The novel Coronavirus that is spreading ‘round the world and ravaging our economy isn’t going away anytime soon. Opinions vary on whether the whole thing is being overblown by the media or whether the steps taken to curb this global pandemic are necessary. More than 6,500 lives have been lost worldwide and that’s nothing to make light of. But whether you call it panic or preparedness, state and local governments, the CDC, and even the federal government now, are asking people to stay solitary as much as possible.
Here are 5 ways to beat the social distancing blues, and to make this the best self-quarantine ever.
Dogs are immune to Coronavirus, so snuggle that fur baby.
1. Bask in all the money you’re saving
not eating out, going to bars, or driving to work. As a disclaimer, this doesn’t apply if you’re spending all your new-found free time online shopping. Think about it: No $6 lattes from Starbucks, no filling the tank after your week-long commute, no going out to a “casual dinner” and spending $120 because your casual dinner had to include four cocktails. Pharmacies and grocery stores will remain open, so try not to fall into “Target syndrome” and spend $80 at the pharmacy when you literally went in for one prescription. And for the love of god- STOP HOARDING! I promise there are plenty of free ways to have fun and get so-productive. (<- to be read that in the key of 50 cent “’Lil Bit”.) Read on to find them.
2. Go for a walk, hike, bike ride, kayak
Sounds counterintuitive, but believe it or not the outdoors is not off limits in this time of self-quarantine. Even in the Bay Area, now under strict “shelter in place” orders, residents are permitted to leave their homes for walks, bike rides, and other forms of exercise so long as they are not within six feet of non-family members or housemates. You can take in all the sun rays, wind gusts and beautiful vistas your heart desires. The science is in: Spending time outdoors, in nature, is good for you. From staving off anxiety and depression, to improving your immune system and vision (what!?) to making us more focused and creative, the benefits of getting out of the city and into the trees are innumerable. Don’t take my word for it; Here are some articles outlining the positive effects of being outdoors from publications you may trust more than me.
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately—potential job loss, worries for loved ones more susceptible to the virus, where I’m going to live—and getting outside for a run has been realllly helpful in keeping those thoughts from spiraling into mental chaos. This is probably the biggest reason I keep running. For me it’s like meditating. I get to mull over a problem or decision I’m trying to work out, and almost always end up feeling way more positive about it after a few miles. And sometimes I don’t think at all. I zone out to the sound of my music in my ears and my feet hitting the pavement. Some people only run if they’re being chased, and hey– no shade! But there is undoubtedly some activity you can enjoy in the out-of-doors that will up your endorphins and lift your spirits.
Get that fresh air. It is almost guaranteed to make you feel better about missing that concert/conference/other gathering that has been cancelled.
Exercising outside: Still allowed.
3. Start a blog!
You have so much time on your hands, might as well get around to it now. Pick your passion and go with it. Video games, travel, first dates gone wrong, day trading for amateurs, commentary on Disney plus shows, or maybe one of my favorite topics—sleep! Not a writer? No worries, YouTube has got your back. Start a Vlog and get the videos rolling. Face for radio? Podcast. Boom! No more excuses.
4. Clean those dust bunnies that have been hiding under your bed
You know, the ones you only see when you peek under to find something you’ve dropped. And while you’re at it, why not get to those other household projects you’ve been putting off: mopping the floors, cleaning out the fridge, organizing all those cosmetics that are tumbling out at you every time you open the bathroom cupboard…? If you want some tidying inspiration, check out Marie Kondo & the Konmari method, a set of tools to help you declutter, tidy up, and live a life that sparks joy. There are plenty of videos to help you get started here.
5. Get Smart
Take advantage of your free time and the literally thousands of hours of free online courses offered by top universities, third-party education sites, and even YouTube. Kahn Academy offers courses from Kindergarten to adulthood in subjects like math, computing and personal finance as well as test prep for the LSAT, GMAT ,GRE, etc. Coursera offers all kinds of degree-building classes from engineering to public health to philosophy and everything in between. EdX provides courses in data science, business management, and even the often shunned but cherished nonetheless humanities. Here is a list of 25 sites for free online education via Lifehack.
Or, why not try your hand at a new language? Duolingo, Babbel, or Linguistica 360 offer useful apps to get you on your way. And if you happen to be learning Spanish, I highly recommend Señor Jordan’s YouTube Channel.
A lot of us are in the same boat of uncertainty, not knowing whether we will have jobs at the end of this thing. There is no time like the present to gain some new knowledge and skills. At worst we can use them in our career-pivot. And at best it’s good to know things.
Learn a new skill or get started planning that post-quarantine vacation
6. Plan your post-Corona Vacation
I’m on planes every single day because I have to be. But the CDC recommends that you keep your butts home and refrain from travel until the virus spread is under control. I definitely urge you to follow protocols. Read: DO NOT GO ON VACATION RIGHT NOW. But someday it will be over and you will be more ready than ever for a getaway. Start reading travel blogs to get wanderlusty. Look at pictures of national parks and pristine beaches and other beautiful places to get yourself excited. Research the transportation of a region you’re considering visiting, check out the attractions you definitely want to see and those for which you feel “meh” and could do without. Favorite a cluster of potential Airbnbs you’d like to stay in. Come up with a Plan A and then a Plan B trip that are totally different from one another. This health crisis is ever-evolving and could effect certain travel plans well into the Spring and Summer.
Sometimes planning a trip is a lot of work, but you’ve got tons of time. Doing the research without spending the money could be really fun and bring some excitement into these lonely days.
This piece is not meant to make light of the serious health and economic toll the Coronavirus is taking. But instead, I’m offering up some useful tools to get you out of your head and doing something productive, and maybe even—dare I say it—fun. There are a lot of other things you can do: Play Heads Up with your friends via Skype, finally put a dent into that long and ever-growing reading list, cook—eat—savor—repeat, have family singalongs, and of course the obvious, drink wine and binge-watch Netflix. My suggestions are meant to make you feel accomplished, productive, less hopeless and more happy.
Staying sane and sharp and positive means making the most of a situation; accepting the things you cannot control and focusing instead on the things you can. We are all in this together.
Share your best social distancing activities in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading!