We wish we could do more to help the world in this uncertain time, but sometimes it’s alright to just do your best. In this case, “our best” involves finding innovative ideas – and sharing them with you in a fun, educational way.
So today, we’re here to remind you that staying at home doesn’t have to be boring – or even unhealthy. Whether you’re in quarantine, working from home, or just a homebody by nature, there are PLENTY of ways to stay healthy, happy and entertained!
Below you’ll find a GIANT list of ways to make the best of your time at home. We’ve divided it into 5 sections, so there’s something for everyone here:
- 10 General Tips On Thriving During Isolation (From A Submariner)
- 5 Tips To Stay Healthy
- 8 Tips to Stay Social
- 8 Tips To Have Fun
- 6 Tips To Keep The Kids Entertained
We’ll start at the top – with tips from someone who’s used to staying under.
10 General Tips From A Former Submariner
To kick things off, let’s start with some general tips. These come from a former submariner – so he knows a thing or two about spending long periods of time in the same space.
- Hold on to whatever is waiting for you on the other side. It doesn’t matter if it feels foolish, or whether there is certainty of it happening exactly as you plan in the end. Hope is essential. The current situation will end, and that means we all have a lot to look forward to afterward.
- Be silly. Crack jokes. Be odd. Let your mind wander when it needs to. You need to let that pent-up energy out as often as you can (see below for some ideas!). Channel it into whatever creative nonsense you can think of.
- Remember, food is fuel. Eat what you need, but ration the good stuff. You’ll need the good rewarding pick-me-ups spaced out in time.
- Start a journal. Put all your thoughts, poems, songs, rants, etc in it. Bonus if you can collaborate on it with others.
- Share your thoughts with others and commiserate often. We are all in the same situation, and it doesn’t matter how much worse anyone has it. Your feelings are valid, and need acknowledgement.
- Write letters to loved ones, and record videos for them to watch (or stream – see below for options). As the submariner says: “I always felt special when someone went to the trouble of making something like that for me, and letting me know they care. And I felt good making them too.”
- Start a project – something long-term that you have to work on gradually. Education, crafts, housework, a new hobby, art, etc. (Plenty of ideas for this below.)
- Make and share playlists for your various moods, and embrace the moods you feel fully. Get all the joy, rage, pain, and everything out. Scream if you need to. Don’t worry about looking crazy – you’re not!
- Get to know people that you would never talk to in your normal routine – perhaps online. They may change your life.
- Reward yourself for your accomplishments. Because you are awesome.
5 Tips To Stay Healthy
Staying healthy – both physically and mentally – is on all our minds, especially with gyms closed and outdoor activities limited.
In this section, we’ll cover some tips on keeping yourself in good health under any circumstances.
Tip #1: Stay Active With These Free Resources For Home Exercises
Although we COULD offer you a list of exercises you can do by yourself, we think there’s actually a better option: join a free guided workout!
These days, there are tons of apps and services offering free workout classes online. You simply download the app (or visit the website) and follow along from home. This is a great way to stay motivated while enjoying a community feeling!
There are plenty of apps out there, but here are a few options:
The folks behind Orangetheory are sharing a new 30-minute workout video every day. The videos are run by their most popular fitness coaches, so you’re in good hands here. Even better, none of the classes require special equipment, and it’s all done via YouTube – no apps or signups required!
2. Gold’s Gym
Gold’s Gym has made a collection of 600+ workouts completely free until the end of May. If you like a wide variety of options (or can’t find what you’re looking for elsewhere), this could be what you need!
3. CorePower Yoga
Whether you’re new to yoga or an experienced expert, CorePower Yoga has you covered. They’re currently offering free access to a special collection of online classes, including meditation. Check it out!
4. Blink Fitness
Prefer to work out live with other folks? No sweat! (Okay, maybe a little sweat). The kind people behind Blink Fitness are offering free Facebook Live sessions every weekday at 8 a.m. ET. You can find virtual workouts, motivating tips and even have your fitness questions answered by a professional.
Tip #2: Don’t Forget To Stretch!
Whether or not you’re into home exercise, everyone can use a good stretch. Stretching keeps your blood flowing, which is particularly helpful when staying in one place for long periods.
If you’re new to stretching, check out this video:
Tip #3: Try Meditation (If You Haven’t Already)
Meditation has been proven to help with a wide variety of issues, including depression and anxiety. It’s not just for gurus and yogis, either – EVERYONE can benefit from a moment of tranquility!
Everyone has their own way of meditating, and it can be as simple as closing your eyes and keeping your mind blank. For some, that’s easier said than done… so here are a few tips to get you started:
- Get comfortable and prepare to sit still for a few minutes. After you stop reading this, you’re going to simply focus on your own natural inhaling and exhaling of breath.
- Focus on your breath. Where do you feel your breath most? In your belly? In your nose? Try to keep your attention on your inhale and exhale.
- Follow your breath for two minutes. Take a deep inhale, expanding your belly, and then exhale slowly, elongating the out-breath as your belly contracts.
These tips come from Mindful – if you’re interested, check out their full guide to meditation here.
Tip #4: Cook healthy meals
We wrote a full article on this topic, but it can’t be overstated: eating well can help you feel well.
If you don’t have immediate access to a grocery store, consider ordering online. Here are a few options:
Note that all of these services appear to have longer wait times, so it may be smart to get your order in early. Additionally, be sure to check your local community Facebook page (most areas have one – try searching “[your town] community page” on Facebook) and make a post if you need help with any other resources.
Tip #5: Make your own cough syrup
Did you know? You can make your own cough syrup – and it’s just as useful as the pharmaceutical stuff!
This recipe uses ginger, lemon and thyme for a much-better-tasting version of homemade cough syrup. It’s a fun activity and it can’t hurt to have some on hand, especially if your local area is running low.
8 Tips To Stay Social
Just because we’re practicing “social distancing” doesn’t mean that we have to stay completely away from each other! There are plenty of ways to stay social and connected. Here are some tips:
Tip #1: Keep your regular social schedule – just do it online.
Do you regularly meet with friends for coffee or happy hour? Don’t give it up now! You can stick to all your regular appointments, just do them by phone – or online.
Not sure which way is the best to keep connected? No worries – we’ll cover that next!
Tip #2: Use tools to chat with friends & family
There are tons of tools out there… in fact, too many! This list from the LA times offers a great overview of the best options.
Here are the highlights:
- Phone Call: The classic! However, only two people can connect at once.
- FaceTime: Allows 32 people to connect at once.
- Google Duo: Allows 8 people to connect at once.
- Skype: Allows 10 people to connect at once.
- Zoom: Allows free one-on-one video meetings for as long as you want or up to 40 minutes for three or more people. With the paid plan, you can invite 100 participants for up to 24 hours long!
- Google Hangouts: Allows 25 people on video (or 150 on voice) to connect at once.
Tip #3: Plan “parties” from the comfort of home
So you can’t meet in person. So what? Here are some ideas for social events that you can still participate in from home:
- Host a dinner party or happy hour. Using one of the apps mentioned above, you can invite a bunch of friends and family to share a glass of wine – or even cook the same meal!
- Sing your heart out to some Karaoke. If your friends and family aren’t singers themselves, you can also join some strangers. Here’s a great article on how to find some Karaoke partners online.
- Play video games. There are TONS of online games these days – and the vast majority are free. This is a great way to stay connected with kids (or kids at heart). Oh, and if you need a bit of help getting started, we suggest watching a YouTube video to learn the ropes.
- Watch a movie, concert or live performance together. We’ll share more about this in the next section, but this is a great idea to keep in mind. You may need a couple tries to get your movies perfectly synchronized, but it’s worth it to gasp, laugh and cry all at the same time – from miles away!
- Host a remote game night. If you and family from afar both have the same game, this is perfect! Simply point your laptop or phone (tip: keep it charging) at the game area. Then, replicate the moves of the other players on your own board. Note: Not all games will work (Twister and Jenga, we’re looking at you).
- Take a workshop or online class. There are tons of workshops available, and many of them are currently being offered for free (or at heavily reduced prices). Just search “[your hobby] online workshop” on Google and look for the news articles. Chances are good you’ll find something that catches your interest!
8 Tips To Have Fun
Here’s a tip: instead of refreshing your Facebook feed all day, try doing something creative and exciting! There are many ways to enjoy your time from home, especially now. Let’s have some fun!
Tip #1: See what your favorite music artists are doing
Many musicians are streaming free concerts these days. It’s a win-win: they get to keep their audience captivated, and we get to enjoy our favorite artists. Score!
Tip #2: Continue your hobbies – here are 3 ideas!
Whether you already have a favorite pastime or are looking to start one, now is the time to give it your full energy. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Make music
Always wanted to be a musician, but never had the time? Now you do! If you already have an instrument (or feel like ordering one), go ahead and pick it up. There are tons of free online classes on YouTube for pretty much every instrument, so start there for a quick tutorial.
If you have an iOS phone, then consider grabbing Moog. This app is free for a limited time, and it allows you to play with sounds in a fun new way.
2. Start crocheting or knitting
If you don’t have a hobby already, crocheting and/or knitting could be your new favorite activity. They’re both independent activities, so you can do them at home – or anywhere. But even better, they offer a variety of health benefits! Both activities are shown to reduce anxiety and stress while exercising your physical and cognitive skills. No wonder they’re so popular!
3. Pick up a paintbrush or pen
Got some art supplies lying around? Time to create something with them!
Here’s a tip: try a few different art forms – such as painting, drawing, writing stories, writing poems, or even just journaling about your feelings. You may surprise yourself with how quickly you take to one of these activities. If you enjoy it, keep doing it!
Tip #3: Watch movies
Okay, this one’s obvious. However, if you’re like us, you’ve probably already burnt through the best flicks on your favorite streaming service. That’s not a problem – these days, there are a bunch of free options out there that can instantly resupply your watchlist. Here are a few:
- Acorn TV: This streaming service is offering a free 30-day trial when you use the code “FREE30” at signup. You’ll find lots of UK hits, which could tickle your fancy if you’re used to US shows.
- Sundance Now: This streaming service is owned by AMC, so you’ll find a variety of dramas and documentaries here. You can get a 30-day trial (extended from their typical 7-day trial) using the code “SUNDANCENOW30”.
- Sling TV: This American streaming service offers thousands of hours of free shows for a limited time. You can find ABC News Live and a ton of kids shows.
- PBS: If you’re missing the baseball season, this one’s for you. Ken Burns’ award-winning documentary, Baseball, is currently available for free – along with some other favorites.
- Shudder: Like creepy movies? You’re in luck! The aptly-named Shudder is offering a free 30-day trial with the code “SHUTIN”. Just be warned… there are some freaky flicks here.
- VidAngel: This family-oriented streaming service is now free until the end of March, as long as you agree to social distancing. They claim to have the world’s largest library of “clean comedy”, so there’s plenty to be enjoyed by the whole family.
- The Metropolitan Opera: Just because they aren’t holding shows for the time being doesn’t mean the opera is completely quiet. They’re offering nightly streams of performances, often with a theme. (This coming week is “Wagner Week”.)
- DOX Channel: It couldn’t be a better time to learn, and that’s what DOX Channel is all about. The documentary streaming service sliced its annual fee in half, from $30 to $15, assuming you sign up before the end of the month. You’ll find critically acclaimed documentaries alongside other lesser-known niche subjects.
Tip #4: Explore your backyard
The ultimate staycation just got more exciting! Now that you have some time on your hands, why not turn your backyard into an adventure zone for the kids? It’s a great time to start building a treehouse, bury some treasure, create an obstacle course for the family dog, or just play some outdoor games.
Tip #5: Redecorate or work on household projects
Whether you’re redesigning your kids’ playroom or finally doing something about the kitchen countertops, this is the right time to get creative – and take on some more complicated projects around the house.
Tip #6: Read a good book (or two)
You probably already have your favorite – plus a few that have been gathering dust on the bookshelf. They’re waiting for you… don’t disappoint them! But also, don’t forget about the digital books available on most tablet apps.
Your kids will also enjoy this. If you don’t have an app for your kids to read on already, this site offers a good comparison for kids.
Tip #7: Binge on world history with these free resources
A number of well-known educational institutions are offering their resources for free. Here’s a quick list:
- 100 Free History ebooks from Project Gutenberg – Project Gutenberg is a great source for public domain books, and not just for the 100 selected by this reddit user. Check it out!
- Harvard University Press has announced that their extensive library of books is now free on various eBook sites. You may need access to some of the eBook sites, but all Harvard Press books are free there until June 30th.
- Project MUSE has a HUGE range of eBooks available for free download.
- John Hopkins Press have made their publications available through Project Muse.
Tip #8: Do activities with your children (see below)
With school closed, it makes sense that your kids are gonna get BORED. When you have time, be sure to include them in any of the above activities – but just in case, we’ve also created a full section below with ways to keep them happy and healthy.
6 Tips To Keep Kids Entertained
School’s out! And let’s be honest, that can mean a handful at home. Thankfully, this is also an opportunity to connect with your children and keep their learning going in a positive way. You can BOTH benefit from all the activities below!
Tip #1: Keep their learning going – but don’t feel pressured! Let your child take control.
Experts say parents shouldn’t feel they have to replace their child’s teacher. Most parents are not equipped to provide education the way schools are, so don’t stress yourself. Just listen to your children and hear their needs above all else.
According to UC San Diego education studies professor Alison Wishard Guerra, parents “should focus first on making sure their children feel safe and that their basic needs are taken care of.”
“What schools normally do in a six-hour day can be done in two hours at home,” she said. School days include lunches, recess, class transition and general downtime, so don’t feel like you need to provide even close to a 6-hour school session at home. An hour or two a day is plenty, especially if you’re able to offer one-on-one time.
Another important point: “Kids learn best when they drive their own learning, rather than adults,” said Guerra. “Creating safe spaces for children to become bored and become comfortable with taking charge of their own learning can be good for their cognitive development and academic development.”
No matter what, you should be clear about the reason why you’re continuing learning at home. Children appreciate knowing the purpose of their education, so don’t hesitate to explain it. Reasons like “because we want you to be up to date when you’re back at school” or “because we want you to choose some topics that you’re curious about” are much better than “because we said so”.
Tip #2: Schedule some digital museum visits
Many museums are offering free “virtual tours” of their galleries while they’re closed to the public. It’s a great way to keep the learning going while allowing your child to take control of what they want to learn.
Tip #3: Dust off the board games
Nothing slays boredom like an engaging board game. Try scheduling a game night, and let your child pick the game – they’ll be more likely to engage.
Tip #4: Cook together
Who knows? Maybe your youngster is a Michelin chef in the making. Check out our article on delicious meals you can create with non-perishables for inspiration!
Tip #5: Tell and/or read stories to each other
If you’re feeling creative, try telling stories to each other. Start with one of you as the main character, and don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from the current situation.
If you’re drawing a blank, kickstart the idea machine with some of these classic stories.
Tip #6: Do some arts and crafts
You’d be surprised by what you can create with things lying around the house. If you happen to have some art supplies, even better!
Here’s a list of interesting projects you can do at home. Of course, the best are the ones you come up with using your imagination… but we won’t blame you for getting started with some of the brilliant ideas in that article.
That’s all for us today. We hope you’ve already found some of your own ways to stay optimistic during this uncertain time. And if you have ideas to add to this list, please help us all out by sharing them in the comments below!