22 Fun and Healthy Things to Try While Social Distancing
By now, most of us know the basic rules of social distancing, aimed at slowing the spread of contagious coronavirus: Leave home as little as possible, and when you do, stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who doesn’t live in your household. The question is: With gatherings off-limits—and with malls, movie theaters, and cultural attractions temporarily shuttered—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 meetup can’t happen, video conferencing apps such as FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom let you connect virtually and see everyone’s faces. Even better, a group video chat allows you to include pals who are scattered around the world. No time like the present for an impromptu college reunion.
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 hits, 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. WeightWatchers® has tons of free home workout tutorials to get you started, including guides on yoga, kettlebells, high-intensity-interval training, and dance. 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 OK to not log a workout during your outdoor break. Even if you plop on a park bench and spend 20 minutes marveling at spring flowers, studies suggest you could come away feeling calmer and more focused. As long as you’re maintaining a safe physical distance from folks who don’t live in your household, it’s all good—and all green.
If you feel like nesting
Do a closet 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 steak sauce in the back? Or wiped every stray garlic skin from the crisper 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. These beginner guides to growing fruits, veggies, and herbs will get your green thumb in gear. And you can order seeds, soil, and tools online to start putting down roots.
Rearrange your living space
While you can’t stroll through home-goods stores in search of decorating inspo, 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. WW members can earn PersonalPoints™ for physical activity like major rearranging, and you’ll help your home feel new again.
Up your cooking game
With many restaurants on hiatus, now may be the perfect moment to stretch your skills in the kitchen. Have you been curious about how to butterfly a full chicken? Or make homemade pizza from Two-Ingredient Dough? Go for it. You don’t need a ton 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 neighbors might be hurting right now? Perhaps you know of an older person who’d be grateful for some grocery-shopping help, or a single parent down the block whose household could use a diaper donation. Research suggests that generosity sparks happiness, which makes helping out a powerful win-win.
Donate to food relief
With many schools and food pantries across the country closed during the pandemic, many households are facing hunger. If you’re in a position to make a charitable donation, consider giving to an organization such as No Kid Hungry, Meals on Wheels, or Feeding America, all of which are working to address hunger during the crisis. (They’re also good places to start if you’re in need of help.)
Support neighborhood 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 curbside takeout and home delivery, and lots of shops on temporary hiatus are continuing to sell digital gift cards that customers can use once restrictions are lifted.
If bad news travels quickly, misinformation moves at warp speeds. Next time you hear an alarmist rumor or spot a sketchy “news” item, check the source before you pass it around. Did the information come through an official channel, such as the CDC or your local officials? If not, no need to spread the scaremongering. You’ll be doing everyone a service.
If you're home with kids
Hold a game 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 an analog game instead, whether a hilarious game of chance like Exploding Kittens, or a classic strategy puzzler like Clue.
Put kids to work in the kitchen
Even when you’re not social distancing, it’s great to get kids involved in meal planning. Peer into the fridge together, have them pick a few favorite ingredients, and 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 cruise 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.
Try free teaching tools
Whether your fam is in full homeschool mode or you just want your kids to enjoy some extra enrichment, check out this list of educational companies offering free online subscriptions during the coronavirus outbreak. Participating companies include BrainPop, Scholastic, Khan Academy, and many more.
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 never-ending news reports. Your brain deserves a break! Whether you’re pulling old faves from your bookshelves, ordering hardcovers online, or reading ebooks through your local library, opt for selections you find immersive and pleasurable. 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 by browsing recent podcast picks from editors of the New York Times, Town & Country, and Esquire, then pop in your earbuds and hit play.
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.
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.
Jessica DiGiacinto is an associate editor at WW. A health and wellness writer and editor based in New York, she’s contributed to Popsugar, Bulletproof 360, and Galvanized Media, among other outlets.
This article was reviewed for accuracy in June 2021 by Christi Smith, MS, CSCS, associate manager for science translation at WW. The Science Team is a dedicated group of experts who ensure all our solutions are rooted in the best possible research.