The funny thing is, some of us enjoy being isolated. I do. It gives me time to do what I already love doing: drawing, sketching, reading, making. But for others, it is a source of stress and anxiety, so without further ado, here is a list of fun, creative, and FREE things you can do to keep your mind from feeding on itself while we isolate ourselves.
Get in shape without the gym. Come out on the other side of this in better shape than when you went in.
Few things can help you now more than self-care, so when you are finished with your stress eating (and drinking!), consider doing something simple that will improve your mental well being as well as how you feel. The variety of free workout videos on YouTube is staggering. Yoga, pilates, zumba, HIIT, chair aerobics (for those who are disabled), light stretching, bootcamp – you name it. Scared to begin? Search for work outs of five or ten minutes or that are labelled “easy” or “beginner.” See if you can get your kids or your cat to join you. NO EXCUSES.
There are a variety of sites online that offer what is effectively personal training and my favourite is Fitness Blender. You can purchase an 8-week program of guided work outs in a variety of levels – $18 for 8 weeks is a bargain compared to the gym, but they also have thousands of free videos. Find them on YouTube or at https://www.fitnessblender.com/
Open Culture. Something for everyone. Really.
The best site I have found for a wide array of cultural resources, both edifying and fun. Free movies, courses, recordings of famous writers reading their own works, language lessons, writing tips from classic authors, ebooks, music, and this is just a small part of what they offer. This week – Bruce Springsteen concert film and Isaac Newton. My all time favourite post is a collection of passsport photos of famous people, such as F. Scott Fitzerald, Marilyn Monroe, Virginia Woolf, and Ella Fitzgerald! It is free to use but I do make a contribution; I get a lot more out of it than I do from Netflix.
Learn a language. Pourquoi pas ?
I practice French almost every day and not only because I love to visit the place. I also enjoy learning a new language for its own sake, to find that I know something today that I did not know yesterday. It makes my brain feel good. Get the free Duolingo app (or register online) for access to fun lessons that get progressively more challenging, in 35 languages including Navajo. And Klingon. So, yeah, learn Klingon and impress your friends.
You can also find many resources for language learning on YouTube. That is where I find documentaries, often nature programs, in French as well as children’s videos that frequently use simpler language and an engaging style that keeps me up to speed.
Visit a virtual museum. Refresh your soul with beauty.
Over 2,000 museums around the world allow you to visit them virtually. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en
The British Museum features archaeology, culture, and history at https://research.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx
A fun way to rummage their collections by date through thousands of years of history is this interactive site
A group of Paris museums has made over 150,000 of their fine art images available for free download, for those of you are crafting or drawing.
The Met offers images from 5,000 years of art and history at https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection and has a special page for kids at https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids/
The Smithsonian also offers millions of free records, photos, stories on a wild variety of topics (World Frog Day, space exploration, superheroes, and art) at https://www.si.edu/
They also have a site just for kids at https://www.si.edu/kids/
Homeschooling? They also have a Learning Lab with a ton of digital resources from 19 museums, the National Zoo, and more to help with lessons and teaching resources. https://www.si.edu/
And here’s a virtual tour of the National Museum of Natural History https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour
Keep crafting and making stuff.
Find thousands of free downloads for printing at the Graphics Fairy https://thegraphicsfairy.com/ They also have a premium membership that you can buy that gives you access to much more.
YouTube, again. Learn just about any new skill that has been on your list. Coptic binding. Slow stitching. Drawing faces. Perspective. Seriously, think of a craft that you have wanted to try and see what is on there. They also have an array of more sophisticated art techniques (I am about to try some Japanese papermaking). So explore.
Listen to a podcast. Listen and learn.
Keep yourself company with information and entertainment.
These are great by themselves but I also use them to listen to while I am cooking or fussy cutting or working out. Search around for any topic you can think of. I enjoy several science and history podcasts but my all-time, go-to favourite is “The Moth Radio Hour” where people from all over take a mic and tell stories. If it sounds kind of blah, it is not. It is hilarious, poignant, moving, and profound. It is always entertaining. It reminds us what it means to be human. Listen by podcast or online here https://themoth.org/radio-hour
Another podcast I listen to like it was popcorn is “You Must Remember This.” It is a series of stories about classic Hollywood. If you like old movies, this is it. http://www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com/
Yoga. Strike a pose.
Yoga is a sure-fire way to centre and help you get control of your monkey mind, no small deal at this point in time. There are hundreds of free video lessons for all levels at Do Yoga With me at https://www.doyogawithme.com/
And at Yoga Meditation you can find http://yogameditationhome.com/ yoga and guided meditations. Then there is Fightmaster Yoga which offers an array of styles and ability levels (including absolute beginner), as well as a more athletic version of yoga for those who want a work out. https://www.youtube.com/user/lesleyfightmaster
Relax. Seriously, just chill already.
Check out the Calm app or online site at https://app.www.calm.com/sleep It offers guided meditation, a series of masterclasses in calm and dealing with anxiety, as well as bedtime stories to help you sleep. Also check out your app store for a ton of nature sounds offerings. I love one called Sleep Sounds and not just for sleep. It is also a really good way to drown out the noises from the next (or same!) room and ave your sanity if you are finding you and yours in close quarters.
Whew. If you have any ideas to share with other readers, please put them in the comments below. Otherwise, be good to yourself and stay safe. And strong. We’re going to get through this.