COVID-19. You’re probably tired of hearing that word. But that word is very much still a part of our reality (that never seems to end). While we’re waiting for all the vaccines to roll out and be made accessible for every citizen, we must continue to practice social distancing. COVID-19 cases are still spiking all over the country and in order to prevent the healthcare system from struggling to care for an over-capacitated hospital, we must do our part to prevent infections. Social distancing is necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Although we have all faced hardships during this past month, practicing radical acceptance and making the most out of the current environment won’t hurt. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, focus on how to find activities that spark joy during this time.
We asked one of our therapists, Andrea Gonzales, how we can have fun during this pandemic. She suggested “getting weird with it,” meaning doing things outside of the box that still creates a connection- even if it’s a bit awkward. As humans, we need that social connection to be happy so it’s important to find ways to maintain connections with family and friends. While you can’t really see a lot of people right now, there are ways to have fun with people at a safe distance.
We have put together ten fun and creative ways you can stay entertained during your period of social isolation.
Do you live with your family or roommates? Pass the time the old school way by playing some board games, card games, dominoes, or charades. You can even make up your own game or put a twist on a classic. For example, the loser cooks or orders dinner for everyone.
Thankfully, we are living in a digital age. Don’t fancy old school games? You can also play video games. The cool thing about video games is that you are not limited to playing with the people in your household. You can play games with friends online or if you’re brave enough, strangers. Video games aren’t limited to fancy console-based games. You can play games on your phone or through Facebook. There are thousands of free apps to choose from. Don’t be afraid to download and try some new ones!
Netflix Watch Party
Yes, this is a thing! Streaming movies and TV shows are always a go-to when we’re bored (who hasn’t seen The Queen’s Gambit yet?). However, did you know that there is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch content with friends online? This is the perfect way you can stay social by watching new shows and movies with your pals and keeping your distance at the same time. You can learn more about Netflix Watch Parties here.
House Party App or Zoom Hangouts
Are you an extrovert who thrives on social interaction? Or are you just a person who is missing their friends and family? There is a smartphone application called House Party that allows you to virtually socialize with your friends. The app sends you a push notification when one of your buddies is online and you can choose to join them.
A more structured approach to virtual hangouts is to set up a specific time for a Zoom meeting with your friends. You’re probably very familiar with Zoom at this point of the pandemic but we had to include it in our list. Drop them a link to your Zoom meeting room and have a chat with them. You can connect to Zoom either on any device through the app, or you can join from your web browser on your laptop. During your Zoom soiree, you can play a game, create your own happy hour, have dinner or brunch, or just vent to each other about the mess we are all in.
Meditation, prayer, or mindfulness walks can all be considered spiritual practices. You don’t have to be religious to have a spiritual practice. If you’re interested in meditating, take time to center yourself and just sit in stillness for a minute. Meditation can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. There are many different meditation methods. Try different things out and discover what works best for you.
If you’re not a gym person, no worries! There are plenty of ways to get your body moving at home that won’t bore you to tears. Working out is good for your mind, body, and soul. Plus, wouldn’t it be cool to come out of quarantine fit and healthy? It’s so important to get endorphins pumping through your brain on a daily basis, especially when you’re cooped up inside all day. Endorphins are the chemicals that make you happy. There are plenty of options for home workouts that don’t require fancy equipment. Support a fitness instructor by purchasing an at-home workout plan for them or tipping them during their live workouts online. Don’t have the funds for that?
You can find free instructional workout videos on YouTube of all of the following:
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
And so much more! You can find basically anything you want on the internet these days. If you have zero motivation to work out, that’s okay! We get it. The fact that you are surviving is enough. Look for other healthy coping mechanisms.
Read/Create a Virtual Book Club
So many people complain about not having enough time to read. Well, here’s your chance to read all those unread books on your shelf or pick up something new (online of course). Ask a friend or two to read the same book and then discuss it and BOOM! You have a book club. Not only would this motivate you to read more, but there is also that social element that allows you to connect to others at a safe distance.
Being creative during this time can be hard. No one blames you if the creative light within you had a power outage. However, if you do get a spark of inspiration, expressing your creativity can be very therapeutic.
Here are some examples of creative endeavors you can get into:
- Video creating
- Painting (experiment with different mediums like watercolor, acrylic, oil, or spray paint.)
- Upcycling old clothes
- Writing stories, poems, plays, etc.
- Learning how to make new recipes
- Paper macheing
- Build a dollhouse or put together an epic Lego creation
- Build a fort
- Choreograph a dance
- Perform a monologue from a movie or TV show for your family
Spruce Up Your Space
Do you have a fun home improvement project you’ve been wanting to do for ages? Now is the time to let your inner HGTV star shine. Paint a wall to give a room a pop of color. Thrift a piece of furniture from Facebook marketplace and spray paint it or reupholster it to give it a new look. Add some plants to your space. Frame some photos and create a gallery wall. There’s a ton of cheap, fun ways to make your home cozier.
Take a Class
You have been putting off learning Spanish, haven’t you? Time to go back to school. It is the perfect time to learn new skills or brush up on old ones. There are thousands of cheap/free classes online that you can take advantage of. You can learn languages, art, photography, cooking, and anything else you can imagine. YouTube has a lot of great how-to videos and there are universities offering free classes. Skillshare is a great learning platform for all skills and apps like Duolingo are great for fun language learning.
Safe Outdoor Activities
While the previous topics were things you could do indoors, there are plenty of other things you can do safely outside (if the weather is nice).
- Have a picnic
- Rock climbing
- Snowboarding, skiing, or sledding
Looking for Safe Activities in New Mexico?
For the current COVID-19 restrictions in New Mexico, check out Visit Albuquerque or call the NMDOH Coronavirus Hotline at 1-855-600-3453.
Wondering What You Can and Can’t Do Outside During Covid-19?
As outdoor lands and some recreational areas reopen in Albuquerque and New Mexico, state officials are reminding residents and visitors to be respectful of these places and continue to take precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19. Get 10 rules to follow outdoors in New Mexico here.
101 Ways to Stay Busy During Covid-19 (and after)
No matter what socially distant activities you choose to participate in, if they involve people outside your household, please wear a mask and keep your distance. Please be safe and considerate of others.
If you need some more ideas of safe things you can do with your time, you’re in luck! Andrea was wonderful enough to make a list of 101 Ways to Stay Busy for you to download and print here so you do not have to fall into the endless pit of despair. No matter what you get up to during your time of social distancing, remember that a pandemic is not a productivity contest. Just because there are people on social media showing off that they’ve read 100 books, started a business, and learned Chinese this week, does not mean you’re behind somehow for now spending your time the same way. This is not an easy situation to cope with. Take care of yourself and check on the ones you love. That is enough. You are enough. It’s totally okay to not be okay.
*Editor’s Note: This article has been updated and was originally published on April 22, 2020.
Imani is a writer who is passionate about helping others through her work. Her own struggles with mental health and experience in therapy give her a unique perspective to empathize with our patients and readers. Her experiences influence the articles that she writes. In her free time, Imani enjoys traveling, making YouTube videos, reading, and obnoxiously singing to show tunes.
*All blog content that is written by Imani is approved by a licensed mental health professional.*