10 ways to stay entertained if you're stuck at home by yourself
Advice for folks who live by themselves to deal with the COVID-19 quarantine
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Right now, staying home—or, at the very least, avoiding crowded public spaces and close contact with other people—is the right thing to do. It prevents the spread of germs, which ensures vulnerable people don’t get exposed to COVID-19, but it also has one notable drawback, especially for those who live alone: After some time, it gets boring and lonely.
Perhaps you’ve reached that point now—or, maybe, you got there several days ago. Either way, these things will make being home all by yourself less of a drag.
1. Take a walk
Yes, you can go outside if you’re social distancing—just make sure to keep away from others (a six-foot distance is what the CDC recommends) and wash your hands when you get back home. Try to schedule at least one quick, brisk walk each day. This will help you get some fresh air, get your blood moving, and, most importantly, remind you that there is a real, physical world out there—which is surprisingly easy to forget if you’ve been inside binging Westworld for hours.
2. Do a home workout
Most gyms and workout studios are shuttering for the next few weeks—which could be a point of stress, especially if you rely on exercise to maintain your mental and physical health. But you don’t have to leave your house to get a good workout in. Instead, turn your energy towards fitness-focused apps, YouTube channels, and self-guided workouts.
You can enhance these workouts with tools like resistance bands, a good yoga mat, and dumbbells, but you don’t have to get anything you don’t already have—working with your body weight is more than good enough for now. And, if the weather permits it, you can always go for a jog or bike ride outside.
- Get Fit Simplify resistance bands on Amazon for $12.95
- Get The Reversible yoga mat from Lululemon for $68
- Get Bowflex Selecttech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells for $329
3. Clean and organize everything
You don’t have to go full Marie Kondo (unless you want to), but it’s a great time organize your clothes, clean out the garage, vacuum more, toss old and expired cosmetics, give crevices that rarely see the light of day a good wipe-down, and separate your belongings into things you want to keep and things you want to donate once the quarantine is over. Make it more fun by taking photos to chronicle the weird stuff you find, or by modeling the old outfits in a fashion show of one (before you wash them) to pack them away). Bonus: Your Instagram followers will thank you for sharing.
4. Video chat with friends and family
One of the least surprising side effects of being isolated in a house or apartment is that you start to really, really miss other people. But you can maintain a tether to loved ones located a plane, train, or bus ride away with video calls. Between FaceTime for Apple, Google Hangouts and Duo for Android, and WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger for any internet-connected device, you and your people can figure out the option that’s best for you based on your collected pieces of technology—just make sure you schedule and actually make it happen.
5. Read a book (or several)
One way to make the most of your alone time? Get some reading in. You can use the extra time to tackle those books you never quite got around to—if you’ve had a copy of Anna Karenina sitting on your bookshelf for years, there’s no time like the present to take it down, blow the dust off, and get to work. Or, if 900 pages of 19th century Russian literature isn’t your bag, no one will judge you inside your home for settling down with some fun, frothy romance novels or humorous essay collections as pure escapism. (Or, hey, why not both? You have time.)
Whatever you choose, you have a lot of options when it comes to actually reading them. If you want to buy physical books, consider ordering one from your local independent bookstore. You can also use Overdrive, Libby, and Axis360 to browse e-books from your local library. If you have an e-reader, you can download the books there, but these platforms have apps so you can also read them on your phone, tablet, or computer.
6. Donate to those who need it most
If you have the resources, take some time to donate goods or money to an organization that provides food and other essentials to people in need. Any local organization that deals with homelessness and food insecurity is a good bet, but if you’re not sure, Feeding America has a COVID-19 response fund to set up to assist food banks with emergency food packages.
You can also consider buying a gift card for a restaurant, bar, book store, or movie theater to use later. This way, you’ll have a way to treat yourself once you’re out of the house, and you’ll be supporting a local business during a time when they can’t make much (if any) money.
7. Cook up a dish you haven’t yet mastered
Perhaps you’ve been consuming even more Bon Appetit and Chopped videos than usual of late. Why not turn that inspiration into action in your kitchen to become the master chef you’ve always suspected you could become?
Commit a day to making something you’ve never made before, like jambalaya or homemade Nutella, or use your spare time to invest in a something like a slow cooker or dutch oven to explore everything that can be done with one.
8. Busy your mind with a puzzle or two
Achieve a feeling of idle satisfaction—that is, the knowledge that you’ve completed a task without having subjected yourself to actual work or chores—with a crossword puzzle, Sudoku puzzle, or jigsaw puzzle.
If you’re trying to limit your screen time, order a book of crosswords or Sudokus (or go crazy and get both), and a jigsaw puzzle that paints a scenic picture of what it will be like once your period of self isolation is over that you can plug away at while you are cooped up.
- Get the Buffalo Games 1000-piece Jigsaw Puzzle on Amazon for $9.60
- Get the 3-in-1 Word Search, Crossword, and Sudoku Book on Amazon for $12.93
9. Clear out your email inbox
If you’ve already done all the cleaning and organizing you can handle around the house, consider taking on a digital cleanse. This could mean clearing out your inbox (and responding to emails you’ve been avoiding or missed before), moving photos from your phone or computer to a hard drive, deleting unused apps and software from your phone or computer, and organizing important files on your hard drive or the cloud. It’s something you always planned to do but never had the time… until now.
10. Do some crafts
Making something with your own two hands can have a surprisingly therapeutic effect—particularly if you’ve been in the same place for a few days, are all by yourself, and have already consumed all the content you can bear.
The simplest artistic outlet: Digging out some paper and drawing pencils or markers and doodling away. If you’re already a crafter, you no doubt have some supplies holed up and waiting for your creative inspiration to strike (about now, it would seem). Or, if you’re new to the idea of making art, may we suggest We Are Knitters, a knitting kit that teaches you how to make your own hats and scarves DIY planters, and more.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.