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25 Things to Do While Social Distancing During a Global Pandemic

What with COVID-19 (coronavirus) having just been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, it has become more important than ever for us to work together to “flatten the curve” (slow down the spread of the virus) so as not to completely overwhelm the capacity of health care systems. And by “work together,” of course I mean “get it done but only while placing ourselves at least six feet away from other humans.”

COVID-19 is spread by respiratory secretions and possibly from touching contaminated surfaces, so lots of hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds while not touching our faces is our best bet when it comes to doing our best not to catch it. Extra disinfecting around the house and in public when possible (i.e. grocery cart handles) helps a lot, too. Most coronavirus cases are mild in generally healthy people, but older folks and people of all ages who have compromised immune systems are currently in danger.

That’s why recently, social distancing—the cancellation of events and other large gatherings of people, closing buildings and schools, asking employees to work from home when possible—has officially been recommended.

So let’s say you finish your work very quickly at home because you don’t have all the distractions of the office. And let’s say you love to read or binge-watch TV shows but don’t want to do that ALL the time. Or let’s say you don’t even like reading or watching TV at all. What’s a person to do with a sudden windfall of at-home time? Here are twenty-five ideas to get you started:

  1. Try some new recipes. Your family will (probably) thank you.
  2. Pick up that craft project that you started twenty years ago and last discovered on the floor in the back corner of your closet. Who cares if it’s clearly outdated? Finish it.
  3. Call a friend. Or two. Or three. Catching up verbally is so much more fun than texting (it is for me, anyway).
  4. Speaking of your closet, clean it out and/or organize everything so it makes sense. And then do another closet. And maybe your bathroom cabinets while you’re at it.
  5. Write some letters, old-school style. The purpose and length is up to you, obviously. Some options are: a quick “Hi! I’m thinking of you!” on a cute postcard, a more elaborate letter on stationery, perhaps thanking someone (tips in my friend Nancy’s book, here, which you can have delivered right to your porch!) or taking some time to jot down a favorite memory you shared with someone special.
  6. Clean up your inbox: unsubscribe from all of the stuff you frown at each time it pops up in email and then maybe even set up file folders to organize yourself there.
  7. Dig through your purse for receipts that include surveys and actually take them. You might get a free burger or a discount on your next visit. While you’re digging, you may as well finish the job: clean out your purse!
  8. Go through photos, the long-ago printed ones and the digital ones, discard the bad ones and the doubles, organize them in boxes or albums, and maybe even make some digital photo books. That sunflower picture up there? It’s going into a Shutterfly album full of my favorite pictures that I’ve taken while traveling.
  9. Clean out your refrigerator. (You know it’s been forever.) While you’re at it, clean out your pantry by tossing everything that has an expired date on it.
  10. Take that luxurious bubble bath you always wish you had time for.
  11. Give yourself a manicure and/or a pedicure. Add in a face mask. Instant spa day!
  12. Get some sleep! You need it!
  13. Start a journal or a daily gratitude list.
  14. Update your resume. Perhaps you’d like to find a new job, one that allows you to work remotely all the time?
  15. Learn a new skill on YouTube, like origami.
  16. Make a vision board so you’ll have a plan for your goals and dreams that you can see in full color.
  17. Exercise! If you don’t have equipment at home, go for walks in the neighborhood or find workout instruction on YouTube (I do Zumba at home about five days a week, accompanied by the playlists I’ve made on YouTube!).
  18. Color! You don’t need to purchase a coloring book; you can download pages all over the place.
  19. Go through your belongings to see what you can donate or sell at a yard sale once spring is here for good.
  20. Play card games or board games with your family, especially Monopoly if you’re into that because there’s hardly EVER enough time for Monopoly.
  21. Start making a list of gift ideas for the holiday season. This way, you’ll be able to look out for sales between now and December, if you’re the “shove gifts in the closet” type.
  22. Create a monthly budget spreadsheet if you don’t have one already, to see how you’re spending your money and what you need to do in order to reach financial goals (like those holiday gifts).
  23. Rearrange your bookshelves by color, genre, or author.
  24. Listen to a new podcast or your favorite artist’s new album, from start to finish.
  25. Research your local area within 50 miles and plan a day trip or staycation for when we can finally feel good again about getting out there with others.

Hopefully, before we know it, we won’t have to worry as much about coronavirus—but we’ll still wash our hands often, for goodness’ sake—and we’ll be back to the busy hustle-bustle of life away from home. For now though, let’s do our part to keep everyone healthy and safe…and have a little fun or get things done in the process.

(By the way, do you need to find some silver linings in all of this that come from OUTSIDE of your house, without actually going anywhere? I’ve got you covered there, too. Click here for some ways people are creatively connecting and teaching and learning and moving these days.)