A few weeks ago, I published a blog about how couples can spend time at home during the sheltering in place. I speculated that all streaming services are going to be well used during this time. Many people will binge on shows they have missed and movies they have wanted to watch, but that will only sustain and entertain you for so long. Despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus, this can still be a great opportunity to try new things, learn new skills or get back to something you love doing but don’t always have time for.
So, what can you do while you’re hunkered down and working to keep yourself and your community safe? I have adapted the previous list for individuals and added some new ones so you don’t have to; some are silly, some more serious, but all give you the opportunity to create memories, connection and hope during these surreal times. Some you can do alone, while others allow you to include others via technology.
But let’s be real here too, this still sucks. These are hard times. Hanging out with friends or family online is not the same as doing things in person. It will not feel the same. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t feel good. It will be different, and it’s not meant to replace our normal way of connecting, but in times like these our ability to adapt and pivot may mean all the difference in our mental health. It’s important to remember that the most powerful buffer of distress lives within our ability to have connectedness and resilience. With that in mind here are some creative ways to have fun and stay connected, if even from a distance.
50 Creative ways to spend time while sheltering in place:
- Get creative with technology. Have an outing with friends and family through video apps like Zoom.
- Cook with someone: the other day I video chatted with my mom while she walked me through cooking a new recipe.
- Get some friends on a video chat and have a drink or meal together just like if you were out at a restaurant.
- Have a video chat party, several platforms like Zoom have the option of inviting multiple people into the chat, get a big group together, maybe even people you don’t normally get to see because life is so busy, and connect. A client shared that someone in their office set up a “virtual kitchen” chat. It is open throughout the day for coworkers to stop by and catch up.
- Get a friend on the phone or video call and do something fun, watch a show together and chat about, do pedicures and talk about things that interest you, play a board game you both have.
- Dance. Put on some music, whether it’s slow or upbeat…just have some fun. You don’t have to dance well, just have fun. Get a zoom dance party going!
- Listen to new music and build a new playlist of songs you found through sheltering in place. Share songs with friends/family and ask them to do the same.
- Listen to old music and experience or write down the memories that go with the song.
- Exercise. You can do this by running or looking for intense programs online. You can also do it in a silly, fun way. Look up “weird workouts” and then try them. I’m sure you will laugh!
- Get outside. Spend some time on a patio, balcony, or yard. Breathe fresh air. Point out things you notice in your environment. Do the 5 Senses Count down.
- 5 Senses Countdown. This is a way to notice what is in your environment. It’s often used for people with anxiety or panic issues to ground them, but let’s be honest we can all use some grounding right now. It’s pretty simple: you have 5 senses, smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing. You start with 5 and 1 of the senses, you list 5 things in your environment based on the first sense you picked (example 5 things you see), then you go to 4 and pick another sense (example 4 things you hear), then 3 and another sense (example 3 things you smell), and continue all the way to 1. You can use the senses in any order. Also, touch can be what you feel on your skin, like a cool breeze or a soft shirt.
- Build a fort and watch a movie in it.
- Make a funny video or a music video.
- Pick some home projects you have been putting off, put some music on and be productive.
- Listen to a new audio book or podcast. Start an online “book club” and talk about it.
- Plan a future trip together.
- Do a puzzle.
- Appreciate the sky. Watch a sunset or sunrise, look for shapes in the clouds, at night look for stars.
- Write a story with friends on email or text, one person starts with 1-2 sentences and then the next person continues it…you can go around and around until you feel done.
- Send a surprise package to someone you know.
- Look up fun science experiments you can do at home
- Watch a documentary or Ted Talk. What was surprising? What did you find interesting? What feelings did it bring up?
- Interested in getting a pet? Spend time researching what you would want.
- Find a new video game to play or to play online with friends.
- Social Media or Screen detox.
- Visit a museum, aquarium or zoo online.
- Lip-Sync or karaoke using YouTube or a music streaming program, grab a hairbrush or spoon as a mic and go to town. Sing solo, sing online with friends and have fun.
- Declutter something. A junk door, closet, cabinet; you will leave sheltering in place feeling lighter
- Take the online quizzes that help you learn about yourself: love language, temperament test, etc.
- Take an online class. Learn a new language, a cooking class, art class.
- Document your experience through this time. Create your own “captains log”, use pictures and videos. Be serious, be silly.
- Try meditation. There are YouTube videos and apps that can take you through guided meditations. Here are a few videos to get you started:
- Learn about mindfulness and practice it. Check out this great video Why Mindfulness Is a Superpower: An Animation
- Purge…look for things to donate. Clothes, shoes, home goods.
- Color in a coloring book or print out free coloring pages.
- Take dance lessons using YouTube.
- Make a bucket list. Make it specific to all the things you want to do after Lockdown is over.
- Make a vision board for what you want the rest of your year to look like. Apps like “Wishboard” are great but you can use old magazines too.
- Chat with some friends online and tell jokes, riddles or ghosts’ stories.
- Make a time capsule of this historical moment, write letters about your experience. Pick a date in the future to open it. You can use a box or bag but seal it, date it and sign it. Then put it somewhere safe and set a reminder on your calendar to open it.
- Think and plan a few random acts of kindness you can do now or in the future.
- Play an online trivia game.
- Go window shopping online for something you want to save for.
- Build a Lego set.
- Learn a magic trick.
- Reread your favorite childhood books. What do you remember about the story? What memory do you have of reading the book or who read it to you. What feelings does it bring up?
- Make a list of local restaurants and activities you want to do when life returns to “normal”
- Watch comedians online; laughter is so important during times of stress.
- Re-watch your favorite movies. From childhood or more recent. Anything you notice this time that you didn’t see before. How old were you when you first saw it? What was going on during that time?
- Incorporate a new habit. It’s said it takes 30 days to establish a new habit…you have the time.
- Practice gratitude. Watch our blog on the Top Three. A great way to learn about and practice being mindful and grateful. Ask a friend or family member to do this exercise with you.
- Try EFT/Tapping if you feel overwhelmed or stressed. Here are 2 great resources How to tap and Free tapping meditations
- Relax. Try a long shower, bath, enjoy the slower pace. It won’t last forever, which is good but that means all the hectic schedules and commutes will restart. There may be things you miss about this slow down…try to enjoy those.
- BREATHE! Learn how to take deep calming breaths. Here are 2 helpful videos Reducing Stress Through Deep Breathing and 3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress & Anxiety.
Bonus Tip: Check out the blog “Hope is more powerful than fear” for a daily tool that can help combat difficult feelings.
Write the ideas you like down on individual pieces of paper and put them in a bag or jar. Then when you get bored, pull one out and do whatever it says…you will be bound to have some fun, laugh and create memories during this difficult time.
Also, if you are struggling and need support, all of our therapists are offering online sessions. We will be adding new services to help more people during this time; shorter sessions, short term sessions, groups, workshops and reduced fees. If you are interested in more information or you would like a free consultation fill HERE.
Stacy Lee, LMFT, has been employed at The Couples Institute in Menlo Park, CA, since 2008. She has trained with relationship experts Ellyn Bader, Ph.D and Peter Pearson, Ph.D. to provide innovative tools to couples and individuals. In 2019, Stacy became the Clinical Director of the institute’s therapy services. She is passionate about providing people with quality resources which includes building a network of skilled therapists to reach more couples and individuals.