Hobbies and interests are a good way to keep your mind and body active and can help you to continue your recovery while you’re at home. Doing something you love or trying something new, for fun, relaxation or learning, can improve anxiety and help you to feel good.

Looking for ways to spend your time? Here are some things you could try! 

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Cooking

Ideas – try new recipes, bake, learn about healthy eating, practise your kitchen skills.

Starting points:

Running low on bread? – Try making your own. There are lots of simple recipes online, including alternatives if you don’t have yeast or bread flour.  

Cooking lessons from celebrity chefs – With their restaurants closed for the time being, lots of well-known chefs are hosting live cook-alongs on Instagram. Or creating new flexible recipes that you can adapt to whatever is in your cupboard. 

Read our top tips – on cooking after stroke in Stroke News magazine. 

Gardening

Ideas – create a windowsill garden, design a hanging basket, grow vegetables. 

Starting points:

Plant subscriptionsOnline retailers can deliver seeds, plants and equipment to your door. 

Adapting gardening to suit your needs – Read our top tips for gardening after stroke in Stroke News. Or visit Carry on Gardening for practical information on making garden jobs easier.

Learning

Ideas – research a subject you’d like to know more about, take a course. 

Starting points:

Challenge yourself to learn something new – Lots of education institutions offer free online courses, including the Open University, FutureLearn, and even American Ivy League universities.  

Listen to an educational podcast – From humorous history lessons to university lectures on mathematics, if you’d like to know more about it, there’s probably a podcast for it!

Make a virtual visit to a museum or gallery – Explore some of the world’s top archaeological and art collections, including the British Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

Music

Ideas – listen to music, sing, play an instrument, watch a concert online.

Starting points:

At-home concerts – Watch singers and musicians around the world put on concerts in their bedrooms and lounges. Even orchestras and choirs are managing to create unique online performances. 

Learn an instrument – Try one of the many free tutorials online for all instruments, ages and abilities, for example, these one-handed guitar lessons. If you don’t have an instrument, don’t let that stop you - there are apps that can enable you to play virtually instead, including the piano and violin.

Puzzles and games

Ideas – jigsaws, crosswords, sudoku, board games, computer games.

Starting points:

Play with others via video – Set up a games night with friends and family over video messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Zoom. Play a board game you all own, find classics such as Risk, Monopoly and Uno online, or keep it simple with games that just involve dice or cards. 

Apps to help with your recovery – Games, quizzes and puzzles can be a fun way to exercise your mind and continue your recovery. You can find lists of apps recommended for stroke survivors on My Stroke Guide and MyTherappy

Reading

Ideas – books, newspapers, magazines

Starting points:

Visit your local library online – Many libraries around the UK offer free e-book and e-audiobook services so you can carry on borrowing and enjoying books, newspapers and magazines.

Find a virtual book group – Reading groups all over the country, for example, the Reading Agency’s network of Reading Groups for Everyone are inviting people, no matter where they live, to join them online.

Listen to an audiobook – The audiobook service, Audible, has also made hundreds of children’s stories and literary classics from ‘Winnie the Pooh’ to ‘Frankenstein’ freely available to everyone for as long as schools are closed. 

Enjoy a Quick Read – If you find getting through a novel challenging since your stroke, try Quick Reads. They’re short, easy to read books for adults. The 2020 series includes titles by well-known authors such as Adam Kay, AA Dhand and Jojo Moyes. 

If you have sight difficulties – You can download audio and e-braille books, magazines, newspapers and music scores from RNIB’s Reading Service.

Sport and physical activity

Ideas – chair-based exercises, simple fitness routines, watch classic sporting events. 
If you have any physical problems due to a stroke, make sure you only do movements that are safe for you. You can hold on to the back of a chair for balance in standing activities.

Starting points:

Have a go at an online fitness class – There are lots of ways to exercise at home and multiple websites, social media videos and apps to choose from. If you’re not sure where to start, the NHS Fitness studio has a range of instructor-led exercise videos, from chair-based pilates workouts to more energetic aerobic routines. 

Dance in your living room – As well as showing free dance performances online, performing arts centre Sadler’s Wells, is also offering free dance workshops, including classes for over 60s. 

Missing live sport? – Watch classic matches, races and competitions on YouTube, listen to sports podcasts or watch a sport documentary instead, or try a virtual sport instead. 

Theatre and performance

Ideas – watch performances from around the world.

Starting points:

Plays in your living room – Theatres across the world, including the National Theatre and The Globe, are releasing free recordings of popular past performances. The online theatre company The Show Must Go Online is live-streaming Shakespeare’s plays on YouTube. 

A night in at the opera or the ballet – Experience free performances from the Royal Opera House and New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.  

Culture in Quarantine – The BBC are also hosting a “virtual festival of the arts” on their TV, radio and online stations.

Writing

Ideas – letters, stories or poetry.

Starting points:

Do you have friends and family who aren’t on the internet? – Write them a letter to keep in touch.  

Share poems, stories and experiences – You can share short stories and poetry, or just chat to others who’ve been affected by stroke on the forums on My Stroke Guide

Arts and crafts

Ideas – drawing, woodwork, origami, card making, model making, knitting, needlework. 

Starting points:

Learn online – You can find free online tutorials for almost every type of arts and crafts discipline on YouTube

Need design inspiration? – You can find thousands of free knitting, crocheting and weaving patterns for all skill levels on “fibre art” database Ravelry

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