As the country settles in for the long haul of teleworking and social isolation, the goal becomes maintaining your sanity and staving off cabin fever.

Whether you are isolating solo, with a furry friend, or with your whole family, MeriTalk has some tips to not only keep you busy but use this time for some self-improvement.

Mind-Body Connection

With gyms across the country closing down, many a gym rat is finding themselves with extra energy to burn. Luckily, there are still many ways to work up a sweat. Numerous popular studios and gyms –  including CorePower Yoga, Barry’s Bootcamp, Peloton, OrangeTheory, and Planet Fitness – are offering either free classes on social media or free trial memberships to their streaming apps. Taking a trip outside – while maintaining CDC recommended distancing – is a great way to beat cabin fever and burn some calories. Whether it’s a walk, run, or bike ride, free exercise opportunities abound. Since exercise releases endorphins – which can help combat any quarantine blues – consider lacing up your tennis shoes and getting your heart rate up.

Teach an Old Dog (or Child) a New Trick

While you are busy staying productive during the workday, it’s important to keep your evenings and weekends just as productive. If you have a furry friend at home, consider training them to do a new party trick (for when we’re allowed to have parties again). They may have mastered sit and paw, but what about teaching them to jump rope? Here are 52 tricks to get you started. With kids home from school for the foreseeable future, it’s a great chance to teach some new life skills. From cooking and laundry to oil changes and fixing a leaky faucet, now is a great time to get them prepared for adulthood. Plus, once they learn how to cook, you can have a catered lunch while you’re working from home.

Does it Bring You Joy?

If the coronavirus has you feeling like more of a germaphobe than usual, now is the perfect time to get a head start on your spring cleaning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs and light switches, daily to keep the virus out of your home. But while you’re keeping the germs at bay, staying socially distant could open up your schedule for a Marie Kondo-style declutter to build a home that sparks joy while you’re stuck inside. Plus, spring cleaning can be a great indoor workout.

Time to Get Multilingual

Studying a new language requires a complete focus that will take your brain off the coronavirus panic. It’s all-consuming, immersive, and a skill with lifelong benefits. Studies show correlations between bilingualism and problem-solving, memory, cognitive ability, and general intelligence. Free services like Duolingo and Busuu make it easy to get started.

Dibs on Office Space

If you’re not home alone during the pandemic, first consider yourself lucky because you have people to keep you company.  But if some of that company is roommates or family members that are also teleworking, it can make for competition for the better spots in the house to work from. It’s a good idea to designate the best working locations – the kitchen table, dining room, den, etc. – and then trade off a couple times a day.  Another good idea: if you have a room with a door, designate that as the conference call room to keep down on noise so everyone can concentrate on doing their best work.

Wonders of Nature

Whenever possible and up to several times a day, take a few minutes to step outside and marvel at the natural world outside your four walls. The air is fresh, the temperatures are warming, and in most places, including Washington, the onset of spring is breathtakingly beautiful. Leave the connected devices inside for a moment, and take time to nurture the body and the soul.

Refrain From Screaming Into the Void

The “void” in this case is Twitter, Facebook, or any other form of social media. While this may be an opportunity for social interaction, limiting your time on social media can be good for your mental health during these confusing and scary times. It’s easy to hop on social media while teleworking by opening a new tab with one click, but social media distancing can help filter out information you don’t need.

Crack Open a New Book

Author C.S. Lewis once said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” You might not have the same predilection for tea as the native Brit, or long books, but reading can be a great way to explore the world within. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe might be a good place to start, especially if you are reading to children. Or if you don’t feel like reading, check out this page where children’s book authors list the virtual activities that they are doing.

Beating Boredom Piece by Piece

Do you want a sense of accomplishment? Think about how artist Howard Chandler Christy must have felt when he completed the 20-by-30-foot Scene at the Signing of the Constitution, which now hangs on the House side of the United States Capitol. If you can’t paint, or don’t have a 20-by-30-foot canvas lying around the house, purchase the 500-piece puzzle that recreates the historic photo. Select puzzles are half off through 5 pm on Monday from the United States Capitol Historical Society. When you are finished, you won’t have created a Christy, or signed the Constitution, but you will have completed a puzzle, and that is something.

“I Swear I’m Going to Watch That”

Focusing on work is the top priority when working remotely, but when you’re taking a lunch break or winding down at the end of the day, here are some streaming recommendations to get you through your time inside:

  • HBO: Us, Hobbs & Shaw, Succession, Silicon Valley, Euphoria, Watchmen, Curb Your Enthusiasm, or Barry.
  • Netflix: Snowpiercer, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse, Marriage Story, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, or Ozark.
  • Amazon Prime: Midsommar, The Farwell, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Fleabag, or Homecoming.
  • Disney+: Frozen 2, Pixar’s Onward (out April 3rd), Coco, Bao, Rogue One, or Black Panther.
  • Apple TV+: The Morning Show or Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
  • Hulu: Fighting with my Family, Booksmart, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Atlanta, or the new documentary Hillary.
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MeriTalk Staff