FEELGOOD WAYS TO FEED YOUR SOUL

Give your health, brain and soul a boost with these anti-isolation activities.

Learn something new 
There are plenty of virtual classes you can take to ensure your time at home is a productive one. Skillshare is a great place to start as it offers a wide range of classes including photography, creative writing, animation, music and web development. There is a subscription fee, but new members get two months free. Duolingo is great for those wanting to pick up a new language. The free app offers more than 30 languages in bite-sized lessons. Meanwhile 190 universities just launched 600 free online courses including art and design, social sciences, humanities, business, health and tons more. To get your novel, memoir or poetry kickstarted and pick up lots of tips from fellow authors, join author Fiona Gibson’s Facebook group, The Write Place. And if you’ve decided now is the time to finally learn to play guitar, legendary manufacturers Fender are offering three months of free lessons here .

Online concerts
Stars such as Chris Martin, Yungblud, Erykah Badu, John Legend, Neil Young and Pink are performing impromptu live concerts online, mostly from their living rooms. Diplo has been dropping live DJ sets across the internet, Christine & The Queens is holding a nightly live session from her studio in France, and even Patti Smith has got in on the act. Some performing in bathrobes and track pants, under the hashtag #TogetherAt Home, with family members in attendance, they’re even taking requests. Check out their Instagram feeds to catch up on home concerts you’ve missed. If you want to catch an online concert or performance live, Billboard.com has compiled a lengthy list of recent and upcoming live-streamed concerts and events, featuring performances from the likes of Miley Cyrus, Garth Brooks, the Indigo Girls, Bono, Ben Platt, and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. And join the Rock The Lockdown Facebook group, who are ‘spreading the love through the joy of live music from amazing artists performing your very own front room festival’.

Audio joy
Audible has made hundreds of audiobooks available for free, including novels narrated by Thandie Newton and Dan Stevens. The mix of education, entertainment and general-interest titles available include Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (narrated by Newton), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (narrated by Stephens), The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle and many children’s titles from Winnie The Pooh to Peter Rabbit.

Thespian delights
If you’d love to finally get your head – and ears – round Shakespeare, Globe Player has paid-for recordings of many of the theatre’s Shakespeare adaptations spanning more than 10 years, including Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry in Twelfth Night; Jonathan Pryce as the Merchant of Venice; and Lucy Bailey’s bloodthirsty Titus Andronicus. You’ll pay roughly the same to rent as you usually would for the cheapest tickets in the house. Meanwhile Thursday night could become theatre night as the National Theatre will be broadcasting some of its most popular productions for free on Youtube during the lockdown. Kicking off at 7pm on 2nd April the new two-month National Theatre at Home programme will begin with One Man, Two Guvnors, the Richard Bean comedy starring James Corden. The films will then be available on demand for seven days.

Real and virtual walks
Getting some outdoor time is important for mental health, especially at a time when we’ve been told not go outside as much, and as long as we keep our distance from passersby it’s pretty safe to go for a walk, cycle or jog. If you’re looking for novel ways to spend time with elderly family members while practising social distancing, take them on a virtual walk, using FaceTime to share the sights and sounds of your surroundings.

It’s show time
Watch Broadway musicals online via the theatre-streaming service BroadwayHD, who are offering a free seven-day trial, after which it’s $8.99 a month. That means you can watch performances from Broadway, the West End, and other venues around the world to your heart’s content from your living room. Shows on offer include classics like Cats, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, and there are ballets, plays and other performances available too. Meanwhile The Wind in the Willows West End production is available to stream online for free here.

Retro kitchen disco
Love northern soul and indie pop? London Club Night called How Does It Feel are throwing virtual dance parties. Stock up on your favourite tipple, invite your friends to tune in at the same time and connect on FaceTime. Then push the furniture to the walls in your living room, turn up the volume, and join them in a virtual party. Go to howdoesitfeel.co.uk for a link to the next mix, or here’s a previous dance party mix.

Sing your heart out
British choirmaster, composer and TV presenter, Gareth Malone, has launched an ‘at home’ digital choir to boost the nation’s morale during coronavirus self-isolation. Singing is a natural anti-depressant that lowers stress levels and has multiple health and wellbeing benefits. Gareth’s home choir ‘The Great British Home Chorus’, has been designed to bring together both amateur and professional performers around the UK by encouraging them to sing with others online. Malone felt inspired to set up the choir in the UK after seeing the influx of videos shared by Italians under national quarantine – which has included a tenor performing opera and neighbours singing together during the Siena lockdown. Here’s where to sign up for Gareth’s home choir.

Online fitness
Staying fit and well during the next few weeks and months is essential for giving us the physical and mental strength to stay positive. The Body Coach Jo Wicks is starting PE With Joe on Monday 23rd at 9am on his YouTube channel, The Body Coach TV. Yogis from around the country are offering free daily online classes, go to doyogawithme.com for free online yoga at all different levels. Or calm your mind and tone your body with Barbara Currie’s Yoga Balances Or try one of these pilates podcasts. And to keep those anxious thoughts at bay, there’s a free guided mindfulness meditation led by meditation expert Deepak Chopra, here.

Take a virtual tour 
Visit some of the world’s top museums online. New York’s Guggenheim Museum allows people to tour some of its collection via Google Street View. Meanwhile Google Arts & Culture gives you access to collections at MoMA, the Van Gogh Museum, and The Met – just to name a few. Other museums such as the British Museum have a specific web page for its collection.

Piano concerts
From Monday March 23 London’s Theatre Cafe will start live-streaming concerts by West End stars. The Theatre Cafe and Lambert Jackson Productions have announced a festival of live-streamed concerts to keep actors working during theatre closures. Leave a Light On will be a series of paid piano concerts streamed live from the Theatre Cafe in London for a small fee. Further details and a full line-up are to be announced, but organisers have said the concerts will range from performers with an established following to those who have only just started their careers. Names include David Hunter (star of Waitress and Kinky Boots), Alice Fearn (star of Come From Away and Wicked) and Aimie Atkinson (star of Pretty Woman and Six).From March 23, three 45-minute concerts will take place each day, with the aim of providing financial support for the performers involved as well as entertainment for people in self-isolation. The link for the live-stream events will be announced soon, so check westendtheatre.com for updates.

BBC classics
The BBC is planning to bring back many favourite shows, on its channels and on BBC iPlayer. New boxsets going up shortly include Spooks, The Missing, Waking The Dead, French And Saunders, Wallander and The Honourable Woman, as well as more from BBC Three. On Radio 4 they’re digging into their drama archive with well-loved titles like The Complete Smiley, all of the novels by the Bronte Sisters, film noir classics by Raymond Chandler, and old faves Rumpole and Wodehouse. They will be also be sharing popular podcast dramas with a wider radio audience for the first time by broadcasting the award-winning Forest 404 and The Whisperer In Darkness and comedy-wise they will run classic editions of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and Just A Minute. There are also plans to run an essential arts and culture service – Culture in Quarantine – that will keep the Arts alive in people’s homes, across Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, Sounds, iPlayer and the digital platforms, working closely with organisations like Arts Council England. This will include guides to shuttered exhibitions, performances from world-class musicians and comedy clubs, new plays created especially for broadcast featuring exceptional talent, poetry and book readings.

Words: Marina Gask