Coronavirus: Your 12-step guide to passing the time in quarantine

From advice to activities and entertainment, these articles should aid your social distancing

Social distancing is vital to preventing the spread of coronavirus amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also, as people across Ireland and the world are finding out, a quick way to run out of things to do. Here, we've collected some of the best health advice, lists of activities and entertainment guides published across These tips can keep you going for a while and help you stay informed.

1. Protect yourself

Personal hygiene is vital to stemming the spread of coronavirus. As we've been told repeatedly: regular and proper handwashing and safe sneezing practices (into your elbow) are vital to contain the spread and protect the most vulnerable in our communities. But as Waterford-born virologist Ultan Power points out, though we may be observant of maintaining our distance from people in public, we can often let our guard down in our own homes.

It is important to wash your hands immediately when you come into your home and keep contact with others to a minimum – that includes avoiding hugging and kissing. Frequently-touched objects and surfaces should be disinfected regularly – that means keeping countertops, door knobs, keyboards, baths, toilets, sinks and other shared spaces clean. And don't forget your phone.

2. Managing stress

Covid-19 has likely flooded your timeline and most news media you consume for a while now. That is probably going to remain the case for some time to come. During this period, it's vital to manage the stress the crisis could potentially cause. While a certain amount of anxiety is a normal response to a threat, there are steps that can be taken to make sure it's under check: Prof Ciarán O'Boyle details eight such steps here, including: staying informed, but not consuming too much information; connecting with loved ones, and maintaining a sense of hope.


Similarly, in this piece, psychologist Niamh Delmar gives 16 tips for alleviating the emotional impact of the crisis and maintaining a clear head.

3. Deep clean your house

What better excuse? The HSE has tips on its website about best practices for cleaning (a search for "clean" will throw up plenty of information). As mentioned above, keeping well-used surfaces disinfected is paramount. The HSE website points out that many products available in supermarkets can kill coronavirus on surfaces – it recommends first cleaning the surface as usual, then using the disinfectant product. If you need more direction, Sandra O'Connell has these 11 tips for deep-cleaning your house. Sandra covers everything from the kit you'll need, to how often you should be washing the floors (daily, ideally).

4. Home improvement

Staying in might also provide you with the perfect time to take control of your home. If you aren't sure where to start, check out these DIY tips from Laura de Barra's new book, Gaff Goddess.

5. Stay active

It's likely that your normal exercise routine has been scuppered – but it's still important to stay active. Gyms are closing across the country and most organised sports are coming to a halt, but fresh air is still recommended, as long as you aren't congregating with lots of other people. Your options may be limited, but there's plenty you can do: a round of golf, for instance, is currently considered low-risk. If you're a swimmer and your pool is shut, you can still give open-sea swimming a try (it's cold at the moment, but a quick dip won't hurt). Click here for more suggestions from Irish Times sports journalist Ruaidhrí Croke.

6. Walking

With schools and colleges suspended, many public facilities closed and lots of people working from home, you might be itching to get outdoors.

A great way to relieve this is by heading outdoors for a bracing walk. These family-friendly walks take place on undemanding circuits that will suit even the most reluctant rambler.

Remember: despite being outdoors, you should still observe the advised social distancing measures. HSE guidelines recommend people keep a distance of 2m (6.5ft) between themselves and others; this is the case both indoors and outdoors.

7. Home-schooling

With schools across the State shut for weeks, many parents are finding themselves plunged into trying to home-school their children.

Ideally, teachers will provide lessons, whether online or on paper, to help meet children’s academic needs. However, supporting your children to learn at home – while also juggling work and other commitments – can be daunting.

Irish Times Education Editor Carl O'Brien spoke to experts in home-schooling and teaching to find out some of the dos and don'ts of how to best support your child over the coming weeks. See here for a Q&A on home-schooling and a run-through of some popular online support tools.

8. Netflix

Invariably, the amount of time spent watching films and TV shows indoors is going to skyrocket in households. There's plenty on Netflix at the moment to help pass the time: take a look at our list of the 101 best films to watch right now on the streaming service. You can also read breakdowns of the best shows and films to check out for this month and last month.

However, you might also be looking for a break from screens. Understandable. Maybe consider breaking out a board game. Tanya Sweeney's list of eight brilliant board games would be a good place to start. It's guaranteed family fun and/or a terrible argument. What's not to like?

9. Music and podcasts

Fed up with Netflix? Listen to music. Our reviewers might help you pick between the latest releases.

The Irish Times produces several podcasts each week, among them: Inside Politics; World View; The Women's Podcast; Inside Business; Added Time, and The Irish Times Book Club. You can access them all here.

The Irish Times also now produces a podcast covering Ireland's response to the Covid-19 outbreak – Confronting Coronavirus. It's published every weekday and you can find the latest episodes here.

If you're still trying to spend time outdoors, and have the garden for it, Fionnuala Fallon recently shared her top 10 favourite gardening podcasts – for that, click here.

10. Get reading

An obvious one, perhaps. If you need guidance, here is a list of the best books of last year, as chosen by Irish Times critics. You can take a look through the latest reviews from our critics here.

11. Get cooking

If you're looking for recipes to try while you're spending extra time indoors, start with the chickpea stew that broke the internet. For something more straightforward, you could give one of these five chicken dinner recipes a try, or attempt the perfect boxty.

Perhaps baking is more your thing. These recipes by Vanessa Greenwood could be just the ticket: Irish whiskey cake; crème brûlée with orange and cardamom; apple and pecan muffins; honey and mascarpone sponge roll, or these classic chocolate brownies.

For more recipes, click here. Fed up with cooking? Here is a list of 77 Irish restaurants now offering delivery and collection.

12. (Virtual) socialising

Just because you can’t gather in close quarters with your friends doesn’t mean you can’t socialise (virtually, at least).

You may have spotted #CovideoParty on Twitter this week. The idea is simple. The trend's creator, Waterford comedian Alison Spittle, makes a Twitter poll and asks people to choose between four Netflix movies. A winner is determined and the #CovideoParty community watches the film that night at the same time. Users tweet along while watching.

"I came up with it because I was bored out of my mind, and some gigs that I had planned were understandably cancelled because of coronavirus," Spittle told Róisín Ingle for a recent piece on

To get involved see #CovideoParty on Twitter.