stuff we buy ourselves

How Strategist Writers and Editors Are Staving Off Boredom Right Now

Photo: Print Collector/Getty Images

It’s been two weeks since the government advised that people stay home. And people are looking for ways to relax, de-stress, or kill time while our social lives are on hiatus. So, you might be in the market for some new pastimes. Thoughtfully, we’ve rounded up the new (and not so new) hobbies that Strategist UK staff are deploying to stay calm and not get overwhelmed, while we keep a low profile for the foreseeable future.

Ailbhe Malone, Strategist UK editor

Escape puzzle
£15
£15

About four years ago, I was gripped by a jigsaw-puzzle mania: I wanted a screen-free hobby, but didn’t care to take up crafting. So I stopped into Hamley’s after work one day and rummaged around their puzzle department, settling on a 500-piece print of Trafalgar Square. Since then, I’ve refined my tastes: I dislike art print puzzles, but love fantasy ones by German puzzle brand Ravensburger. One thousand pieces are my preferred size, and the more structured the scene the better (one of my favourites is of an ‘enchanted library’). I’ve dabbled in Escape Room Puzzles, but find the mystery takes away from the fun of completing the puzzle. Now that I’m at home a lot more, I’ve been going through my stash, redoing my favourites, and starting a couple of new ones I got for Christmas.

If you’re keen to take up puzzles, I highly recommend a puzzle mat: You puzzle directly onto a large piece of felt, which rolls up and around a cardboard tube when you’re done.

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I’ve been rewatching episodes of New Girl on Amazon Prime. They have every season, and it’s a lovely show to binge-watch: no peril, gentle laughter, and a loft apartment that’s bigger than my house.

An Instagram friend of mine (@LauradeBarra) is an illustrator, and has been hosting Instagram Live life-drawing classes every Sunday. I’m no artist, but I’ve really been enjoying playing around with paint, pencils, and charcoal while drawing different arrangements. My husband’s a graphic designer, so I use his stash of art supplies, but Laura encourages viewers to join in with even a Sharpie or a Biro.

Rosie Percy, Senior Manager, Audience Development

To stop myself simply scrolling on Instagram and rewatching Mad Men, I’m learning how to knit during the lockdown. The plethora of YouTube tutorials — I liked this one — means it’s pretty easy to teach yourself, but I’m practising with cheaper, chunky yarn until I’m confident enough to order a kit from Wool & the Gang (my colleague Mia swears by them to make her own sweaters).

From £13

Exercise classes are the only way I’ll reliably work out: Go it alone and I get distracted and struggle to focus. Without my regular four classes a week — and limited to what I could do outside — I found a great at-home alternative in Peloton’s digital classes. Their combination of strength, yoga, boot camp, and stretch classes offer the same variation I’d get at the gym, and the peppy instructors really do connect with you, even at home. I ordered a yoga mat and some dumbbells, but plenty of the classes can be done with just your body weight.

Chris Mandle, Writer

With trips to the supermarket being limited, I’m trying to use what I have in my fridge, freezer, and cupboards as resourcefully as possible. Last time I went to the supermarket, I couldn’t get any dried pasta, so it’s lucky I like making my own (honestly, it’s very easy). My cheap-and-cheerful pasta-maker is definitely on its last legs though, and I’m eyeing a slightly more sophisticated model, since it looks like we might be in this for the long haul.