60 Productive ways to spend time when you’re social distancing
March 16, 2020
If you’re low-key (or high key!) stressing out over the COVID-19 pandemic, know you’re not alone.
It’s impossible to ignore the near-constant headlines with updated numbers of coronavirus cases, alongside the photos shared on the various social networks of empty grocery shelves.
The general advice these days is to stay home as much as possible and practice ‘social distancing’ - the avoidance of unnecessary get togethers or interactions with other humans for the next few weeks. And that’s for the healthy among us! Quarantine or isolation is a possibility for many—even if you don’t fall ill, coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus could result in your doctor recommending a period of isolation.
And while mandated time on the couch was fun when you were 11 and staying home to watch The Price Is Right on a sick day, it feels much different when you’re an adult accustomed to a busy schedule and social gatherings.
I haven’t gone out and panic-purchased toilet paper but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the steady hum of anxiety as we wait for next steps from the government and try to figure out how best to go about our days to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy. Social distancing is tough on everyone.
So what’s the best way to spend our time while we're social distancing? Of course, if you’re working from home (either as a professional or a student), the first thing to do is make sure that you’ve done all of your assignments and work first. But if you find yourself with time on your hands, here are some other productive things that you can get done if you find yourself social distancing at home for an extended period, and hopefully the uptick in productivity will help with the inevitable anxiety.
Ways to spend time while you’re social distancing or in quarantine:
(Lots of them come as recommendations from our OhmConnect community on how they spend #OhmHours!)
Get on the same page as your family. (Ask each other questions like “What do you think will be the biggest challenges while we're social distancing? What are the strengths that we each have as an individual family member that can help out?” Discussing concerns and expectations about the quarantine, and what role each person can play to make it better.
Overwhelmed by the swell of COVID-19 news? Sign up for a link curating service like refind.com and read the articles it recommends as most relevant to you (or just as many as you can manage).
Set up a structure for your day. Maintaining a quarantine routine will be important but it doesn’t need to be strict. (Something like waking up in the morning at your usual time, showering, getting dressed and getting into work for the morning, etc.)
Get all your documents in order for tax time.
Plan a holiday (for someday in the future when it’s less chaotic to travel, that is.)
For family or friends you can’t see in person, try a video chat and have virtual dinner dates.
Write thank you notes to the people in your life you’re thankful for.
Make a scavenger hunt of things for kids to find around the house. Could be a good way to encourage them to tidy up
Lie on the roof and watch the stars.
Water the plants.
Set up a tent in the backyard.
Journal or vlog your day-to-day social distancing life so friends and family can keep “in the know” with you and your family.
Transfer photos from your phone to an external hard drive. This is your chance to banish the "full memory" warning for at least a month.
Update your resume and portfolio, so the next time you see a job listing that inspires you, you can be the first to apply.
Unsubscribe from all the newsletters clogging your inbox that you never, ever open.
You've likely already started reading a bit more than usual these days. Why not get into the personal history of your favorite authors, through articles, videos and documentaries?
On that note, have a look at your personal library and pull out a book that you’ve never managed to get around to. That way, the next time you’re at the bookshop you can buy a couple without feeling guilty.
Is your bookcase full to bursting? Try to come up with a new cataloging method for it. Maybe by color?
While you’re at it, put aside three books to lend to your friends when you see them next.
Reading is great, but chatting about the books you've read is even better: join an online book club. And if none of them are piquing your interest, start your own!
Virtual yoga with friends who are in the same boat can be a mental health life saver while you're social distancing. Yoga with Adriene is my favorite.
Online video or card games with friends, for the win! (We’re in the process of trying to teach my parents how to play euchre online so our weekly in-person game can have a substitute while we're all in isolation.)
If you stopped opening up the Facebook app a while ago (and we don’t blame you), create a calendar with all your family and friends' birthdays.
Become an expert in something! Want to amaze your friends with knowledge? Learn about where the prices of electricity come from so you can be that guy or gal with the fun facts at the next dinner party (whenever that is.)
Tidy up your Instagram profile: are you sure that Clarendon filter photo you took on Spring Break in 2016 should still be up there for the world to see?
Why not take some shears to your Instagram feed while you’re at it? Unfollow all the boring people you've accumulated over the years or the ones who don’t still bring you joy.
Still want a busy Insta newsfeed? Start repopulating it with some really interesting people: maybe artists, psychologists and other experts in their respective fields. (Accounts I love include @earthfervor, @bymariandrew and @tanksgoodnews.)
Watch a yoga tutorial and get the whole sun salutation sequence down.
Want even more calm and zen? It can never hurt. Download a meditation app like Calm, Headspace or 10 Percent Happier and bliss out (or at least bring your breathing down to a normal pace.)
Study something new! You could come out of this whole social distancing thing a brand new person. It’s now possible to take thousands of top-level courses online, completely free. Here are a few of them.
Document what’s happening around you, how you feel, and what you do during the day while you're social distancing, because despite how spooky it is, we are in the middle of a pretty unique moment in history that may be interesting to look back on later in life.
Switch up the arrangement of the furniture in your room. Move the bed, rearrange the dresser. Heck! You could even go crazy and move the carpet.
Brainstorm some different ways to make your home more sustainable. (Remember when you said you’d do it when you had more time? Now is the time.)
While you’re at it, think of some ways to make your shopping more eco-sustainable. Start to familiarize yourself with the concept of draught products in supermarkets and get used to the idea of doing groceries (when it’s possible again) with not only a reusable shopping bag, but also with a few jars and containers for non-packaged products.
Now that you have the time, try to rethink your food waste strategy. Open the cupboard and check to see which foods are about to expire, and use them up in the next few days.
Do the same with any old creams and make-up. (Hello moisturizer from 2003!)
DO NOT do the same with your medicine drawer, but do throw out the expired ones, and check that your first aid kit is up to scratch.
Don't have a first aid kit? Order one online now.
If you are young and healthy, make yourself useful to the elderly and those with young children on your block or in your apartment building. Go to the pharmacy for them, or bring them their shopping to their front step.
Watch your favorite TV series from start to finish again. Maybe you felt like it was a waste of time before, but now is that time! If you want to feel less guilty and more productive, try watching it in another language.
Do something good for the world and sign petitions online that mean something to you. Change.org is a great place to start.
Online mobile games ! Team up with or challenge your friends with these online multiplayer mobile games
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