By now, most of us know the basic rules of social distancing: leave home as little as possible, and when you do, stay at least two metres away from anyone who doesn’t live in your household.
The question is, with gatherings off-limits - and with pubs, cinemas and attractions temporarily closed - how do you keep boredom at bay?
Here are some ideas that support public health and personal happiness.
If cabin fever is getting to you
Make a video date
It's a pretty safe bet that your friends feel as cooped up as you do. Even if a real-life coffee meet-up can’t happen, video conferencing apps such as FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom let you connect virtually and see everyone’s faces, no matter where they in the world they might be.
Crank the music
Great tunes can spark positive shifts in mindset, motivation and mood. Use a streaming service such as Spotify or Apple Music to craft a feel-good playlist of your personal faves, or dust off your old vinyl collection and fire up the turntable. Extra points for singing along!
Try a home workout
Sick of your living room? Turn it into a gym. WW has plenty of free home workouts to get you started, some which require no equipment whatsoever, and others that you can do in a chair, or on the stairs. WW members also have Aaptiv audio workouts at their fingertips in the WW app. However your sweat session happens, it can build strength and help you stay positive.
Get some air
Sometimes the best cure for cabin fever is, well, leaving the cabin. And it’s okay to not dedicate your outdoor break to exercise. Even if you park yourself on a bench and spend 20 minutes marvelling at the daffodils, studies suggest you could come away feeling calmer and more focused. As long as you’re maintaining a safe physical distance from people who don’t live in your household, it’s all good.
If you feel like nesting
Do a wardrobe purge
Like many people, you probably own more stuff than you actually use or need. Now might be a good time to sift through those clothes at the back of your closet, the sports gear gathering dust in your garage, and other forgotten possessions. Set aside unwanted items to donate once social distancing guidelines are lifted. Your home will feel more orderly, and you’ll feel good for setting a positive intention.
Really clean your fridge
When was the last time you checked the expiration date on that bottle of ketchup at the back? Or wiped every stray garlic skin from the salad drawer? Doing a deep clean of the refrigerator and freezer will help you clear out those ancient perishables so you can see what you really have to work with. Also, you won’t know how weirdly satisfying this is until you do it.
Start a healthy garden
Most of us could use a cheerful reminder that spring is a season of growth and renewal. To that end, consider starting an outdoor (or indoor!) garden. You can order seeds, soil and tools online to start putting down roots.
Rearrange your living space
You may not be able to stroll through home improvement stores in search of decorating inspo, but you can freshen up your home simply by rearranging. Try swapping out photos in your wall frames, angling your sofa another way, or creating a reading nook by repurposing a cute lamp from another room.
Up your cooking game
With many restaurants on hiatus, now may be the perfect moment to stretch your skills in the kitchen. Ever wondered how to make homemade pizza? Or whip up healthier bakes using everything from black beans to avocado? Go for it. You don’t need a tonne of fancy ingredients - or chef credentials - to cook boldly.
If you want to help others
Support someone you know
Tough times can have a way of bringing out our deepest humanity. One way to make a direct, positive impact? Help people you know to the extent you are able. Who among your family, friends, or neighbours might be hurting right now? Perhaps you know an older person who’d be grateful for some grocery shopping help, or a neighbour who's struggling to pick up a prescription. Research suggests that generosity sparks happiness, which makes helping out a powerful win-win.
Donate to food relief
With many schools and food banks closed across the country, many households are facing hunger. If you’re in a position to make a charitable donation, consider giving to charitable organisation that is working to address hunger during these challenging times (they’re also good places to start if you’re in need of help). Another idea: if you’re a WW member, you can donate your extra Wellness Wins to WW Good, which provides fresh produce to families in need.
Support neighbourhood businesses
Social distancing protocols have been tough on restaurants, coffee shops, and other businesses that traditionally rely on foot traffic. Keep your community thriving by continuing to support those local entrepreneurs. Many restaurants are offering takeaways and home deliveries, and lots of shops on temporary hiatus are continuing to sell digital gift cards that customers can use once restrictions are lifted.
If you're at home with the kids
Hold a games night
In these smartphone-saturated times, it’s easy for an entire evening to slip past with everyone just staring at tiny screens. Take a break and come together over a board game instead, whether you opt for TV-themed trivia or a good old-fashioned game of Scrabble.
Put kids to work in the kitchen
Even when you’re not social distancing, it’s great to get kids involved in meal planning. Have them pick a few favourite ingredients, then delegate age-appropriate tasks such as measuring, cracking eggs and washing fruits and veggies. They’ll learn about healthy eating habits, and cut down on work for you.
Take a virtual field trip
You can’t exactly hop on a plane to Paris and explore the Louvre right now, but thanks to virtual tours, you and your kids can still marvel at the museum’s iconic Galerie d'Apollon right from the family laptop. It’s one of many free virtual field trips being offered by cultural sites, zoos, aquariums and other attractions around the world, proving you don’t need to leave home to broaden your family’s horizons.
Listen to an audiobook
Popular audiobook platform Audible is offering hundreds of free audiobooks to keep kids and families entertained as we all self-isolate at home. Whether you use them as a source of fun or education, audiobooks are a great way to engage the kids and keep boredom at bay. Audible has stated that "for as long as schools are closed, we're open", which means free audiobooks for the foreseeable future.
Share some TikToks
If you have tweens or teens in your household, chances are you’ve heard of TikTok, the wildly popular platform for sharing short-form dance, lip sync and comedy videos. Next time your family needs a laugh, try choreographing some clips together. Yes, you’ll probably look ridiculous, but that’s kind of the point.
If your mind needs a boost
Read for pleasure
Lots of us have been devouring just two kinds of reading material lately: work emails and neverending news reports. Your brain deserves a break! Whether you’re pulling old faves from your bookshelves, ordering new titles online, or reading ebooks on your Kindle, choose something that will provide a much-needed escape. Try a graphic novel that tickles your visual senses, a funny memoir to help get your mind off current events or a riveting mystery novel you just can’t put down. Even better: start a virtual book club with friends.
Check out a podcast
This is a great idea if you want to jog your brain without making your eyeballs do the work of reading. Find your next listening fix, pop in your earbuds, press play, and relax.
Tackle a new skill
Challenging the mind with “demanding tasks” may actually support long-term brain health, according to a 2013 review article in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. If you have downtime during your hours of social distancing, it might be beneficial to try a new skill or hobby. Ideas that don’t require special tools or gear include language learning, drawing and writing. Search YouTube for tutorials to get started.
Did you know? The WW member app includes Headspace meditations. If you haven’t already, now would be a great time to get your om on. Regular meditation may help lessen the strain of being stuck at home by supporting mental resilience and reducing anxiety.