The Journal started the Weekender section several months ago now as a way to give readers a head’s up about what events were happening that weekend.

Now, with the coronavirus outbreak, things have changed, so this is going to be the last Weekender section for a while. But we promise we’ll be back — hopefully promoting a party in the streets in which we can all sing and dance and hug each other. In the meantime, I am a verified homebody so I figured I could offer some tips on what to do while you’re stuck inside your house for the next few weeks or months.

Get those projects done that you’ve been putting off for a while.

For me, that’s mostly painting projects. Last week, I finally got around to repainting a bookshelf I had messed up painting last year. As it turns out, you have to totally sand those things to get the paint to stick — not just the areas that look like they need sanding. But you know what? That’s part of the fun. We’re all going to have a lot more time on our hands in the near future, so we have time to fumble around a little bit while we figure it out.

Other good projects include cleaning out the shed, or closet or even just your overwhelming junk drawer. You could spend a day doing all the little things you’ve been putting off (you know — those projects that will only take five minutes but you can’t quite bring yourself to do them). The possibilities are really endless here.

Get back into reading.

I know a lot of people who used to be really big readers before life got in the way and it felt like there was no longer time for that particular hobby. Well, now is the time to get back into reading or — if you’re anything like me — a time to delve into my huge pile of books I’ve owned for a while but haven’t read yet.

If you are an avid reader, use this as a time to get into a new genre and expand your horizons. I’m not much for apocalypse books — especially now — but I recently enjoyed “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. It hits maybe a little too close to home (a virus comes out of nowhere and kills the vast majority of the world’s population) but it’s surprisingly optimistic and might give you hope in these scary times.

If you don’t have access to a lot of books at home, the New York Public Library is offering free access to 300,000 ebooks via an app. Find out more here:

Start a garden.

If you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to kill plants. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Planting and maintaining a garden is one of the most fulfilling activities I’ve discovered in recent years, and I’d highly recommend it. If you live in a place that doesn’t have space for a big garden, try planting some things in pots instead.

Consider getting a pet.

As someone who was home a lot even before this outbreak, let me tell you that pets make the situation a lot less weird, especially if you live alone. You can talk to them, cuddle with them, take them on walks when you need a break. Especially if you’ve been considering getting a puppy, now is a great time since you’ll more than likely be home more than usual.

I haven’t heard about any issues yet at our local shelter, but animal shelters across the country are running into problems because of shortened hours and less money coming in. If you could take a dog or a cat off their hands, it’d likely be greatly appreciated.

Watch out for your mental health.

I’m lucky enough to have a nice patio on which to hang, but even if you don’t, it’s important to get some sunshine every day, so be sure to sit on your stoop for a bit or take a walk around your neighborhood. Open up some windows at the very least.

In addition to sunshine, you should be doing other things to maintain a good state of mental health. Social distancing doesn’t mean you should stop talking to your friends. Try to use FaceTime more often. Keep in touch with the people you love.

If you can coordinate with your neighbors, try having a “happy hour” in which you all sit in your own yards or driveways and yell to your neighbors so that you maintain proper distance between each other. This is actually a thing people some places in the country are doing, and it seems pretty cool.

I’m terrible at following this advice, but you should try to get some exercise every day. There are lots of resources online for at-home workouts. If you like yoga, I’m partial to Yoga With Adriene, which can be found on YouTube.

Other random activities.

There are so many things you could be doing with all your newfound at-home time. Learn to be a better cook. Start a new video game. Teach your dog a new trick. Start a new hobby. Listen to more podcasts. The possibilities are really endless.

The important thing is to keep an open mind about it and don’t let yourself become overwhelmed. Also, here’s my biggest pro-tip: Try not to camp out in front of the TV too much. In my experience, that’s the activity that is most likely to make me feel useless and unproductive.

Here’s hoping we all come out the other side of this having been super productive. Maybe we’ll have even learned something new.

Have some other ideas to keep yourself entertained while isolating yourself from others? Feel free to reach out to me at the email listed below.

Danae Lenz is the Idaho State Journal’s business editor, and she also puts together the Weekender section. She can be reached at