We’re living in an era where staying at home has suddenly become crucial. So, if you’ve spent the last few days in a health crisis-induced state of isolation, plugged into Netflix like it’s the Matrix, and you’re starting to feel a little, well, out of touch with the real world, here are some other things you can do instead.
Learn to Play an Instrument
Research shows there are many benefits to learning an instrument: stress reaction, improved coordination, and enhanced mental agility. In fact, there is no other activity that activates more areas of the brain at once than playing an instrument.
Learning to play the piano is the easiest and most practical place to start when learning an instrument. A piano is laid out in a way that helps you better understand music theory and it’s easier on your hands than learning to play guitar, for example. Find a cheap, used keyboard in your area, then browse around YouTube for the channel that best suits your learning style and needs. Decide if you want to play classical music or pop, then find that channel. There are many that offer free lessons. Here’s one for those interested in basic lessons and music theory. Music theory can be daunting, so learn to play and have fun before you jump into mastering the circle of fifths.
Learn a Language
Learning a new language is great for your brain, too! Not only that, but it can also increase your job skill set dramatically. Rosetta Stone is an excellent software that teaches language in the same way native speakers learn, visually and fully immersed. Its only drawback is price. Fortunately, Duolingo is there if your budget is more like, “free.” Here are more of our favorite language-learning apps.
Learn to Draw
If you’re a college student or have a city library card, chances are you have free access to Kanopy. Kanopy is a streaming service like Netflix, but has more of a PBS vibe with Criterion films, documentaries, and educational programs featured. There’s a drawing course we like that’s taught by a professor at the University of Washington that offers 18 hours of instruction. If you think you have zero talent as an artist (raises hand), you’ll be amazed at how much you can improve with a little technique and practice. Create your Kanopy account and search for the video collection “How to Draw.”
Learn a New Job Skill
If you’ve always wanted to beef up your job skill set, now’s your chance. Check out LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda) or Udemy. Some of these online classes start at just $9.99 and can sharpen your writing, marketing, project management, and software skills.
Start an Online Book Club
This is really fun! Invite friends from all around the world, pick an e-book, read a chapter, then meet via Zoom or Skype to discuss it. Choose a book that’s light and fun, and have a glass of wine or beer on hand to toast one another. Reading has been proven to increase our empathy, and sharing a drink with friends both near and far is possibly one of the greatest things the internet has given us.
Create Your Own Cookbook and Share It
If cooking is your thing, now’s the time to perfect your recipes and collect them into a shareable PDF. Send it to your friends and family, since most of us are cooking at home right now. Come up with a fun title, then fill it with digital pics of your tasty dishes and you’ll be in full chef mode. Dedicate each recipe to someone special or write its origin story. Sharing
There has never been a better time than now to clean out your closet, garage, drawers, desk, cupboards, etc. Move the couch and vacuum behind it. Wash those dusty curtains. If you have a yard or garden, clean it up with the tools you already have on hand. Cleaning is a great way to be physically active, release stress, and have everything looking and feeling orderly. It’s an actionable way to create order amongst chaos.
Hatha Yoga is a great choice right now because it’s gentle and relaxing. Yoga also improves muscle tone, even though you don’t feel like you’re doing much work. Best of all, you get that post-yoga feeling of tranquility and well-being.
Or, try practicing meditation, especially if you’re having a hard time quieting your worried brain in this stressful time. There are many approaches to meditation, so I recommend trying a few different techniques to see which one works best for you. Even just sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing for 15 minutes can be beneficial.
Many arts organizations are currently putting content online for the public, allowing you to become a virtual visitor to museums and live performances.
Put on your best suit, sip a glass of wine or sherry, and watch an opera at The Metropolitan Opera. Paris Musées, a collection of 14 museums in Paris, has uploaded 100,000 high-res images of their artwork online. Better yet, you can do an online tour of the Louvre or the Guggenheim. Again, enjoy some wine while you’re at it! Or beer. Or whiskey. Or absinthe.
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