There Are Silver Linings To Social Distancing. Here's How To Make It Work In Your Favor

As we wade through the uncharted waters of a global pandemic, certain things are starting to feel, well, normal. While staying at home in the name of social distancing felt claustrophobic at first, now the days are starting to blur together as we change out of our pajamas, into our sweatpants (for work, of course), and back into our pajamas again for our nightly Netflix marathon. 

There's no question that this is a particularly difficult moment in history, and if you've gotten into a groove with social distancing, don't let me take that from you. But if you're still feeling a little lost, consider this: The elimination of social engagements, workout classes, and commutes gives us hours of free time that we didn't have before. So why not put them to good use? Now that you don't have the excuse of "not having enough time," here are 11 ways to make social distancing work in your favor. 

Pick up a new hobby.

In the era of side hustles, the concept of a good old fashioned hobby feels obsolete. But research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress and depression, so why not try your hand at one? It doesn't have to be complicated, either. Try completing your newspaper's crossword puzzle every weekend, reading every night instead of watching TV, or writing a few pages of fiction in a notebook every morning. Still don't have any good ideas? Let this extensive list help you out. 

Take an online course. 

At Silk + Sonder, we consider ourselves lifelong learners. While you can't exactly take an in-person class right now, online courses are always available. Consider taking The Science of Wellbeing, which is offered by Yale University, or edX's Philosophy & Ethics class. 

Spend more time in the kitchen.

Is "get into cooking" the thing that's forever on your to-do list? If you find yourself realizing that the complete spice rack you bought ages ago is still 100% full, worry not — you're only human. Not all of us are born Martha Stewarts, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to follow a recipe or two. For healthy, easy-to-follow recipes, consider checking out Ambitious Kitchen, Bon Appetit's Healthyish, and Minimalist Baker

If you’re already a cook, is there a new cuisine or recipe you can challenge yourself to try? If so, it's time to get on that! 

@ambitiouskitchen

Learn a new language.

Haven't tried to tackling a new language since high school Spanish? There's no time like the present. There are tons of apps out there that will help you learn or brush up on the new language of your choice, like Memrise, LinguaLift, and Duolingo

Declutter.

Sure, the traditional Marie Kondo-style declutter will do. But there are a ton of other ways to declutter, too. Delete apps you don't use, delete old photos and screenshots (especially incriminating screenshots), get your inbox to zero, drag all those random documents off your desktop and into the trash. And then empty the trash (the crackle is just so satisfying). 

Binge watch a new show.

There's so much great TV out there. "Little Fires Everywhere" on Hulu is a great new pick, but this is also a great opportunity to watch that show everyone was talking about way back when that you never got around to ("Game Of Thrones" or "Big Little Lies," anyone?). Don't forget about movies, either: If you never watched the "Harry Potter" films, for example, this may just be the time to tackle all seven.  

@littlefireshulu

Curl up with a good book. 

"I wish I had time to read!" is a statement of the past. Now you have no excuses! If you have a bunch of unread books on your shelf, dig in. If you're looking for new titles, Bill Gates always has great picks, and you can't go wrong with the New York Times bestseller list. Oh, and don't forget about this excellent list Silk + Sonder put together for you! 

Spend time outside. 

Social distancing doesn't mean spending every moment inside. If you live near nature, take a hike or go for a long run. If you live near a beach, sink your toes into the sand and dip them in the ocean. If you're in a city, head to your local park. If you're in the suburbs, take evening walks around your neighborhood. As long as you stay six feet from other people, you're good. 

Bring pen to paper.

There's never been a more perfect time to pause, think, and attract. While you can't control the immediate future, you can control what you do on a day-to-day basis. You can also create some life goals or intentions for yourself. Consider creating a daily ritual around writing, whether that's first thing in the morning over coffee or every evening after dinner with a cup of tea and a scented candle burning. 

Channel you inner creative.

The artist inside you is just waiting to come out. Want to paint more? Try this watercolor kit and monthly online tutorial. Want to learn to draw? How about paint with acrylics? You can make that happen here and here

Host a Zoom party.

You may not be able to host a dinner party or meet your friends for happy hour, but a Zoom (or other video chat) party? You can certainly accomplish that one. Bring a glass of wine, bring a cup of tea, bring your favorite dessert and get ready to catch up on some social time — from a distance, of course. 

How are you maximizing this period of social distancing? Let us know in the comments. And while you're at it, make sure to subscribe to Silk + Sonder today. 

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