Congratulations! You’ve survived the first week of COVID-19 social distancing, or self-quarantine, or shelter-in-place, or whatever we’re calling this new normal where you work from home with one officemate, a.k.a. your cat. Cabin fever is, unsurprisingly, on the rise. Since we don’t want you to turn into Jack Torrance from The Shining, we’ve rounded up the best ways to make isolation as awesome as possible. Read on. Actually, wash your hands first.
You don’t have commit to an Ivy League college course (though you could—there are 450 free online ones listed at this Quartz link). As a grown-ass lady who still uses the bunny-ear method to tie my sneakers, I’ll be aiming a bit lower: finally learning to tie a proper square knot that won’t come undone. The wonderful world of YouTube tutorials can help you nail any basic skill you haven’t yet mastered—how to French braid your hair, tie a half-windsor, carve hand fruit into adorable animals, or speak Cockney rhyming slang.
The Treasury Department and the IRS did us a solid by extending the deadline from April 15 to July 15, 2020, for individual returns. That’s cool, but as the old saying goes, “The early bird gets the tax refund check.” Tax prep isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time, but unless you like giving the government an interest-free loan, get your W-2s and 1099s together, fire up one of these free tax filing options, and get some money in your pocket sooner.
You’re trying to Netflix and chill, but a person could spend forever scrolling through movie options. That’s why author Rob Hart and his wife invented the Nic Cage rule to end Netflix paralysis forever. If you spend more than 15 minutes without deciding on a movie, you’ve got to watch the first Nic Cage film you see. Either it motivates you to choose quickly or it leads to a Nic Cage Film Festival at your place. It’s win-win.
Have sex. Lots of it! Sex is natural and sex is fun (miss you, George Michael) and it counts as self-care, with health benefits like stress relief, better mood, and a short-term boost to your immune system (definitely key right now). Plus, you can technically count sex as exercise. A caveat: This advice only applies to people who are COVID-19-free and already living with their partner. For those who don’t fall under that umbrella, there’s sexting and video-chatting, or, you know, self-entertainment. According to the NYC Health Department, who released their own timely guide to pandemic sex here, “You are your safest sex partner.”
“Most public libraries provide digital content at no cost to their patrons,” says Lauren Bradley, the reference librarian at LIM College in New York City. These subscriptions vary from library to library, but some common ones are: Overdrive/Libby for e-book and e-audiobook lending to your device, Hoopla for streaming movies and music, Lynda for software training, and Mango Languages for learning over 70 languages. There’s also content specifically for children such as ABC Mouse and TumbleBooks. To keep you sane during these trying times, your library may also offer free access to newspapers and magazines that usually are behind a paywall (i.e. The Wall Street Journal).
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a phone call from you would have totally made her day. Keep it quick and cordial or use this opportunity to ask questions only she can answer about family history, favorite casserole recipes, or what your parents did to get grounded when they were kids. Take some time to pass on your own useful info—teach her how to FaceTime or Skype with her phone or tablet, how to order groceries online, or how to download an eBook.
Murder She Wrote star Angela Lansbury has always been a proponent of fitness at every age. (When her character J.B. Fletcher wasn’t solving murders, you may recall her jogging, gardening, or riding her bicycle around the small fishing community of Cabot Cove, ME.) It’s fitting that she waited until she was 63 to release her self-devised wellness plan in a 1988 fitness video called Angela Lansbury’s Positive Moves. It includes gentle stretches, some floor-based Pilates moves, and “on-land swimming” exercises; there’s also a mini-massage with body lotion, and a languorous bubble bath. Yes, really. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, there’s always the classic Jane Fonda’s Advanced Workout, or for something very old-school, check out black-and-white episodes of The Jack LaLanne Show.
Now that hand hygiene is on everyone’s mind, the handshake is officially cancelled. As a society, we need to consider the options and come to a consensus on our new greeting. Practice them so you know where you stand: World leaders have used the fist bump, the elbow bump, and the “namaste” prayer hands. Other options? Jazz hands, the Vulcan salute, the Wakanda salute, and finger guns.