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Tips to Stay Engaged During COVID-19

When COVID-19 began spreading across the U.S., leaders urged the public to practice social distancing and self-quarantining. While many were disappointed that schools, trips, festivals, family reunions, conventions and sporting events were canceled, the cancellations will help slow the spread of disease.

Many states have also implemented stay-at-home orders in a further effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The orders mean everyone needs to stay home unless they are an essential worker, or if they are needed to provide health care services.

While social isolation is necessary, it’s likely you miss your friends and family and it probably feels like your daily life has been uprooted in disturbing ways. Now that you’ve been stuck indoors for several days, perhaps boredom and restlessness have set in and loneliness and anxiety have started creeping into your thoughts.

Now more than ever, it’s important to stay positive. Luckily, there are many ways you can stay engaged and combat boredom – and you don’t always need technology to do it!

Engage Virtually

If you’re looking to connect, exercise your mind, or stretch your body a bit, there are many ways online to keep busy for hours. Here are just a few ideas to keep yourself engaged during COVID-19.

1. Host a Zoom party

In addition to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can interact with others through video messaging services like Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype (but also, don't forget about the pleasures of a good, old-fashioned phone call). Do regular check-ins with friends and family members who also may be feeling lonely or anxious. 

Zoom is an online video conferencing platform that allows multiple people to share in a live conference. Host a “get-together” with an online party. You can play games, chat or even do a karaoke contest.

2. Learn for free

Many museums are offering free online classes or tours during this time of quarantine. Take advantage of some of these tours at sites like Google Arts & Culture’s Collection, which includes the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and literally hundreds of other art, history and science exhibits.

3. Get fit

Like museums, many fitness companies and movement studios are offering free workouts online. The YMCA has a whole slew of free programs open to members and non-members alike at https://ymca360.org. With everything from beginner’s yoga to advanced boot camp, you can find fun ways to stay fit at home.

4. Find a favorite show

Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now and others are offering free content or special deals to help combat the boredom of isolation. For instance, Amazon has begun offering free access to over 40 children's shows that were previously available only to Prime subscribers.

5. Visit the library

The Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library also has books available for free download through their Libby App, through the Overdrive platform. You can borrow thousands of ebooks and audiobooks instantly, for free, using just the device in your hand.

Tech-Free Ways to Stay Entertained During COVID-19

1. Get some sunshine

Many of the shelter-in-place orders allow everyone to go outside to walk, ride a bike, garden or even hike. Take your kids out for daily playtime (keeping a 6-foot distance from others) and enjoy the springtime weather. Vitamin D, which is produced in part through sunlight, is nicknamed “The Happiness Vitamin,” so soak up the rays and breathe that fresh air.

2. Discover the magical world of physical books

Reading can actually help boost your mental health. Both adults and children can escape from the stress of daily life through the tales and adventures found in books. Some bookstores in the OKC metro, like Commonplace Books and Best of Books, will even deliver books you’ve ordered right to your car.

3. Bring back the art of letter writing

When was the last time you actually sent a hand-written letter or card? This can be a fun activity to do with children and is a meaningful way to stay connected. Start a letter-writing chain among your circle of friends and keep in touch the old-fashioned way. Besides the joy of giving and receiving letters, studies show the act of expressive writing leads to reduced stress and a better mood.

4. Play games

Board games, card games, hide and seek, poker, UNO… the list goes on and on. Not only do games bring you together as a family unit, but they are also stimulating to the brain. According to Scholastic.com, games can help young learners identify shapes, colors, numbers and develop hand-eye coordination. Board games also stimulate the frontal lobes of the developing brains of teenagers, especially games that require strategy.

5. Grow a garden

Even if you live in an apartment or small yard, gardening can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family. Kids can learn where their food comes from and feel the excitement of watching new shoots sprout of the ground and produce food. You can even skip tilling the soil with container gardening, where both flowers or vegetables can be grown in various containers. To learn more about home gardening in Oklahoma click here.

6. Create art

You don’t have to be Picasso to reap the benefits of making art. Painting, dancing, making music, journaling, sculpting and other artistic mediums not only provide enjoyment and satisfaction, but they also help strengthen your brain and improve your mood. So, break out those colored pencils, put on some danceable music or even sign up for a free online art class and get the creativity flowing.

No matter which activity you choose, it is more important than ever to stay connected with family and friends and keep your mind and body engaged and healthy. Let’s make the most of this difficult time and grow closer together while learning some new things. For more health and coping tips during COVID-19, head to our INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for regular updates.

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