by Ben Nicolas
on Friday, March 20th, 2020 at 9:00am.
Practicing social isolation is the most important thing we as a nation can do to "flatten the curve" and minimize the impact of COVID-19. Luckily, in the age of Netflix, there’s no shortage of things to watch while you’re housebound.
But if we’re going to be stuck inside for a while, and it’s becoming likely that we will, we’re going to need more than just TV to get us through this. If you need some help thinking of ways to entertain yourself and your loved ones during social isolation, here are 10 ideas.
1. Write Cards and Letters to the Elderly
This is a scary time for everyone, but no doubt it’s even more so for the elderly. They need love and comfort more than ever right now.
Making cards to send to nursing homes is a great activity to do with your kids. It will keep them occupied, let them express some creativity, and teach them about helping their community.
Try calling local nursing homes to see if they already have a pen pal program in place or just address the card to all the residents. Either way, they’ll be happy to know that people out there are thinking of them.
2. Start a Virtual Movie Club with Your Friends
One way to keep connected to the outside world is to start a virtual movie club with some friends. Appoint yourself the leader and compile a list of movies to choose from that are available to stream and have everyone vote on their picks. Like any other movie night pick a date and time for everyone to sit down and watch.
You could put everyone in a group text chain to discuss it or try out the Chrome extension called “Netflix Party.” It allows everyone in your group to stream at the same time, and there’s a chat window attached.
3. Find a Daily Physical Challenge
We have no idea how long social distancing will last, so it’s important to find ways to keep active around the house. One fun way to do that and track your progress is to take on a physical challenge for yourself.
Have you always wanted to do the splits? Have you always told yourself that one day you’ll be able to do 50 push-ups? Are you a yogi who can’t do a headstand yet? Then what better time than right now to work up the strength to do it?
Whatever your goal may be, there are all sorts of tutorials and videos online you can find that will teach you how to meet it.
This is unlike any other time in modern history, and while you think you could never forget what’s happening, you should still consider keeping a journal. Years from now when the memories fade it will be interesting to read back on just exactly what was going on and how you felt as it was happening. It will be especially interesting if you have young children who are living through this but will likely have very limited memories of it later on.
Plus, journaling is proven to be a major stress reliever. Everyone could surely benefit from that right now.
5. Develop a Morning Routine
The new social isolation guidelines have completely torpedoed most people’s daily routines. For a while, you might relish in not having to rush to work or get up early to make the gym. However, you’ll soon find that the lack of structure will make it very difficult to stay productive.
Instead of finding yourself still in your pajamas at 5 pm when it’s time to make dinner, establish a morning routine. Plus, since you have nowhere to be, you can make it as leisurely as you want (assuming you don’t have young children, of course).
Set a daily wake-up time. Maybe have a hot cup of lemon water followed by a few minutes of meditation or a half-hour ride on your Peloton. Take a shower, get dressed and be at your desk to start work just like you’re clocking in and out.
6. Start a Podcast
Practically everyone working in entertainment here in Los Angeles has had their work come to a halt. The only industry that can still go on relatively unaffected is podcasting!
If you’ve always had an idea for a podcast, now’s the perfect time to do it. It will take a little bit of money up front to get started but it doesn’t have to be too expensive. Plus, you can get all the equipment you need from Amazon and have it delivered to you without leaving the house.
There are plenty of tutorials online for learning how to record, edit, and publish to iTunes. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize it’s pretty easy. And who knows, you might emerge from social isolation as a podcasting star!
7. Take a Class
Have you been meaning to brush up on your Spanish? Want to learn Adobe Photoshop? There’s no better time than right now to take an hour a day to take a class online.
You have all kinds of options available to you at a myriad of price points, especially since lots of websites are offering sales on their classes. Can’t decide on what you want to learn? You could sign up for a Masterclass unlimited membership and try out a variety of classes from cooking to creative writing taught by celebrity experts.
8. Make Your Workplace Special
Whether you worked from home before or you’re now making the adjustment to the remote lifestyle, you’re about to be seeing a lot of the inside of your house. When you start to get antsy, you obviously can’t head to a cafe to work just for the change of scenery.
Why not make your workspace a place you like to be? Put up some framed photos, organize your file cabinet, order a new chair online. Do whatever you can to make your workplace inspiring, functional, and comfortable––you’re about to be spending a lot of time there.
9. Plan a Date Night
Social isolation means you now have the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with your family. But hanging around in your sweatpants all day or homeschooling your kids will take the romance out of any relationship.
Many couples make it a point to have a date night every week to stay connected. But just because you can’t leave the house, doesn’t mean you can’t have a special night in once in a while.
Schedule an evening to experience some love in the time of corona. Get a little dressed up, shave or do your hair. Order in take-out from a nice restaurant you’d been meaning to try before isolation. Instead of eating in front of the TV, maybe sit in the dining room or put out a blanket in the yard for a picnic.
If you have kids, wait for them to go to bed and pop open a bottle of champagne and splurge on a special dessert. Contrary to what you might have heard, calories do count in isolation, but you and your partner definitely deserve a treat right now.
10. Take it Easy
You might be feeling pressure to be productive during this time or to keep life as close to normal as possible.
Just remember, this is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. You might be worried about an elderly or immunocompromised relative. If you’re in the house with kids, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed. Your job might be hanging in the balance.
Even if you don’t have any of these stresses to think about, you’re completely warranted in feeling anxious, scared, or upset. Be kind to yourself. If you’re having a particularly tough day and all you want to do is watch TV and eat some ice cream, it’s not the end of the world if you allow yourself some comfort.
Remember, stress is one of the biggest culprits for a low immune system. Do what you can to keep calm!