How to Keep Busy while Social Distancing


Zarina Sotero, Staff Writer |

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been advised to practice social distancing. Social distancing refers to the increasing of physical space between people in an attempt to avoid further spreading the illness. Public health officials have advised the disbandment of large gatherings, or any gatherings, if possible. It is advised that people stay home and limit interactions to those in your immediate space, such as the people you live with. Only go out if absolutely necessary. Some necessary actions include buying groceries, visiting a doctor or going to work. Many people have expressed concern about being stuck inside with nothing to occupy themselves with, so here are some things to do (other than binge watching movies or TV shows) while practicing social distancing.

Many people believe that social distancing means they have to stay inside 24/7. However, that is not the case. You are still allowed to go outside, just don’t come into close physical contact with others. Sit on your porch or in your backyard, take a walk around the block or take your pet outside; the possibilities are endless! There are many scientifically-proven reasons to go outside, like relieving stress. A 2012 study conducted in China found that students who spent two nights in the forest had lower levels of cortisol – a hormone used as a marker for stress – than those who spent those two nights in the city. In a 2011 Japanese study, researchers found a decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol in subjects in the forest compared to those in the city. Another reason why going outside is beneficial to your health is that it can improve your mental health. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues may be eased by spending time outside.

Another thing to do when you’re bored is to clean re-organize your living space. Most people hate the idea of cleaning, but there are some health benefits to cleaning and it can help disinfect your home from any germs you may have been in contact with. A study led by Nicole R. Keith, research scientist and professor at Indiana University, found that people with clean houses are healthier and more active than those with messy, unorganized households. Furthermore, researchers at Princeton University found that clutter can make it more difficult to focus on a particular task and complete tasks efficiently. This is especially important right now, since most people are either working or doing online schooling from home.

An activity you can do that doesn’t require physical activity is reading. Not only is reading a form of entertainment, it can provide many health benefits. Reading causes mental stimulation and can be considered a form of mental exercise to keep your brain strong and healthy. In a 2013 study, researchers used functional MRI scans to measure the effects that reading has on the brain. Participants read the novel “Pompeii,” and as the tension built in the story, more and more areas of the brain lit up with activity. Reading also helps to reduce stress. A 2009 study found that 30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressure, heart rate and feelings of psychological distress.

There are numerous other things you could do while social distancing. These are just a few activities that are not only fun, but also provide you with health benefits. Try them out to avoid feeling a little stir-crazy and see how much better you feel afterward!

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