound that can help you reengage with an old passion time. Online courses can also be used to teach yourself something completely new – a new language for example. Try Rosetta Stone or Udemy for a wide range of courses.

If you are home-schooling or just need some educational material to keep a child entertained, try Twinkl. The online repository of resources for teachers and parents offers a multitude of free worksheets and plans for all ages and subjects.

4. Stream a film

Film streaming services are an increasingly large part of our lives, with massive online libraries of instantly streamable content. As well as comic book-based popcorn fare, all the big services – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video – also have a vast selection of documentaries, biopics, and fact-based thrillers.

On Amazon Prime Video try The Report. Starring Adam Driver, last seen playing Kylo Ren in the newest Star Wars trilogy. The film depicts an investigation into the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ program in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

For great portrayals of real-life figures, watch Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, battling to beat the Nazi’s Enigma code in the multi-award nominated The Imitation Game. Or try Darkest Hour, starring an unrecognisable Gary Oldman as Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

A Netflix subscription starts from £5.99 per month, whilst Amazon Prime Video comes as part of the Amazon Prime package – £79 per year, £7.99 per month or opt for a 30-day free trial.

If you have kids to entertain, try Disney+, their new streaming service. Starting at £5.99 per month, be sure to also make the most of the free seven-day trial.

5. Stay connected

The most important thing to do whilst in isolation is to remain in contact with the outside world.

Whatever platform you use – WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime – you can communicate with loved ones through technology so be sure to talk daily. If you’re not tech-savvy, Age UK has produced a guide to staying connected, whatever your age.

The internet is full of other great ways to stay connected and the current crisis has seen people band together – albeit virtually – in new and exciting ways:

  • Pub quizzes

Most often to be found running 45 pub quizzes in Scotland, Gooses Quizzes have moved online for the foreseeable future, offering daily pub quizzes and the chance to have themed or private quizzes in your home or business.

  • Museum tours

Museums and galleries have been taking to social media to offer virtual tours of their collections using the hashtag #museumfromhome. From the British Museum’s Egyptian Sculpture gallery to the Museum of Modern Art’s audio guides aimed specifically at kids, there’s plenty to explore.

  • Go on a bear hunt

Another activity to go viral since the coronavirus outbreak, this one takes its inspiration from Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

Take a walk around your town or village as part of your daily exercise and look out for teddy bears and rainbows in your neighbour’s windows, left there for children of all ages to enjoy whilst out walking.

Local communities are sharing rough guides and maps to the bears in their area, so plan your route and head out – being sure to heed social-distancing rules!