As the novel coronavirus spreads health experts continue to recommend that people stay home and practice social distancing. Social distancing can help flatten the curve and slow down the transmission of the virus. As people stay in their homes, the chances of them potentially infecting another person decreases, but stress levels may increase with people feeling overwhelmed inside not knowing how long this pandemic will last. While it is a privilege to be home in a safe environment during such a time, many people are having difficulty with changes like balancing work from home, childcare, and limited social interaction.
Social withdrawals have resulted in many relying on technology to interact with their friends, family, and significant others. As in-person gatherings are being discouraged, the era of technology has enabled many to gather and connect online instead. Outside of video calls, technology allows us to watch movies in sync, coordinate workouts, play games together, and even make visits to the zoo! (Virtually, of course. Don’t forget we’re staying indoors!) Lucky for you, Daily Kos has put together some fun things you can do with your pals online so that you don't run out of ideas!
Have a virtual movie night:
Personally, I have always preferred phone calls over text. Having friends all over the country I have done many activities people enjoy doing in person over the phone. Even before “Netflix Party” was the new thing, I would coordinate when to watch a show or movie with friends so we could chat about it together. Now this new extension lets you do that all in one place. And the biggest perk? Only one of you needs to have a Netflix account. Netflix Party, a free Google Chrome plugin allows you to watch movies with anyone online from one Netflix account once you share your link with them. To keep things simple, here’s a video on how it works.
Don’t have Netflix? No problem. Watch videos with your friends through screen share with Squad.
Take a creative class:
Ever want to try painting or dessert decorating? Doing creative activities with others is a fun way to build your relationship. I actually signed up for a paint night in April months in advance for a friend's birthday. Instead of sulking and canceling that plan altogether, we decided to make it digital. We came across some online painting classes and decided we could all hop online and take one together at the same time. While we won't be able to laugh at one another’s work in person we can share it digitally. Brit+Co, a media company is offering free online classes until March 31. The company has great beginner classes for painting, baking, crafts, and even coding! Just use the code SELFCARE at checkout and the price of the class is waived. Another great place to look is The Know-How Series by Frolic, this site consists of both creative writing and social media branding classes that are now free due to efforts of encouraging social distancing.
Explore a museum or national park:
Are you a history junkie? I know I am. I have a bucket list of places I’d like to see and museums I’d love to visit. While it’s not the same experience, it’s amazing how much you can learn and see from the comfort of your home. Multiple museums, including the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, are offering free online experiences that allow viewers to learn about their current exhibits. Similarly, you can take a virtual tour in more than 30 U.S. national parks through Google Arts & Culture. Who said you can’t continue exploring if you’re home?
Watch your favorite animals live:
Ever wonder what the animals you love do when no one is watching? Well, here’s your chance to see what happens behind the scenes. Zoos worldwide are live-streaming their exhibits for you to watch from the comfort of your home. Here’s some footage from a penguin cam.
Learn to cook:
Do you love cooking? As someone who loves to try new foods, I am an avid Tasty and Tastemade video watcher. I’ve held multiple cooking parties at my house and now with social distancing in place the tradition continues but via FaceTime. Outside of YouTube videos, a few chefs and cooks are even offering free classes online to help you try new things during this quarantine. Spend time cooking with your friends online, share recipes and bask in the perk of not having extra dishes to do.
Workout together to keep each other accountable:
Get active. Despite having to stay in, it is important to keep your body moving and active if you are able to. While there are plenty of free workout videos available on YouTube some workout programs are free for the time being to allow those who may miss visiting the gym some comfort. Planet Fitness is streaming at-home workouts for free on its Facebook page daily at 7 PM ET. YMCA 360 also offers free online exercise classes like yoga, weightlifting, and boxing. Just because you can’t visit the gym doesn’t mean you have to stop having a gym buddy. Make a schedule with your friends and keep one another accountable for at-home workouts, or even better do them together through a video call.
Learn a new style of dance:
Whether you consider yourself a dancer or not, dance can relieve stress for some and even be a fun way to express yourself. For months my friends and I have been trying to coordinate when we will meet to prepare a dance for another friend’s wedding. Now, with all of us home, this seems to be the perfect time for us to choreograph and practice. Through Skype and Google Hangouts, we plan to pick songs and watch one another to perfect dances we see online as well as share dances we have created. As a South Asian, my culture is full of dance and music. I am using this time to revisit my roots as a form of self-care and to learn new dances and moves. I love browsing YouTube for dance lessons, one of my go-tos is Dance with Madhuri, a free online dance program that breaks down Bollywood songs and steps.
Dance can even be a great workout. It may seem like it’s something you have to do in person but when you have people practicing the same routine nationwide, quarantine or not, you may be relying on technology to connect. Learning a new dance or just having fun with music can be a great stress reliever to share with those you care about. Some dance studios are even offering virtual or live stream lessons for free or at a low cost, including my favorite BFunk.
Play some board games:
Have some board games lying around? If you and a friend have the same board game, you can connect with each other and play via video chat. As long as the other player is not a cheater, there shouldn't be a problem. In addition to using video chat to play games, many board games are now available online through apps or streaming platforms, such as Monopoly, Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan.
Just call them:
Back to the basics. Don’t forget to check up on your friends! Sometimes just a short video call is enough to make someone’s day. Even before this pandemic, since my best friend and I are only able to see each other once a year in person we plan virtual dates. During these dates we ignore all calls and texts and just block out time for each other. We dress up like we’re going out or for the occasion and just catch up like we would in person. Apps like FaceTime, Squad, Marco Polo, and Zoom allow you to add multiple people to a video call. As author Tom McNeal wrote in Far Far Away, “Distance means so little when a person matters so much.”
What other ways are you keeping in touch with your loved ones during this time?