The pandemic feels like a fever dream. It feels like simple joys and conveniences were stripped from us overnight. Things we used to take for granted, like going to the gym, meeting with friends for a cup of coffee, and a quick trim at the salon, were suddenly off the table.
Many of us have probably gotten over the initial shock of the pandemic and its effects. However, some still have to contend with being stuck at home as lockdowns remain intermittent from state to state.
But even though we have to protect each other by practicing safe social distancing, it doesn’t mean we need to abandon time with each other altogether. Now more than ever, we need to find new and creative ways to be entertained and stay connected with our loved ones. Here are some fun—and surprisingly healthy—hobbies and activities to try with friends in the era of social distancing.
For those who have never tried online gaming, now is the best time to get into it. E-games are the perfect way to stay connected with family and friends, outside of video calling and chatting. They foster teamwork, connection, and bonding over a common opponent.
Studies also show that playing video games helps improve our cognitive functions, hand-eye coordination, and decision-making skills. You don’t need to spend much for it too—online games can be played on any gaming console and even on devices you already own like your smartphone, tablet, and desktop PC.
Boardgame nights are off the table for now, but you can still host a virtual game night with your friends. You can even choose a theme or do cosplay to make it more fun.
If you find that your workout times have been lackluster and ineffective since the quarantine, one way to make them more fun and tolerable is by inviting friends to do it with you via Zoom. Studies show that an overwhelming majority of people who started a weight-loss program with their friends completed the program compared to those who began alone. Another research shows that those who exercise with a more-capable partner can improve motivation to do strenuous workouts.
Set up a workout session with your friends—it’s more fun and may do wonders for your health. Try new workouts you’ve never tried before, like a Vinsaya yoga flow session.
Cooking your meals may be one of the most cost-efficient ways to preserve your health. It saves you from the trouble of dining out, which is the riskiest way to eat. COVID-19 is mostly spread through respiratory droplets when people talk, sneeze, or cough and it can also be spread by touching contaminated surfaces then touching our faces. Dining out exposes you to many of these risks, and it’s also the more expensive option.
Consider setting up a cooking competition via video call with your friends and family. Look up healthy meals you want to learn to make and arrange for the recipes to get more challenging with each level. Send the meals to the friend who’s the best at cooking and have them do a blind taste test. If many people are participating, you can do multiple eliminations per session, Master Chef style. Make a game of it! It’s an exciting and collaborative way to learn a new skill.
Research shows that with the advent of the internet came a general decline in reading among American adults and teenagers. And even when reading does occur, it usually competes with other media, like TV and the internet. Another research suggests that our attention span has decreased by almost a quarter in just fifteen years.
There’s no better time to improve the condition of our reading than during a pandemic. More and more people are spending time at home, which is a great time to improve one’s ability to focus on one task at a time. The benefits of reading the printed word are numerous—it strengthens our minds, gives us empathy, and helps prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Encourage reading among your friends by setting up an online book class. To give them more incentive to read, set up a time to watch the movie adaptation when you’re all done with the novel.
Staying Connected Need Not Be Hard
One way to preserve our mental health during difficult times is by staying connected with the people we love. It may seem like another task on top of a never-ending list of things we need to accomplish, but if we want to survive this pandemic, we need to hold on to each other, even if it’s by playing games through a computer screen.