Covid-19: Riding it out at home

10 things to do while practicing social distancing

Movie theaters are shuttered. Shopping malls have turned into ghost towns. Weddings have been postponed.

It’s a new normal that is anything but. The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting our daily lives and for how long remains unclear. But by canceling everything and staying home, we can help “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the virus. It’s a selfless act that can save lives, but for many, it comes at great economic cost.

For some, social distancing or self-isolation requires nothing more than a good book or a Netflix account. But for others, it can be disorienting. For those who fall into the latter category, here are a few constructive ways to pass the time and add some structure to your days.

1. Learn a new language

Want to learn to speak French — or brush up on the Spanish you learned in high school? Download a free language-learning platform on your computer, tablet or smartphone and start practicing. Duolingo (www.duolingo.com) offers six languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese. With Babbel (www.babbel.com), you can learn Dutch, Danish, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Spanish and Turkish. And Busuu (www.busuu.com) has 12 languages to choose from: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Turkish and Polish.

Spend some quality time with your best friend. — Photo courtesy Wendy Ruppenthal

2. Work out

One of the best antidotes to anxiety is exercise. Go for a walk, jog or bike ride — just stay at least 6 feet away from others. You can also break a sweat at home sans dumbbells or a weight bench. There are scores of free, no-equipment-required virtual workouts on YouTube, everything from yoga to pilates to strength training. And fitness companies like Orangetheory, Planet Fitness, Peloton and CorePower Yoga are now offering free at-home classes via livestream. Visit their respective websites for more information.

3. Learn something new

From chefs to cartoonists to musicians, teachers of all stripes have moved their classes online and many offer free lessons on YouTube.

4. Hang out with your pet

Travel the world from your couch. Google Arts & Culture offers free virtual tours of historic sites, museums and national parks, including Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. — Google Arts & Culture photo

If there’s an upside to staying home, it’s spending some one-on-one time with your furry best friend.

5. Tackle your honey-do list

Is there a home improvement project you’ve been meaning to start (or finish)? If you have the tools and materials handy, now may be a good time to pull it off the back burner.

6. Grow something

Gardening can have a positive effect on our mental and emotional health. Like physical exercise, research shows that it triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine in our brains.

7. Get organized

Clean out your closet. Go through the junk drawer. Delete old files from your computer. Minimizing or banishing clutter not only improves your living space but can also boost your mental health.

8. Take an online class

Interested in contemporary Russian literature? Curious about behavioral finance? Coursera (www.coursera.org) partners with companies like Google and IBM and more than 190 universities — including Yale University, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania — to offer free online courses in a variety of subjects. The Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) is a nonprofit organization that provides free online courses and short educational videos to learners of all ages.

9. Take a virtual trip

Google Arts & Culture offers free virtual tours of national parks (artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/parks), as well as tours of historic sites and museums around the world (artsandculture.google.com/partner), including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

10. Stay connected

Social distancing doesn’t have to equate to social isolation. Call your loved ones. Catch up with friends and family on the phone or through FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. Take the time to reach out to those who live alone — a single phone call could be a bright spot in their day. We are all in this together, so let’s take care of one another.


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