So, you’re social distancing, huh? Me, too. The practice of social distancing is going to save many lives, since doing it will mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It’s especially important for those of us with the privilege to participate in social distancing to do so because there are many frontline workers who don’t have the option. So here we are, together… but not physically, obviously.
If you’re wondering what to do to keep yourself mentally healthy and adequately busy during this time, read on. I’ve compiled a list of 25 things you can do while social distancing.
1. Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do (from home).
Ok, this one might not be for everyone, but I love lists. For me, it’s helpful to get all of my thoughts in order. Maybe your list will be a list of books to read or a list of shows to binge. Whatever it is, writing it down can be a good way to give yourself some structure.
Something I always say I want to do more of is reading for pleasure. Some local, independent bookstores are doing deliveries, so you could support a small business in the process of reading more. Many of my friends are taking this opportunity to read more and turning it into a virtual book club.
3. Make pasta from scratch.
This is way easier than it sounds and it steps up your pasta game so much. My roommates had to cancel their trip to Italy (understandably), so this was a fun way to bring Italy home to us. Just google an easy recipe and you’ll find that you already have everything you need in your own kitchen.
4. Learn to bake your favorite dessert.
I’m more of a savory girl myself but I have a sweet spot (pun intended) for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Yesterday, I made them from scratch for the first time and discovered that not only am I very good at baking them but baking is very good at relieving my stress.
5. Watch cooking or baking shows instead of actually cooking or baking.
Not all of us are cut out to be chefs. So, it can be nice to just watch the professionals doing it. I’m a big fan of Ugly Delicious, Salt Fat Acid Heat, and The Final Table. Each of those shows has a different vibe but they all show some really, really good food.
6. Go on walks, runs, or bike rides (keeping 6-10 feet away from other people).
If you’re able, get outside! A common misconception about social distancing is that you have to stay home all day long. As long as you don’t get close to anyone or touch anything, some outside time should be okay (if you’re not sick).
7. Find new ways to have sex with your partner or yourself.
This only applies to partners you live with. Sorry, but I am a social distancing fanatic. Watch some porn, then reenact it with a partner. If you’re single, buy a new sex toy online or try sexting (consensually).
8. Fun alternatives for exercise (like rollerblading or learning Tik Tok dances).
I have to be honest — this one was suggested by my roommates. They have been learning Tik Tok dances while couped up in our apartment and it’s honestly bringing them great joy.
9. Pay your favorite fitness instructors to participate in virtual classes.
Lots of fitness instructors are doing workout classes via YouTube, Instagram Live, or other video services. Many are just asking for donations. This is a great way to get your body moving and support people who may not have income due to COVID-19.
10. Learn fun makeup tricks by watching YouTube tutorials.
This has big “getting dressed up with nowhere to go” vibes but can be really fun! The fact that you don’t have to go anywhere or see anyone really lessens the pressure to get it perfect on your first try.
11. Find your best selfie angles after mastering those makeup tricks.
Once you are able to perfect your makeup, it’s time to take selfies! I find that it’s easy to get into a cycle of negative self-talk when you’re all alone in your house. Getting dressed up and making yourself feel hot and taking pictures is a fun way to fight off the self-esteem blues.
12. Learn about mutual aid and help marginalized people virtually.
A lot of people are being laid off or given zero hours at work. It’s a great time to plug into social networks and help out where you can. If money’s tight, maybe you can offer to grab groceries for an elderly or immunocompromised person in your life.
13. Have a Google Hangout or group FaceTime with your friends.
You might not be able to see your friends in real life but you can have meaningful conversations with them over Google Hangouts or FaceTime. The best part is you can talk to a bunch of them at once, host dance parties, or virtual coffee dates.
14. Start writing a gratitude list every morning or night.
During this time, I’m feeling a lot of extra anxiety. It’s helpful for me to write a gratitude list as a grounding activity.
15. Tidy up your house the Marie Kondo way.
If you haven’t watched the show or read the book, doing either is a great first step. Then, you can tidy up your house and make sure you live in a space that brings you joy — especially when you’re spending so much time there.
16. Grow herbs.
The only advice I have here is to start with mint to get your confidence up. If you start with basil and you kill it… I’ve been there.
17. Become a coffee connoisseur (there are coffee subscription services).
If you’re working from home, maybe you need some extra energy. It’s a great time to become a coffee snob! Get yourself a French press and get going, friends.
18. Do crafts.
If you have a patio or backyard, maybe you can do some outdoor renovations. Take your old dresser outside and give it a fresh coat of paint. If not, you could do a puzzle in your living room with a nice mug of hot chocolate.
19. Write letters to friends (snail mail).
With technology so often at our fingertips, writing letters can seem burdensome. During this time, it could be a fun and novel way to keep in touch with friends. It’s always exciting to get something in the mail.
20. Practice self-care.
This can be whatever it means to you. For me, I find that journaling and taking a bath can really help me when I’m not feeling mentally well.
21. Write yourself a forgiveness letter.
When you have a lot of time to yourself, it can be a good time for self-reflection. I know a lot of us will feel guilty if we aren’t working hard enough while social distancing, but it’s a good time to forgive ourselves and be patient and compassionate with ourselves.
22. Learn to juggle household items (don’t blame me if your partners or housemates get angry).
This is another suggestion from my roommates and I take no responsibility at all. This could be a cool, new skill to show your coworkers after you get back to work.
23. Unionize your workplace.
All I’m saying is you have a lot of time away from your bosses to organize your colleagues.
24. Take an online class.
Several universities offer archived classes for free. It could be a good time to take a class in a subject area you’re interested in. Maybe you could take a Microsoft Excel class and finally become proficient despite lying that you are on your resume for years.
25. Do movement that makes you happy!
What I’m suggesting here is just to make sure you aren’t sitting in front of your computer screen all day, every day. I’m guilty of this but I know I feel so much better when I do some movement throughout the day. I find that yoga and outdoor walks are best for me.
These 25 things to do are just a shortlist to get you started and keep your mind and body active. It’s good to be busy and engaged but remember it’s okay to rest, too. In between check-ins with friends, family, and my therapist, I’m trying to take time for me — even if that time is for napping. Whatever you choose to do, I hope you stay healthy and safe!