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As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, many of us are practicing social distancing and staying home to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Here are some activities you can do to stay busy (and sane).

By: Dr. Cybele Pacheco, family medicine doctor at Geisinger Lewistown

Many of us are off work or working from home, schools and non-essential businesses are closed and social events have been postponed or cancelled these days – it’s all in the name of “flattening the curve,” or slowing down the spread of COVID-19 to avoid overwhelming our hospitals and healthcare workers. 

Now more than ever, it’s strongly recommended that people practice “social distancing,” or the act of increasing physical space between people to prevent the spread of illness.

While social distancing is a great way to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19, staying inside can leave you feeling a little bored, disconnected and stir crazy. If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone.

Here are some activities to keep you busy while you’re at home:

1. Go outside and get some fresh air.

If you haven’t had contact with someone who has COVID-19 and aren’t experiencing any symptoms, it’s perfectly safe to go outside for a walk, jog or hike. In fact, getting outside and spending time in nature can help boost your mood and reduce stress, which is key during trying times.

If you head outside, just be sure to keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. 

2. Move your body.

While it may be tempting to binge-watch your favorite movies and TV shows all day, getting a workout in can also help boost your mood and reduce stress and anxiety. Your favorite local gym or studio’s closed? No problem.

While closed, many gyms and studios are streaming classes online to help keep people active and connected. There are also plenty of fitness apps offering free workouts right now. YouTube is another great source for streaming a variety of workouts.

Not into traditional workouts? Throw on your favorite album or playlist and have a dance party!

3. Escape into a good book.

You know that book or magazine you’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t gotten around to? Now’s the time to pick it up! 

Don’t like reading? Try listening to an audiobook or podcast instead.

4. Connect with others.

Social distancing and self-quarantining at home can leave you feeling lonely and disconnected. To reconnect (while keeping physical distance), schedule a virtual dinner party or hangout via platforms like Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or FaceTime.

You can also call, text or video chat with a family member or friend. The social connection will help boost your mood and help you feel less alone.

Home with a full house? Try having a family night to get everyone out of their rooms, off their phones and connecting. Have a special dinner, work on a puzzle or play card or board games together.

5. Get creative.

Try doing a craft or do-it-yourself project around the house, writing a short story or poem or busting out your art supplies to draw or paint. Not sure where to start? Search for inspiration and tutorials online.

Diving into a project can help keep your hands – and mind – busy.

6. Get a jumpstart on spring cleaning.

While it may not be fun for everyone, it’ll certainly keep you busy! Use this time to deep clean your house, wash your windows, declutter or clean out your overflowing bedroom closet.

Tackling projects around the house can help you feel productive and accomplished.

7. Do what makes you feel good.

During these uncertain and unprecedented times, it’s so important to look after your mental health. Be sure to make time for self-care while social distancing and self-quarantining. This includes:

  • Doing activities that make you happy.
  • Exercising and eating healthy meals.
  • Practicing meditation and mindfulness.
  • Limiting your exposure to social media and news outlets.

Remember, practicing social distancing not only protects ourselves from illness, but also others around us. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus:

We’re here for you and we’ll get through this challenging time together.

Next steps:

Play "Shelter in place" bingo
Visit our coronavirus resource center for the latest updates
Read our coronavirus FAQs
Worried about coronavirus? Don’t run to the ER. Here’s why.

Young woman sitting indoors on a couch at home, reading a book.

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