You may have transitioned to working from home, or you have chosen to voluntary distance yourself. Smart move. Social distancing is a proven method to slow, or flatten, the curve.
Boredom can be a problem, or you may worry that your work will take over your home routine. Globally, officials encourage social distancing, keeping a personal “bubble” of 6 feet or more from others, and avoiding public spaces where large groups gather.
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But being separated from peers and family can take a toll on mental health. It’s important to stay connected to loved ones through technology, stay healthy and create a new routine for the new lifestyle. Here are some ways to keep yourself healthy and happy:
Now is a perfect time to get outside and discover the great big world (and the very tiny ones) around you. A 2018 report found that spending time in natural surroundings reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type II diabetes.
If you can’t travel to one of the country’s magnificent national parks, go into your own backyard and look for tiny creatures, like indigenous land snails or pill bugs. Spend some time under the canopy of trees – forest bathing is good for your health.
And if the backyard is still too far away to consider, 30 minutes of quiet on the balcony or patio can calm the wildest of hearts, and make you more creative.
Learn how to play an instrument
You may have complained that you always wanted to play the drums in elementary school. Well, now is the time, and you can learn in your own home even if you don’t have a drum set. There are hundreds of YouTube and online classes that teach you how to play the ukelele, the piano, and even the spoons. Be ready to jam with your friends in just a few weeks.
Learn to dance
We hear you – you wish you could dance like the glittery stars on TV. Well, we can’t guarantee that you will reach that level, but you can have lots of fun trying. And you really don’t even need a dance partner to learn how to salsa, get a buzz from the Electric Slide, or waltz with the bride at the next wedding venue.
Dancing is great exercise and can even have anti-aging benefits. Encourage your friends to learn the same dance. Push the furniture against the wall and get ready to party!
Start your workout
Now is the time to step up – aerobic step, that is. You can find just the right exercise coach and routine with a short search on the internet. Many of the workout concepts can be segmented and scattered throughout the day. FitnessBlender.com offers free online videos with instruction on a variety of exercises.
Start an art journal
That beautiful but bare journal that languishes on your desk? Now you have the time to fill it. The free Make More Magic 30-day email course takes you through the steps of creating a daily journal, which can help you discover your own strengths and change your life.
If you like to doodle, an art journal may be more enticing. Forget the intimidation that elegant and empty journal brings. Learn to overcome the fear factor and jump into art journaling with Kristal Norton. Or find a course or video that inspires you to write or draw.
Catch up on your reading by signing into your public library’s online program. Charge the battery on your Kindle or Nook and start downloading hundreds of free ebooks that are available on Amazon and other sites.
You can read the classics, bestselling fiction and non-fiction titles, and self-published authors. Try a new-to-you genre: if you don’t like it, you can simply delete it. Reading can take you on amazing adventures, without leaving your chair!
Prepare your garden
Now is the perfect time to turn the soil in a dormant garden, add compost or mulch a flower bed. Mel Bartholomew used his engineering skills to create square-foot gardening, which is an efficient way to use space for maximum harvest. This is my favorite way to garden, and it reduces the amount of time you need to weed the space.
If you only have a balcony or window, don’t worry. You can still garden, but you need to pay attention to weight limits of a balcony or deck. Balcony gardens or rooftop gardens can be a a bright spot on a cityscape. Order seeds, seedlings or supplies online.
Learn to cook
If you get lost in the kitchen, and have trouble remembering the settings on the toaster, then take some time to learn the basics. Cooking is an important skill. That doesn’t mean you want or need to master the most intricate recipes or start ordering fancy cookware.
Focus on a few simple recipes. Pick one entree recipe that you can make in a hurry, and one that you can offer to a guest. For instance, Food and Wine offers a list of 10 simple recipes every beginning cook should know.
For easy recipes that will impress, try Gnocchi with Lemon and Chive Pesto, or Rachel Ray’s You Won’t Be Single for Long Vodka Cream Pasta. Just pick one.
Do a search for recipes using things that are already in your pantry. You will be surprised at the variety of recipes using a can of tomatoes and a cup of rice. Once you feel more comfortable wielding a knife and cutting board, move on to fancier dishes.
Learn a second language
As technology allows us to break down the walls of isolation, we are able to reach out to people in other countries. What better time to learn how to communicate more effectively? Learn how to speak conversational Italian, Tagalog, Spanish and even sign language through free apps or videos.
Boost your work skills
Have you wanted to flesh out your CV with more skills? Take a class on SEO, goal-setting, coding, or one of hundreds of business-focused courses on Udemy.com. EdX offers a selection of free courses with a paid option to receive a certificate. Harvard offers free class audits though its online site.
Meditation is good medicine. What better time than now to introduce a meditation routine into your lifestyle? A study on mindfulness meditation found that it reduced the effects of stress and anxiety. It can also help with feelings of loneliness and improve self-esteem.
Look for free course on meditation such as this free guided meditation course on Udemy.
Free mindfulness apps like this one on Headspace is available for Apple or Android users. Or practice Tai Chi for five minutes per day with this free instructional.
For more Living on the Cheap articles:
12 ways to kill time without using technology
Learn a foreign language for free
Free educational websites for kids of all ages