It’s official. ‘Social distancing’ has been added to our dictionaries and is fast-expanding our parameters of personal space. This practice of maintaining a greater than usual distance between ourselves and other people is, of course, intended to keep us safe. But as lives and lifestyles drastically change, feelings of stress, anxiety and isolation can emerge.
Granted, nothing good can be said about the driving cause behind our new preventative measures. But for many of us now largely housebound (the resounding advice from medical experts is, after all, ‘stay home’) a glinting silver lining has shone through. All of a sudden, we’ve found ourselves in possession of something long believed extinct – spare time.
The question is, what do we do with it?
In the spirit of maintaining some sanity (and steering well clear of the 24-hour news cycle) we’ve rounded up 15 activities to keep you distracted, productive and in good mental health while practicing social distancing. Let’s get cracking…
1. Do something for someone else
Research has shown that volunteering gives us a sense of connectedness, boosts wellbeing and reduces anxiety, so now is the perfect time to lend a (properly washed) hand to your community members who are unwell or less able to get out and about. Can’t leave your house? Donate money to a local charity or food bank.
Why not whip up a flyer for your neighbors’ letterboxes to let them know you’re available to help? The Coral and White Illustrated Heart Volunteer Flyer and Blue Illustrated Graphic Volunteer Flyer templates will do the trick.
2. Bust out some exercise
We all know that physical exercise is an excellent stress reducer and immunity booster, and while many gyms are currently off limits, there are a bounty of fitness apps and free exercise videos on YouTube to get you sweating. Don’t forget to crank up your favourite workout playlist.
Get your friends and followers in on the action by hosting an online dance party or exercise session. Spread the word with a customized Neon Blue and Pink Dancing Party Instagram Post or Blue Class Photo International Day of Yoga Poster template.
3. Join an e-book club
Books are good for general brain health. They also do wonders for our imagination and transport us into other people’s worlds and faraway places (very welcome during a travel freeze). Joining an e-book club, like Reese’s Book Club or Oprah’s Book Club, will expand your reading repertoire, keep those pages turning and connect you with fellow bookworms.
Launch your own e-book club with a little help from the Yellow Tea and Books Minimalist Tea Party Morning Facebook Post and Red Blue Book Club School Pattern Flyer templates.
4. Share positive affirmations
Less time on-the-go and more time in our heads makes us more likely to simmer on worries and spiral into negative thinking. Visible cues can be helpful in redirecting our thoughts, so spread some good vibes by surrounding yourself and family with positive and motivational affirmations (Post-its are your friend).
Share a much-needed pick me up with the Sky and Clouds Good Morning Quotes and Bisque and White Traditional Life Quote Instagram Post templates.
5. Send a love note
As we can’t physically gather, many of our relationships have been rendered long-distance. Let your loved ones know you’re thinking about them with a thoughtful email, heart-felt text or extra-special hand-written note. Most importantly, don’t let important occasions slip by without celebration.
Send a virtual hug with the Gainsboro Silly Woman Glitter and Gold General Greeting Birthday Card and the White Minimalist Handwritten Mother's Day Personal Card.
6. Brush up your resume
Your job may or may not be in jeopardy (here’s hoping for the latter) but regardless, it pays to have an up-to-date, standout CV at your disposal for when that dream gig comes a-knockin’. Focussing on your accomplishments and successes to date is also a nice little wellbeing booster.
7. Work on that side hustle
Let’s be reasonable. A global pandemic is pressing enough, so don’t kill yourself trying to get a new business or personal project off the ground before normality resumes. Baby steps – like registering your domain name, nutting out a business plan or playing with some logo concepts – can help you feel motivated and more positive about the future.
Designing a business card can make your idea a reality. Try the Blue and Pink Illustrative Beauty and Fashion Business Card or Monochrome Leaves Creative Writer Business Card template on for size.
8. Plant or bake something
Gardening and baking are both as therapeutic as they are gratifying. Hand-busying hobbies like these gently force us to be present in the moment, or ‘mindful’ (hot tip: ‘mindfulness’ is a proven anxiety buster). Add to that, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be rewarded for your efforts with cheerful blooms, home-grown fruit and veggies or fresh-baked goods.
Care to share your skills? Customize the Orange Baking Class YouTube Thumbnail and Cacti Plant Propagating Succlents Youtube Thumbnail templates for an online how-to or tutorial.
9. Be ‘social’
It’s not without its flaws (*ahem* addictiveness) but at times like these we are lucky that social media allows us to maintain connections and support networks. Facebook and Instagram are currently buzzing with live chats, events, interviews – even concerts. Get around them, or hold an online gathering of your own.
Want to spark some conversation via Instagram? Take the White Ask Me Personal Instagram Story and Black and Yellow Emoji Encircle Images Interactive Instagram Story templates for a spin.
10. Update your website or portfolio
Often we’re so busy doing our work that our methods of sharing and promoting it (and potentially attracting new customers and clients) fall to the wayside. This quieter period might be the perfect opportunity to rejig your website or add recent projects to your portfolio.
Freshen up your website with the Scallop Seashell Photographer Portfolio Website and Beige, Pink and Gold Visual Storytelling and Branding Website templates.
11. Meditate (or just rest)
A mere 10 minutes of meditation every day for a month is shown to have significant health benefits – less stress, better sleep and heightened focus, to name a few – and apps like Headspace and buddhify can help you get started. Not feeling it? No problem. Just try and get some daily R&R.
Remind your friends and followers to look after themselves with the Gold, Pink and Blue Shapes Wellness Influencer Facebook Post Set and Brown, Pink and Green Abstract Shapes Wellness Facebook Post Set templates.
12. Do some journaling
Written words are a wonderful way to order your thoughts, clear your mind and put things in perspective. It doesn’t have to be perfect, poetic or grammatically correct, just put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and do a good old brain dump.
13. Make some activities for your kids (or yourself)
Widespread school and childcare closures have made many of us full-time educator-slash-entertainers. Keep little minds busy by introducing drawing, painting and craft projects. No kids? Don’t let that stop you. Arts and crafts are a brilliant stress reliever for adults, too.
Design some worksheets and writing prompt exercises with the Peach Cat & Dog Illustrative Math Game Worksheet and Orange Polka Dots Sentence Starters Writing Prompt Worksheet templates.
14. Unleash your inner creative
Better problem-solving skills, heightened self-awareness and reduced anxiety are just some of the seemingly endless benefits of creativity. It also knows no bounds, with seemingly endless applications (writing, cooking, sketching, singing, sewing, paper mache-ing… whatever tickles your fancy). Struggling to find your spark? Get inspired with a little moodboarding.
15. Tackle your to-do list
There are few things as satisfying as scratching something off a to-do list (which is, in itself, the most simple-yet-effective productivity tool). Now might be the time to tend to those long-neglected tasks and chores that keep finding their way to the bottom of yours.
Generally speaking, activities that find us forming (healthy) habits or learning new skills are golden in times of uncertainty. They keep us productive, stimulated and more adaptable to the ebb and flow of life. Yes, social distancing feels weird – even scary – but it’s comforting to know that we’re all in this together. As thought leader and author Eckhart Tolle once wisely observed, “Some changes look negative on the surface, but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”