As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe, more and more of us are finding ourselves stuck at home for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, we've compiled 10 easy and travel expert-tested ways to spend your time at home (or simply to distract yourself every now and again from the 24-hour news cycle). Whether you need a mental health break with some yoga or meditation, or are looking for a new gadget to try out in your kitchen, we've got you covered. Read on for our best suggestions on how to put a positive spin on your at-home time right now.
Burn Through the Most Binge-Worthy Shows on Streaming Platforms
This is a no-brainer — the truth is that almost everyone out there has binge-watched something at some time. Netflix is a normal part of our lives at this point. But there are some incredible binge-worth shows coming out with new seasons right now. “Elite” — a wonderfully soapy Spanish teen drama that tackles murder, betrayal, class struggles, racism, and stigma of all sorts — dropped its third season on March 13. “Ozark,” another twisted Netflix crime and family drama, comes out with its new season on March 27, 2020. Perhaps your partner or roommate has been urging you to watch some other show with them, but you haven’t started it? Now is the right time to catch up on what you haven’t seen: “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, “Sex Education” on Netflix, and Amazon Prime’s “Fleabag” are all perfect options.
To say that the news around COVID-19 and the global stock markets has been anxiety-inducing is an understatement. Luckily, there are several at-home strategies that can help you mitigate those feelings a bit. Oyster editor Lara Grant suggests meditation: “I highly recommend starting your day off with a calming meditation and intention setting,” she says. “Also stop for five- to 15-minute meditation or breathing breaks when you start to feel overwhelmed throughout the day. The news and spread of the virus can leave us feeling out of control and uncertain about the future, but what you can do is practice calming yourself in the present.” Grant reveals that a huge variety of meditation apps and videos are available online, and come in countless formats. Apps like HeadSpace and Calm may be worth purchasing, as they offer structured daily meditation programs with themes like anxiety and insomnia, though there are plenty of free programs out there as well.
Read the Bucket-List Books You’ve Been Putting Off
While spring break is typically associated with beach reads, the slightly more serious times in which we are living might call for a little more gravity. As so many of us continue to shelter in place, there’s no time like the present to tick a bucket-list novel off of your list. Candidates? Maria Hart, executive editor of our sister site What To Pack, recommends “Howard’s End” by E.M. Forster for its “relevance to our times in terms of the class struggles and conflicts between capitalism and artistic idealism.” Other intense-but-worth-it options include “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers, “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte, “Another Country” by James Baldwin, “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf, “Don Quixote” by Miguel Cervantes, or “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Now might also be the time to splurge on a Kindle, so you can instantly upload a new book as soon as you finish the last one.
Or Pretend You’re on the Beach With Something Less Heavy
Heavy reads might not be everyone’s cup of tea in these trying times — we get it. With that in mind, you may want to tuck into whatever less weighty book you were planning to take on vacation. Oyster senior editor Megan Wood recommends “Red, White, & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston. According to Hart, who also endorses the pick, “It’s racy, queer, and super fun.” Other utterly readable suggestions from Wood include “Dear Girls” by Ali Wong (be sure to check out Wong’s hysterical comedy specials on Netflix), “The Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo for something dark and sinister, and “City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert for a peek at a young woman’s glamorous life in the 1940s.
Check In With Family and Friends (By Phone and Video Chat)
Everyone is stressed out right now, and for many people the COVID-19 pandemic presents a huge number of challenges, from lost wages to suddenly needing child care to legitimate concerns about becoming ill. Senior photo editor, Laura Hinely, has been having daily virtual check-ins with her friends and family, and she’s not the only one. It’s important to stay connected at times like this, though — given recommendations from the CDC and WHO — this should all be practiced by social distancing. Modern technology makes it incredibly easy to stay in touch — and it’s a necessity for anyone who is isolating.
Switch Up Your Fitness Routine
Are you the kind of person who’s never tried yoga? Or maybe you’ve bristled at the idea of working out at home. Well, there’s no time like the present to get rid of those excuses you’ve been making. Oyster’s own resident holistic expert Lara Grant offers this: “Just because you can’t (or shouldn’t) head to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t get in some exercise. All you need is the space of a yoga mat to stretch or do yoga, Pilates, and other exercises. There’s an abundance of free classes online.” Her pick? O’M Yoga with Mary O’Meara.
Make Yourself Laugh as Much As Possible
There’s science behind this suggestion. Laughter — in fact, even just smiling — can release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins from your brain into your body, helping to combat the effects of anxiety. And that’s a good thing. Here’s some advice from Oyster’s senior photo editor, Laura Hinely (who has taken her share of improv classes): “I’m listening to all my favorite comedy podcasts: Threedom, Teacher’s Lounge, The Big Ones, and Hollywood Handbook (the latter is redefining podcasts in this era with their episode with Sinbad where they try to defeat the Coronavirus).”
Unbury That Gadget You Impulse Bought and Actually Use It
We all have them: Gadgets that we bought once upon a time and thought we would use daily or weekly. Yet, as time has passed, they’ve gathered dust, taken up precious counter space, or been forgotten about in a closet. There is no time like the present to put them to work. Items in this category include pasta makers, bread makers, personal home spa kits, weighted blankets, and VR headsets. However, since sugar can be such a salve in times of crisis, we have another suggestion: “I got my ice cream maker out to work on my peanut butter ice cream recipe,” Hinely notes.
Catch Up on the Oscar Winners and Nominees
Lucky for the homebound among us, most of the nominees and winners of the most recent Academy Awards are available on streaming platforms right now. My partner and I recently watched “Knives Out.” Hinely plans to watch “Little Women” multiple times. And you’ll find this year’s best picture winner — “Parasite” — available on Amazon Prime. If you’ve already made your way through this year’s film crop, there’s always time to hit up those from years before. Have you seen “A Star Is Born” yet?
Cook or Bake Some New Recipes (Or Perfect an Old One)
For most of us, there’s rarely any time on weeknights to put together a really nice meal, and weekends are often packed with social obligations and running errands. With commutes to work largely unnecessary at the moment, and staying at home the order of business on nights and weekends, there’s more time to perfect your favorite recipes or try out some new ones. These don’t have to be complicated. Bon Appetit offers numerous recipe suggestions every day, many of which are incredibly simple to make. They also come in categories like “Healthyish,” which are less guilt-inducing (but equally delicious), in case you’re worried about your declining daily step count. If you want to keep it sweet, take the advice of Oyster’s customer service representative, Carrie Hall, “I’m perfecting my brownie recipe.”
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