25 Ways I’m Staying Busy, Happy, & Healthy while Social Distancing
How ya doing there, my friend? Tough times. Bored? Frustrated? Overwhelmed? Wondering what to do to occupy your time and be a good little social distancing global citizen?
I hope if you’re reading this, you’re home safe and healthy, but also following our directives to stay home, reduce movement, and prevent transmission of a risky virus that has put the world at a standstill. We have to do it to get our lives back. So, in the meantime, keep your pace, one breath, one hour and one day at a time. Social distancing for survival and a patient pause to get back on track.
I’ve read the lists on NCMA’s Virtual Field Trips, Visit Raleigh’s 150 Ways to Support Local Businesses, and USA Today’s 100 things to do while stuck inside.
But, this list is what I’ve been doing over the past couple weeks, helpful resources and suggestions, and some ways I plan to stick out our social distancing sentencing through end of April…if that’s all there is.
- Read a book. Or listen to one, if that’s your thing. I’m currently reading three: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism; Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit; and A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump. Don’t worry; I’ve got some fiction in the pipeline next with This Tender Land. Friend me on Goodreads.
- Read and support local media like Raleigh Magazine, Indy Week, Triangle Downtowner, WALTER, or WUNC. Read or subscribe to your local newspaper. In the Triangle, we’ve got The News & Observer. I’m a proud digital subscriber. They frequently have specials to make subscribing affordable. Check their site or Groupon.
- Watch something. I’m changing it up between rewatching favorites like Law & Order SVU or Schitt’s Creek and alternating it with new things like Hillary and Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu and Self-Made and Tiger King on Netflix. Don’t want to watch alone? Watch the same thing as your family or friend and text each other while you walk.
- 4a. Write a card or letter to someone. Put it in the mail. This one came in the mail to me the other day from someone I hadn’t heard from in a long time. And I cried. (That’s okay.)
4b. Thank your mail carrier. I yelled outside the other day, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!
- Exercise Inside. Body Coach Joe Wicks posts a daily P.E. Class on his YouTube channel Monday through Friday that is keeping British kids active. Yoga with Adriene has a daily workout and you can also pick all kinds of options — under 10 minutes, for your shoulder (me!), restorative, or a themed series.
- Go for a walk outside. Explore your neighborhood. Explore the nearby footpath, greenway, or sidewalk. Walk to your nearest park. I’m fortunate that I can safely walk to Shelley Lake. Maybe you’ll run into a neighbor of friend and can say hi! So far, I’ve run into a few friends. We wave, smile, and keep going, at our social distance.
- Visit a new park. Go online and look at local city, county, or state parks and pick one you’ve never been to. Drive to it and explore a trail, but keep your distance, in accordance with the guidelines. You’re allowed to go for a drive and you’re allowed a change of scenery.
- Organize all that paperwork, bills and other organizational or life stuff that keeps piling up around. You know what I’m talking about. It gets under my skin so I just keep moving it from this counter to this ledge to this shelf…
- Phone a friend or family member. Go through your phone and randomly select someone or be intentional and thoughtful about others. Consider especially those who live alone.
- Stick to habits. I have hot tea in the morning and evenings. I fail at going to bed at a reasonable time because of my ADHD and severe chronic insomnia, but every day I keep trying.
- Learn something new. A lot of groups are offering virtual lessons and networking opportunities. Use that subscription you signed up for to do language learning. Try LinkedIn Learning or Lynda for their 30 day free trial. HubSpot has free certifications and definitely require a commitment. Now your weeknights are free, so what are you waiting for?
- Cook something yummy. I really wanted something sweet so I baked blonde brownies and then left them at my neighbors’ doors so I wouldn’t eat them all. They loved and hated me for it. Ha!
- Play virtual games with people. My hometown neighbor Kathleen suggested “Words with Friends.” Musole, Jonah, and Blair and I played it until the ads drove us crazy.
- Check social media accounts that will make you smile. A couple of my favorites: the North Carolina Zoo, The National Cowboy Museum because it was taken over by their security guard Tim, and Raleigh Metro Scenes to enjoy scenic city photography by Matt Robinson.
- Complete the census. Yes, please complete your 2020 census now! This way, census workers won’t have to come to your door. The Census Bureau advises completing it now even if you haven’t received your census ID by mail.
- File your taxes. The deadline was extended from April 15 to July 15, but why not get it done now? The IRS continues to limit operations due to the crisis, but still issue tax refunds.
- The 2020 election will still happen, one way or another. Check your voter registration. Visit I WILL VOTE to make sure you’re registered at your current address.
- Do a deep clean of different rooms in your house.
- Write in a journal (or a blog). Every night before I go to bed I write down things I’m grateful for or that made me happy. Sometimes I just call it “The Good.” Sometimes it’s 3 and sometimes it’s 6. It can just be a list of phrases or it can be a paragraph.
- Play music. Either an instrument if you’ve got those skills or just put some jams on in the background. Listen to your faves or something new. Dance or sing along, or just enjoy the mood. A lot of musicians are doing impromptu free concerts online. I’ve enjoyed complimentary concerts on Twitter courtesy of Chris Martin, John Legend, and Yo-Yo Ma. Then, I’ve also been known to blare Beyonce or Taylor Swift too.
- Feeling overwhelmed mentally? That’s okay. Who wouldn’t be during these crazy times? Get professional help from The National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 offers crisis counseling and emotional support 24/7 during the outbreak.
- Avoid the news and only amplify truth or thought leaders who can educate, help and inspire. There’s enough talking in circles and defeatist thoughts swirling around without giving it more of an audience. There are also too many newsletters overdosing us on the crisis. I’m starting to delete them right as they hit my inbox. Give extra love to the newsletters that help you escape or are amplifying causes.
- Advocate for what you care about. RESULTS, for example, has frequent calls to action. I’m partnering with RESULTS advocates locally and statewide to have virtual lobby meetings with our Members of Congress to keep the attention on solutions for U.S. and global poverty solutions. Join us on April 4 for the webinar featuring acclaimed NY Times journalist and author Nick Kristof, who will talk about affordable housing and global child survival.
- Going on virtual home tours! Every day, Zillow emails me 8-10 Recommended “Homes for You” and about once a week, Musole and I go online and tour the houses and discuss what we like and dislike about them. We’re not planning on buying and moving for a few years, but it’s a fun virtual activity and something to do together while apart.
- Do nothing. Really. It’s okay to sit and enjoy the stillness. Be okay with not being busy. Cuddle up with your favorite blankies. Americans are too busy so this forces us to practice a little patience and calm. The other day I just sat outside on my back deck looking at the scenery, enjoying the clear skies. One of my favorite things to look at is the Azalea bush next to the back door, obscuring the AC unit.
What are you doing to stay busy, happy and healthy during these tender times we’re living in?
Remember, it’s okay to take it one hour, one day at a time…
We’re going to be okay. We’re okay.
You are okay.
Lindsay K. Saunders is a North Carolina native, communications and outreach professional, community builder, and activist for a safer, happier, healthier, smarter, and more equitable, just world. Lindsay is also a Millennial who optimistically believes there is more creative change happening around us than we appreciate or realize.