Creative Ways to De-stress and Stay Occupied during COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, it has completely transformed our normal routines. Though we’re mostly confined to our homes, there are still ways to stay active and maintain social connections throughout the upcoming weeks. We have compiled a few ideas for activities and ways to stay connected with people to help you take care of your health and well-being during these trying times.

The following list is not exhaustive, but we hope it fuels your imagination. Please note, MagnaCare has no affiliation with, nor implies endorsement of, the organizations and resources listed below. The resources below do not substitute for medical advice. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider if you are concerned about your physical and/or mental health and well-being.

Ideas and activities to try:

  • De-stress and practice mindfulness. The anxiety caused by the uncertainty of this pandemic is understandable. Take breaks from news on COVID-19 and exercise your mind by starting or finishing the craft project you’d set aside, cooking something new or special, reading those books you’ve been meaning to get to, tackling that 1000 piece puzzle you bought a year ago, tending to an indoor garden, or trying any other pursuit that you enjoy. Meditation and mindfulness practices are another way to practice self-care, by encouraging you to become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and breathing. Here are just a few of the free tools available to you now, to help you stay calm and resilient during this crisis:
    • Deepak Chopra and Oprah are currently offering 21 free days of meditation.
    • The Mindful Movement channel on You Tube offers free meditations, yoga classes, and Pilates classes.
  • Stay physically active. Physical exercise can not only help you stay fit, but it can also help you cope with stress. Ask your gym or studio if it is offering live video streaming options. Check out fitness companies and apps that you’ve always wanted to try and see if they are offering a free trial or extending their typical free trial period for online classes. A couple of the companies offering on-demand or live streaming classes today:
    • Orange Theory – Daily 30 minute workouts using household objects.
    • Barry’s Bootcamp – Tune into Barrys Instagram for twice-daily 20 minute at-home workouts on Instagram Live.
    • Nike Training Club – Nike has made all of its Training Club premium home workouts free until further notice.
  • Connect with friends and family. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t gather with friends and family for birthdays, coffee, or game night. In fact, staying connected, even if it’s through virtual interactions, is more important than ever to minimize the emotional strain of isolation. There’s no lack of apps and services that allow you to meet up in groups, each of which offers unique capabilities and limitations. Here are just a few:
    • Add up to 32 callers using Group Facetime on Apple devices.
    • Whatsapp video group chats can be made over Wi-Fi with up to four callers.
    • Go face-to-face with Facebook Messenger with up to six callers on video chat.
    • Chat on video with up to 50 people on Skype.
    • Google Duo supports up to eight person group video calls.
    • Leave video messages and revisit conversations on Marco Polo.
    • The Houseparty app allows you to put together a virtual party with up eight guests with whom you can chat and play games and quizzes.
    • If you’re missing your movie nights with friends, host a watch party, and try the Chrome plugin Netflix Party which lets you group chat while watching a show together.
  • Learn a new language. Picking up a new skill can help your pass the time and keep you mentally active.
    • Duolingo: A language learning app that’s free to use with upgrades at a cost.
    • Babbel: K-12 and college students can use the learning app for free for three months.
  • Fill your craving for culture. Visit your favorite museum’s website to see what they are offering to the public during this crisis. Several museums and galleries are showcasing their collections online, such as those listed below.
  • Travel around the world without stepping outside.
    • Take virtual tours of iconic sites and landmarks around the world.
  • Couch surf the outdoors.
  • Peek into zoos and aquariums. See what your favorite animals are up to behind closed doors.
    • Live webcam focused on the Georgia Aquarium’s habitats for underwater animals such as beluga whales and sea lions.
    • Live videos of some of the San Diego Zoo’s favorite animals, including elephants, tigers, and more.
  • Take an online course. Online learning is a productive way for you to pass the time, learn something new, or accelerate your career. Access free and paid courses from top universities across the country through online learning platforms like Coursera or Edx. Several of their courses allow you to audit (follow along for free). If you’d like a verified course certificate and/or want to participate in assignments and receive a grade, fees may apply.
  • Distance learning for your kids. With schools closed for weeks or months, you may be finding yourself in the difficult position of working, parenting, and teaching all in the same space. Here are some resources to keep your children entertained and learning something new:
    • Check with your local library to see if it is one of the many that are streaming virtual story hours.
    • Scholastic’s Learn at Home websiteoffers up 20 days of articles, stories, videos, and learning challenges that can be completed anytime, in any order.
    • PBS KIDSand PBS LearningMedia are offering tools to help support learning at home, including educational videos and games, and skill-building offline activities.
    • The Ranger Rick children’s magazine of the National Wildlife Federation is making its website free to all visitors through the end of June.
    • Audible, the audiobook service from Amazon, is currently offering a collection of its stories for free to stream for all ages, including children’s titles and adult literary classics.
  • Free meals for those in need. For Long Island and New Jersey families and healthcare workers in need, check out this list of restaurants stepping up to support their communities during the pandemic.
  • Access counseling and emotional support. This is unquestionably a difficult and unpredictable time for you and your loved ones. If you need help or know some who does, contact healthcare professionals in your provider network, or check out the CDC’s website, which lists tips as well as national helplines. Both the NY and NJ Department of Health offer counseling and support services to help its residents cope with the strain of COVID-19.
    • New Yorkers can call the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 1.844.863.9314 for mental health counseling.
    • The New Jersey Mental Health Cares Helpline offers telephone counseling, emotional support, information, and assistance in helping individuals to get behavioral health services. Call the toll-free, confidential number: 866-202-HELP (4357)

For more information and resources on COVID-19, visit the CDC, the New York State Department of Health, or the New Jersey Department of Health. You can also find information on MagnaCare’s  coronavirus resource hub.