By: Hunter Eggers
COVID-19 has consumed our lives for weeks now, especially since the American epicenter of the disease is so close to us in New York City. I grew up in Greenwich and now live and work in Manhattan. Under the advice of medical experts and government officials, we’ve been instructed to #StayHome. If you’re like me, you chose to flee to your parents house and may find yourself asking “so… now what?”
If you’re working remotely, I’m sure your company has given you a how-to guide on virtual work (if not, my lovely mother has put together a great list). What about everything else? You aren’t heading to a boozy brunch, museum, or park, there are no sports on TV, and you can only handle so much Netflix.
Outside of making sure you’re staying safe and healthy (using a telehealth virus assessment), here are a few things you can do with your newfound free time.
Take Care of Your Mind and Body
Some of you are already early-rising runners, late-night boxers, or have that one HIIT instructor who really kicks your ass. You can’t physically be there anymore but there is no reason to interrupt your routine. If you’re more like me, you become an expert negotiator with yourself when it comes to working out: “I had a long day, I’ll do two workouts tomorrow.” There aren’t any more excuses. Many gyms are providing classes online for free. YouTube is full of yoga introductions and bodyweight strength workouts. Try a new workout app – it’s a great time to get moving.
Equally significant is mental health, especially during an anxiety-inducing crisis. I tried meditating, which can be hard at first but pays off and takes just a few minutes out of your day. Organizations like Headspace offer an intro to the practice specifically geared towards COVID-19. Additionally, as someone who’s never taken the time to talk to someone, trust me – try it out. Everyone can benefit from talking to a professional and you’ll learn more about yourself than you thought possible. In light of the pandemic, WellnessCoach is offering a 90-day free trial and Ginger is offering free behavioral therapy through June.
I’ve been doing my best to stay connected to everyone as well. I’ve had virtual happy hours through Zoom or played online card or board games with friends. Reconnect with your college roommate and see how they’re doing. An email to an old boss, coach, or professor goes a long way as well. I’ve found that all our relationships are invaluable and keep us going, especially in times like this.
There are people who need help. If you’re like me, you’ve always felt passionate about something but never found the time to commit yourself to it. Now we have the time. There are plenty of reasons to be charitable but most importantly, volunteering and giving is the right thing to do. The crisis may bring attention to certain causes and re-invigorate our passion for charity while also providing an opportunity to get involved long-term.
The Meals on Wheels COVID-19 relief fund is asking for you to donate or volunteer your time delivering meals to the elderly and vulnerable. Operation Masks was started by a group of entrepreneurs to provide equipment healthcare professionals need to fight COVID-19. There is a great need for blood and plasma now more than ever – the American Red Cross is desperate for volunteers to give what they can, especially from those of us that are young and healthy.
There are also plenty of opportunities to volunteer online and connect beyond COVID-19. You can tutor a student, work on a project for the UN, transcribe documents for the Smithsonian or Project Gutenberg, teach a subject online, or identify new galaxies. Volunteering can improve your resume, skills, and has significant positive psychological effects.
The world needs help. Find your way to give what you can.
A mentor of mine challenged me to spend my free time developing a new skill. It can be anything, from professional skills to further your career to uncovering hidden talents. It might take some time to figure out what to pursue (my pencil drawings and poetry will never see the light of day) but it’s a great time to take on a new skill. Here are a few things I’ve looked into:
– Stop including French on your resume because you took it in college and learn a new language by downloading Duolingo.
– Ivy League schools are offering hundreds of classes online on a variety of topics.
– Find a program or app that teaches you how to invest or code.
– Do you also read the blurbs books while waiting at the airport, buy them, read fourteen pages on your flight, then let it sit on your shelf for half a decade? Attack that stack of books collecting dust at home.
– You can still feel like a true New York hipster by checking out a concert or museum virtually.
– Even if you’re like me and don’t belong anywhere near a canvas, learning to create art and music is available as well.
– I found out how little I remember from high school, and how much I used to cram for tests, and rediscovered Kahn Academy.
– Having learned one recipe from my mom six years ago and banking on that for my entire adult life thus far, I decided to learn how to prepare a new dish.
Remember when you were young, before you had a cell phone or streaming services, and you’d make up games and activities all day? Well, it turns out there are some serious benefits to re-learning how to be bored. Take some time to try doing nothing, too.
Whatever it may be, challenge yourself.
Stay Safe, Stay Present, Stay Positive
This pandemic is scary and should be taken seriously by everyone. We may never understand how our actions will affect other people and our community, but it’s important to remember to stay safe.
At the same time, think about the silver linings of this period of time. How our society works may change in the coming months, and if what we’ve seen from the brave doctors, nurses, and other health professionals on the front lines is any indication, the best of humanity has more to offer. We’ve been given the chance to improve ourselves, whether that’s by developing or maintaining an exercise routine, working on mental health, learning new skills, or helping those in need – we can do it right now.
We are also being afforded the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with our loved ones. There will not likely be another period in our life in which we will spend weeks, if not months, with those we hold dear.I intend to make the most of it. I have dinner with my family every night. We watch movies or play games together. Every day, I take a (very socially distant) walk with my mother, or help my father with home projects. They appreciate it and, I have found, so do I.
Take some time to focus on silver linings and how you can spend your time. We’re all stuck for a little while but there are a few things each of us can do to make life at home a little more bearable, optimistic, and fulfilling.