Self Care in Difficult Times Through Free Online Learning

A list of free online learning resources to help occupy worried minds during the Coronavirus shutdown

Anyone who makes a living from the hospitality industry is likely feeling anxious and uncertain at the moment. A great many bar industry folk are worried about making rent and putting food on the table, and will have doubtless spent the past week thinking about little else.

In a situation like this it is very easy for the mind to become overwhelmed with anxious thoughts which, over a protracted period of time, can lead to mental health problems. It is important to try and plan some ‘time off’ from worrying, especially during moments when that worry or mental energy can’t be directed towards finding a solution to your problem.

For example, it’s very constructive to spend the day looking for jobs, making plans, and applying for financial assistance. However at 9pm, when there’s little that can practically be done to change things, constantly thinking about the situation, or obsessively reading the news or related social media posts, can become destructive. This detrimental effect is compounded when normal stress outlets such as socialising, going to the gym, or anything that costs money, are suddenly off the table.

Learning something new is a very effective way of giving the mind some ‘stress downtime’. Not only does the mind become occupied with absorbing the new information – and thus unable to worry about paying the rent – there is also a deeper feeling of achievement or fulfilment that comes with learning new things. It is a mental health double-whammy, for want of a better term (plus, after two weeks of self-isolation you will have watched everything on Netflix).

To that end, we have compiled a list of some free non booze-related online learning and education resources, to hopefully help provide some diversion and stress relief during this difficult, but temporary, period for the bar industry.

Free eBooks

Your local library has a catalogue of ebooks and emagazines that are completely free to borrow. Different libraries use different delivery platforms, but in each case it is as simple as registering with the library, and then downloading the app. Registration is free, and you can find your local library here:
Local Library Finder

Project Gutenberg has a collection of over 60,000 titles available to read as Kindle or ePub books. You’ll find a lot of classic literature here, along with old, out of copyright works – great for drinks history geeks. Project Gutenberg is completely free to use.
Project Gutenberg

Free Documentaries

Documentary Heaven is a curated collection of documentaries, categorised by subject. The site contains hundreds of titles, and is completely free to use.
Documentary Heaven

Free Courses

edX is a portal that contains online courses from US universities such as MIT, Berkley, and Harvard. These are the actual courses that residential students learn, but offered here as video and text lessons, all completely free. There is some mind boggling stuff to be found, especially for those interested in science and technology.

Code Academy contains beginner to intermediate coding lessons. If you have an eye on a bar industry escape route, or would just like to learn to code as a hobby, you can do so here, for free.
Code Academy

FutureLearn are another provider of online courses, both short and to degree level. Short courses are free, but there is an option to pay for a premium service and receive access to the course after it has finished, along with a certificate. A huge range of subjects are available, and the courses have been developed in partnership with top universities.

If you think you have a book in you, and would like to learn how to get it out of you, TCK Publishing have compiled a list of the best free creative writing courses currently available. You can find the list here:
TCK Publishing course list

Duolingo offers free language learning courses, that, if the internet is to be believed, are very goo­d. Can’t speak personally to this one, but the reviews are very positive, so if you’ve always fancied learning one of the romance languages, you can do so here, for free.

Music and Music Learning

Ableton Synthesis is a brilliant browser-based tool for learning how synthesizers work, and how to play them. It’s easy to lose a couple of hours making crazy sounds here, which is both fun and cathartic if you have musical leanings.
Ableton Synthesis

Audacity is a free Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that will run on Mac or PC. There are a ton of tutorials on Youtube, so if you’ve ever felt the urge to have a go at making electronic music, download Audacity and start learning how.
Download Audacity

Bandcamp is a music store for independent artists. There is a huge amount of music here, which can be streamed for free. And, should you like something and decide to buy it, the money goes directly to the artist, which is great as jobbing musicians are going through similarly tough times as bartenders right now.

Free MS Office Alternative

If you need to create a new CV or any other business-y document, but don’t have MS Office, LibreOffice offers a completely free, open source alternative. Runs on Mac or PC, and produces files that are compatible with MS Office documents.
Download LibreOffice

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