Year 2 of this pandemic has proven to be a continuation of more of the same old same old difficult slog. At the same time, we are starting to get glimpses of a more positive and normal feeling future. But we aren’t there yet, and more is needed to help us get through the second year of more social distancing, wearing masks, and focusing on our mental health. While we cant waive our magic wand and make all of our difficult experiences and feelings vanish, we CAN control our mindset, and how we care for ourselves.
We want to help with one problem that many of us are facing as we slog our way through year 2 and that is with some creative ways that you can practice being present, and taking care of yourself while wearing a mask, and social distancing. Because let’s be honest, it’s been a long time and we are running out of ideas! We got together and created this list for you to reference, and to share with friends and colleagues.
⦁ Go for a walk in a different neighborhood or park than usual, notice what new flowers are in bloom, or what fruits are in season.
⦁ Create an obstacle course at the park or your yard, use cones, boxes (A repurpose of those huge Amazon boxes!)
⦁ Start a plank challenge with yourself or with others. See who can improve their time in a plank position the most!
⦁ Find your favorite dance music and boogie down with family or friends while wearing a mask if recommended. Check out Spotify for premade playlists by mood.
⦁ Get on trend with some roller skates! Roller rinks may mostly be out but your local schoolyards blacktop is a great place for practice.
⦁ Ask a friend about their favorite local trail and plan a trip to hike, or bike it. Try to find a place you haven’t explored yet.
⦁ Go to MedItOcean to watch the Monterey Bay Aquariums meditation tank.
⦁ Get InsightTimer through the APP store for better sleep, and reducing anxiety or stress.
⦁ Did you know that libraries are open? Check out a book today and pick it up curbside, or download the Audible APP and have new stories read to you.
⦁ Start a garden from seeds. Take time each day to slow down, water, and tend to your amazing seedlings.
⦁ Turn the lights down for your next bath or shower, add some candles and lavender to give yourself a relaxed spa feel.
⦁ Take a 5-minute break from working to walk outside. Take a few deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth.
⦁ Name 3 things in your head, out loud, or written down that you are grateful for.
⦁ Search YouTube for videos that make you laugh and smile. Share your favorites via text with friends and family.
⦁ Take regular breaks from work to stand in the sunshine.
⦁ Take the time to create a bedtime routine that helps you get good sleep. Use that routine at least once a week.
⦁ Choose food that makes you really happy. Eat it mindfully, noticing the textures, smells, tastes, and memories that it brings up for you.
⦁ Accept and acknowledge when you are not feeling happy. It’s ok! Life is complicated and being unhappy is part of the rules.
⦁ Notice where you are tense in your body. Spend a few minutes tensing the muscle then releasing it. Notice the difference.
⦁ Declutter your space. Make a pile of items that no longer add value to your space and donate them.
⦁ Download “Words with Friends” and create teams with your friends. Grab your mask and socially distance at the park while you play together.
⦁ Create a movie club. Pick a movie to all watch together or apart, make plans to meet via zoom or in public with masks, and discuss your favorite parts or themes.
⦁ Organize a wine tasting event with friends. Get together in the backyard or do it virtually.
⦁ Play Among Us with family or friends. Don’t know what that is? Ask a teenager or a 10-year-old.
⦁ Order take out from a local restaurant and have a friend over for a DIY dinner in the backyard.
⦁ Go through your contacts and notice people you want to reach out to more. Make the effort and send a text or call with some times and days in mind for scheduling a meet-up.
⦁ Dust off your stamps and envelopes to send someone snail mail. Who doesn’t love a surprise letter in the mail slot!?
Get Therapy Skills!
⦁ Check out the awesome APP developed through Stanford called WoeBot. It’s got tons of thought challenges and mood checks to get you through some difficult times. Plus it’s actually really cute and funny, AND doesn’t bug you with notifications!
⦁ Follow us on Social Media! We have plenty of insights, education, and kindness to inspire you.
⦁ Practice listening to someone with the intent to understand not share your thoughts or perspectives. See what you can learn about the other person.
⦁ Try being curious about feelings or thoughts that come up for you. Slow down and just notice them, then ask yourself “How old do I feel right now”
⦁ Take 5 minutes to shut out future thinking or past dwelling and be present in the moment. Use our grounding technique to help you along.
⦁ Get creative in expressing your feelings. Words can only say so much! Use art to relieve stress, express a worry, or identify feelings and thoughts.
⦁ Set aside 5 minutes before your bedtime routine to worry. Write down what you come up with and set it aside once the timer goes off. Once time is up, that’s it!
Get family Time!
⦁ Buy different brands of the same product and have a blind taste test with the family. Root beer, Peanut butter, ice cream! You choose!
⦁ Learn a new board game or card game together. Exploding Kittens is fun! Try the expansion pack “Streaking Kittens” if you need a new twist. How about Ticket to Ride?
⦁ Start a monthly tradition to make movie night a big deal. What snacks will you need? Who chooses the movie? Blankets and snuggles?
⦁ Play a game with conversation cards to get to know each member a little better.
⦁ Plan an afternoon out to your local trail, a nearby beach, or a creek in the mountains. Explore together a familiar favorite or a new place.
⦁ Safely volunteer at a local organization. Remember to wear your mask, socially distance, and wash your hands with warm soapy water. Notice how your generosity makes you feel.
⦁ Make a family bucket list that can be done safely. Be sure to take the final step of scheduling the things on the list and following through.
⦁ Set a goal to have more fun. Practice being playful, telling jokes, and being silly.
⦁ Take the time to think about what having fun looks like for you. Start with thinking back to the kind of fun you had as a kid, highlight items that still sound appealing.
⦁ Pick a day and time during the week that you can set aside for fun activities. Get it on your calendar and don’t double book the time!
⦁ You are not too old to play with legos, color, or do a puzzle. Go for it!
⦁ Join a sports team! Or check out a sport called Pickleball! Yes, it is for real! And it is super fun, can be played in a mask, socially distanced, and is easy on the joints.
⦁ Have a play date with your significant other. Plan a scavenger hunt, or do a web search for playful dates in your area.
⦁ Learn how to juggle. There are a million YouTubes on this or ask a friend or family member to teach you.
⦁Go to VolunteerMatch.Org and see how you can help either virtually or in-person COVID-19 volunteer opportunities
⦁ Volunteer, Donate, and Report Hate against Asian Americans
⦁ Educate yourself and have difficult conversations about race, gender, and equal rights.
⦁ Buy a gift card to a local small business. This gives them revenue today, even if you don’t use it right now.
⦁ Order from small and local restaurants for delivery or take-out. Make it a date night, a gals night, or support a bromance.
⦁ Even when getting take out consider giving a tip, and a bigger one than usual if you can swing it. If not, don’t stress! By supporting the business you are supporting its workers.
⦁ You can volunteer at your local food bank, and it may look different than pre-Covid-19 days. You may even be able to help virtually!
⦁ Send a card or a letter to a business or organization that you appreciate. Let them know that they matter to you and your community.
⦁ Pull out that dusty instrument and schedule a music class. Or try a new instrument altogether. Music is wonderful for relieving stress.
⦁ Subscribe to Wikipedia’s featured article list.
⦁ Subscribe to feeds like “Did you know” and “Tell me why?”
⦁ Ask around for your friend’s favorite podcasts. Check out a podcast I did with Fertility Forward on Trauma and Infertility!
⦁ Customize your learning experience while keeping a flexible schedule with lots of online learning opportunities through your local community college.
⦁ Practice those therapy skills and learn about a friend or family member. Remember to attentively listen with the goal to understand their experience, not judge it, and not interject with your views or opinions.
⦁ Boost your confidence by browsing YouTube for job interview tips to help you land a new job, or ask for a raise!
⦁ Libraries are open for curbside pickup in most places. Check with your library for up-to-date info and options. Check out a new read for yourself and the kiddos!
⦁ Subscribe to the New York Times online to stay current with important issues, fun reads, and games.
⦁ Fuel curiosity and reading confidence with EPIC! An online reading library for kids of all reading levels. GetEpic.com
⦁ Start adding in 10 minutes of reading before bed. Lower the lights and give it a go! For some people, this is enough to help them drift into a wonderful sleep.
⦁ Replace your email first thing in the morning habit with a reading habit. Start your day with a chapter, or article. See how it feels.
⦁ Follow “bookstagram” accounts on Instagram.
⦁ Embrace audiobooks with Audible or other Apps that read to you.
⦁ Repurpose an old jar to decorate and use as a gratitude jar. Practice daily gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for and putting them in the jar. Take things out often and relive the memory, or save them up for a fun new Year’s eve tradition.
⦁ Shop at a craft store online or in-person with a mask and socially distanced for fun crafting ideas and supplies.
⦁ Invite friends to a Pinterest bake-off. Mine never looks like the professionals but that’s part of the fun.
⦁ Practice making family films with IMovie or other movie-making apps and programs.
⦁ Use watercolor paint to make a card for someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Slap a stamp on the back and mail it as is with a short note.
⦁ Check out Kiwi Crates and all the fun and amazing things they have to offer. They even have a crate for any age!
⦁ Put on music and draw, paint, sculpt, or whatever! See how different music influences your creations.
⦁ Start your day by getting dressed. Yes, pants too! And shoes! Ok, not every day, but on days you want to spark a pep in your step, get dressed.
⦁ Plan to organize a closet each week until you are done. Get rid of things that are cluttering your storage.
⦁ Start a garden. Take note of the time you would have to dedicate to gardening and pick your garden accordingly. If you have very little time to tend to it, start small and with low maintenance items.
⦁ Team up with family members for chore day. Make a list of chores that need to be done and allow each person to choose one, two, or three tasks. Make them easy enough for everyone to feel successful.
⦁ Revamp your resume for job searches.
⦁ Have a potluck at the park or your back yard while wearing a mask and socially distanced. Ask each person to bring a dish that reminds them of their childhood.
⦁ Open a recipe book to a random page and make that dish!
⦁ Challenge yourself to make a meal with as many colors as possible.
⦁ Have a blind taste test with a food item. See what brand you like best.
⦁ Take an online cooking class with your significant other, or best friend.
⦁ Make cupcakes for no reason at all. Spend some time decorating one or all of them.
⦁ Know when it’s your turn to get the vaccine.
⦁ Guidelines for those who are vaccinated.
⦁ CDC guidelines for staying safe.
⦁ Get your questions answered.
⦁ The importance of emotional health during a pandemic
⦁ Supporting family members who have lost someone to COVID-19
⦁ National Suicide Hotline
⦁ LifeLine Chat
⦁ Contact your primary care Dr. if you are not in crisis. Tell them about your mood and how you are feeling. They can help, or point you in a direction that gets you closer to help.
⦁ Teen and Youth Help Hotline
⦁ Trevor Project Trans helpline
⦁ Schedule a therapy session with one of our counselors.
Follow us on Instagram at @JoelleRabowMaletis for creative daily masked self-care ideas. Post a masked selfie or picture of you getting out there and having fun even while social distancing and wearing a mask anywhere on social media using #100daysofmasksandselflovechallenge. Don’t forget to tag us so that we can follow along with you!
By Joelle Rabow Maletis & Andrea Shipman