Between extreme weather and typical winter ailments, most of us are used to being confined indoors for short periods. We may even have welcomed the time we were housebound as a respite from the daily grind. But with the current Covid-19 pandemic, the stay-at-home measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus are unprecedented in recent memory.
However, practicing social distancing by sheltering in place doesn’t have to result in boredom or restlessness. There are a multitude of interesting and fun things you can do to keep your brain active, pass the time, and keep kids occupied, which can help you enjoy rather than dread your time at home.
In addition to no-brainers like movie-watching marathons, board-game tournaments, and chocolate-chip cookie baking, check out the following 7 suggestions to keep you engaged, motivated, and entertained during this episode.
1. Bring Back the Lost Art of Letter Writing.
Imagine the pleasure your grandmother or long-distance friend will get when they check their mailbox and find a real letter from a real person. Or, you could send thank you cards to your local frontline healthcare workers to let them know how much you appreciate their selfless efforts. Rather keep it online? Send uplifting emails or social media posts to all your friends and family with updates, positive messages, photos, and jokes.
2. Become a Culture Vulture.
With museums and concert halls around the world having had to close their doors, there’s never been a better time to listen to classical music concerts, watch an opera, or view world-famous art collections from the comfort and safety of your home—at no cost to you! From the Metropolitan opera in NYC to the Louvre, enjoy free performances or tours for events that typically would be unavailable for most of us.
3. Move Your Body!
The mental and physical benefits of exercise are well documented. And with sheltering in place, more important now than ever. Get fresh air and exercise by taking daily walks or runs around your neighborhood if you can do so without coming into close contact with other people. Or, take it inside. Organize a virtual dance party with friends by using one of the many free meeting options like Skype or Zoom. Or download a yoga or fitness app with curated workout playlists. Try to put a routine in place so you get into the habit of doing your workout every day.
4. Plan a Vacation.
While none of us can head to exotic locations right now, know that this too shall pass. By mapping out a trip, it can be something to look forward to. If you have young ones at home, this can also become a geography lesson. Whether your trip will become real in the future or stay virtual, let the kids choose a place they’d like to visit. Then have them figure out the itinerary including mode of transport, accommodations, and must-see attractions.
5. Learn a New Skill.
Young or old, short attention span or long, the opportunities here for homebound citizens are infinite. With the plethora of online courses or YouTube as your teacher, there are more skills to learn than days of sheltering in place (hopefully). If you’ve always wanted to know how to knit a hat, sew a dress, paint a masterpiece, dance the merengue, bake a lemon meringue pie, win at chess, or…you get the idea—this is your big chance. After all, when will we ever have this much free time again?
6. Teach Yourself a Foreign Language.
Once again, technology can help with this. Decide on your favorite language, then download one of the many available apps. (As a result of the current crisis, German-based Babbel has made its app free for all US K-12 and college students until the end of term.) If you prefer learning from a book, order it online or check out an e-book from your local library. Make mastering the new language even more fun and interesting by persuading a roommate, friend, or family member to conjugate verbs in French, Italian or Swahili with you.
7. Take Part in the Great American Readathon!
There’s never been a better time to dive into that growing pile of magazines you subscribe to, but don’t usually get around to reading. Or take on that fat classic you’ve been meaning to read since your school days. And if you’re missing social interaction, persuade your book club to join you virtually. Think how accomplished you’ll feel—when we can again gather socially—when you can casually drop into the conversation how much you enjoyed reading “Anna Karenina” or “A Tale of Two Cities.”
Whether you live on your own, or have a full household during this time, there are many ways to stay positive, keep active, and connect with others. We’re in this together and we’ll get through it. The key is to stay healthy, follow your state’s directives on sheltering in place, and make the most of your time at home.