By: Ayesha Amin
The Coronavirus outbreak has very quickly changed our everyday lives at a speed that can feel hard to keep up with. Social distancing has become to turn of phrase to help flatten the curve, as we know it spreads through close contact with someone who has it. Social distancing has been recommended, and in some countries, enforced by governments, to try to help delay the spread of the virus. Along with social distancing, if you feel any symptoms or are part of a high-risk category for the virus, you must also self-isolate to help keep yourself and others, safe. For many of us, isolating ourselves is really difficult, and our relationships may rely on time we spend with each other, which is challenged when isolating or quarantining ourselves for an unknown time period. In an increasingly social world, this may be challenging. While the whole world is self-isolating, we need to think creatively about ways we can remain social, active, and engaged, while isolating ourselves.
If you have a Netflix account (or use your relative’s) you can download the Netflix Party extension that allows you watch Netflix remotely with your friends together, but apart. Missing your movie nights with the BFFs? That’s basically what Netflix Party is, but virtually.
Video Call Friends/Family
With technology these days, staying in touch with loved ones while isolating, is much easier than it would have been even a decade ago. Apps on your phone such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, all have message capacity and video call capacity, for free.
Host a Virtual Trivia Night
Using teleconferencing software such as Zoom, groups of friends can meet online to do what they might do in person, but virtually. So many people love trivia games even when they’re not very good at it. Why no host a ‘virtual trivia night’ game online and invite friends/family to join and have some fun with each other? It’s sure to bring you some laughs and maybe take you out of the panic of doom and gloom you might be feeling the rest of the day. Here are a few free quiz website that you can find guides and templates at 1, 2 and 3.
Learn a Language
Why not use all this extra time to actually learn one of the languages you have been saying you’d practice for years? Some free websites that offer language courses include HelloTalk, DuoLingo, Babbel. As a bonus, when all of this is over, you’ll be able to be extra social, and in an extra language!
Learn Other Things
E-learning and free classes took off years ago, but this could be the time to take all the classes you have been interested in for ages. Website such as Coursera, Class Central, Alison and edX offer courses on a huge range of topics, often offered by universities around the world. You can take most at your own pace, and some are available at all times, while others have particular dates for registration.
Fancy playing some games to occupy that – likely overthinking and anxious – head? You can play games online such as video games, games with friends, and even board games!
Audiobooks and Podcasts
Podcasts and Audiobooks are decisively non-social. They tend to be listened to on your phone or computer, with earphones in. They are a fantastic way to keep yourself entertained, especially if you are a multi-tasker; listen while you clean, knit, do a short workout, have a bath.
Podcasts have been a huge hit over the last few years, with people often listening to them from their phones while commuting or traveling. They’re audio files that each podcast releases every so often (daily, weekly, monthly, less regularly). There are millions of podcasts that range in type from self-help, true crime, the news, meditation, therapy, imagination, history – you name it, there’s probably a podcast on it. There are many free apps on different smartphones that you can use to listen to podcasts, from Apple Music, to Spotify or one of several apps on your phone – just type in ‘podcast’ in your app store and take your pick.
Audiobooks have also become more popular in recent times. They are books, but read aloud, that the listener can listen to, rather than read. Also a popular choice for commuters and travelers, audiobooks can be listened to on your computer or phone. Audible, one of the leading audiobook companies, has made hundreds of audiobooks available to download for free to help self-isolating people during the time of Coronavirus. If you haven’t tried audiobooks, this may be your time to give it a go! There’s a tonne of free books for kids, especially.
If you have many books you never found the time to read – now’s your chance. You can also download free e-books here.
All those field trips or cultural trips you haven’t attended since childhood? Revisit them virtually with virtual tours of museums and zoos being made available online for free.
There are many fitness instructors offering free virtual fitness classes that you can join. Many fitness apps are offering free trials that you can try out during isolation:
Peleton, Downdog, Core Power Yoga, Planet Fitness, and Gold’s Gym, are just some apps and gyms that are offering free trials or workouts on their apps or by live stream during this time to help you stay fit and healthy, at home.
The YMCA has also launched YMCA360, where they share dozens of free fitness classes online that can be followed in your own time.
Virtual Dance Party
In such a time of uncertainty and fear, meditation can help calm your nerves and fears, and be in the here and now for a while, rather than focusing on the unknown future of the world. If you’re new to meditation, you can find numerous guided meditation videos on YouTube. You can also download meditation apps, such as Simple Habit, Calm, Headspace, Breethe.
These times are unprecedented and we don’t know how long restrictions will last. Finding new ways to entertain ourselves is important, but as our social relationships are so important, it’s important to find ways to stay in touch with your loved ones that you are not able to see during isolation. Remember to reach out, even via text or messenger, as everyone is feeling a little bit alone, a little bit scared, and a little bit of kindness and love goes a long way. Take deep breaths, wash your hands, and remember – we’ll get through this.