(These are just personal ideas and the charity is not affiliated to any of the companies mentioned.)
1. Puzzles and Quizzes – from tomorrow we shall be providing seven days of puzzles and quizzes to help you relieve the boredom of lockdown and keep the brain cells occupied. Each day there will be an easier puzzle, a harder problem, and a themed quiz. It’s just a bit of fun, so try not to peak online! The answers will appear the following day with the next set of questions. Look out for these on our website, with links on our social media channels.
2. Geoguessr – search for this online and you will find a variety of ways to explore the world without leaving your front door! Browse various maps and be transported to real locations where you can move around, zoom in, and attempt to work out where you are. Better still, it’s a game - when you are ready to guess, stick a pin in the map and score points depending on how close you are. It’s free to play, but if you would like to produce your own games for your friends and family there is a subscription available.
3. Mindfulness Apps – it is surely a worrying and stressful time for everyone, so take a few minutes each day to decompress and find some inner peace. Headspace is just one that is available, and it offers some free sessions, but there are also plenty of resources on YouTube.
4. Jigsaws – mindfulness but without the need to download an app. Find that old 1,000 piece jigsaw of an impossibly pretty mountain meadow at the back of the cupboard, stick it on the table, and watch as family members are strangely drawn to it.
5. Cooking – some of you may remember the BBC cookery programme Ready, Steady, Cook. Contestants would present star chefs with a bag of unusual ingredients bought for less than £5 and the challenge was to create the best plate of food in 20 minutes. The show was recently revived, but you can host your very own version to create wonderful dishes from the remnants of your fridge and food cupboard.
6. Photobooks – so often our photos lay dormant on our mobile phones and never see the light of day. Take this opportunity to bring them to life in photobooks, calendars, t-shirts, coffee mugs, cards and lots else besides. Many companies provide these services and there are some very good deals around at the moment. Whilst treating yourself, why not send a copy to a friend or relative who would appreciate smiling at some happy memories?
7. Printable crosswords – if you like your daily crossword but can no longer get to the shops to buy a newspaper, there are a variety available online. Some require a subscription but others, such as The Guardian, are free to play either electronically or on printable hard copy.
8. Polytopia – if you like turn-based, world-building strategy games then this one is an absolute gem. It’s simple enough that you can discover its rules just by playing a few games, but detailed enough that you will want to discover new options and master new technologies. It’s free to play against AI robots, and if you want to challenge friends you can buy your own tribe for as little £1. Search for it on the app stores and find out more information at https://polytopia.fandom.com/wiki/The_Battle_of_Polytopia_Wikia
9. Play chess by email or text – some prefer a slower pace to the immediacy of online gaming, and it is possible to play a game of chess remotely with just a friend, your own board, and a basic understanding of chess notation. Swapping a move each day will give you enough time to fully consider your position.
10. Phone someone – if email seems too slow and impersonal, but video conference calls seem too busy and confusing, why not call someone that you haven’t spoken to in a while? In these surreal and scary times, a reassuring voice can work wonders.