5 ways to stay sane while socially isolating yourself
By Isabelle Bennett, Features Editor
Someday, we’ll sit around the coffee table and tell our children about that time an unprecedented, relentless virus — formally known as COVID-19 — changed our lives. They’ll stare wide-eyed as we tell them how one person’s crappy run-in with a bat at a Chinese market cancelled our trips, our classes, our social lives; or how it shut down daycares, libraries, and Italy for Pete’s sake; or how it cleared out movie theatres, churches and grocery-store shelves.
Then, in solemn, hushed tones, we’ll tell them about the thousands — hopefully not more — of people it killed. But in order to have this conversation, we can’t be among those thousands — and right now, that means social distancing.
The importance of social distancing isn’t what this article is about, though there are many resources like this one to explain the intent behind it. Instead, this is meant to acknowledge that — though necessary and maybe even appealing in its state of novelty — social distancing can take a negative toll on our mental and physical health if we don’t keep busy. So here are a few ideas of solo activities to help us all stay sane in the midst of all of this.
Start a home gym
On March 15, the City of Calgary announced the closing of all city owned and operated fitness facilities and pools along with a state of local emergency. A lot of private gyms — along with the one in my apartment — have also closed indefinitely. This precaution makes a lot of sense, especially since facilities like these have been called “high risk” places to contract something due to the sharing of equipment and humid — cough cough, sweaty — atmosphere. But working out remains a great way to manage anxiety and keep your body healthy, and it can be done right at home. You don’t need a Peloton or treadmill, all you need is access to Youtube or an app to guide you through workout routines in the comfort of your humble abode. I like following Yoga with Adrienne or the Nike Training app, which allows you to browse workouts by muscle groups, workout type or equipment. You can even add a little weight with household items like bags of rice or cans of soup.
Get some fresh air
While quarantining might require you to be confined to your own home, social distancing just means limiting the number of people you come into close contact with. You can still go outside! Walking is a great way to get some fresh air, sunlight and exercise. Studies show that walking can also relieve symptoms of anxiety, increase creativity and improve your mood. Putting on some hopeful tunes or a podcast (like one of these true-crime gems) is one way to spice up a solo stroll and clear your head of everything going on for just a little while.
Marie-Kondo your house
There’s never been a better excuse to spend some time at home cleaning out your proverbial “junk drawer.” Maybe it’s your pantry, your refrigerator, your bathroom drawers — here’s your cue to clean it out and create a system that sparks some necessary joy. I personally plan to take on a small project everyday, including digital projects like categorizing my emails or cleaning my hard drive. Try to dispose of items that no longer serve you in sustainable ways, like donating, selling or recycling them. If it’s your pantry that needs a refresh, consider donating the nonperishable goods you know you won’t eat to the food bank — people are in need right now.
Pursue an interest
A disclaimer: if you’re interested in travelling or watching pro-sports, that’s probably not worth pursuing right now. But if you’re like me and have a ukulele collecting dust under your bed, tune it up. Gather the paint supplies sitting in your desk drawer and create something. Write about your current experience in your journal. Watch a video explaining that crochet technique you’ve been curious about. Learn how to give yourself a manicure or bake something unfamiliar. There’s no wrong answers — except maybe trying to master every song on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock like my partner.
Start a digital book/podcast/movie club
Connection is so important for well-being, and it’s not easy on our emotions to stay away from people we care about. Thankfully, technology makes it possible for us to speak with people without needing to be physically near them. With COVID-19 dominating people’s lives and conversations, talking can be taxing if there’s not something different to talk about. But if you and your friends have Hoopla, or Netflix or some podcast streaming service, there’s lots worth discussing. Choose a piece of media for everyone to consume on their own, then meet together digitally for a discussion. Next week, let someone else pick something to discuss. Not only will this help you enjoy some time together not thinking about the virus, it will also keep you feeling mentally challenged.
This list doesn’t even come close to covering all of possible social isolation-friendly activities, but hopefully it helps give some ideas. Have more suggestions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org