It’s no great secret that 2020 was a challenging year for many. The idea of self-isolation and quarantine were foreign to many of us before last year… and for a lot of people, it’s not been the easiest adjustment.
But the truth is that spending time alone doesn’t have to be a bad thing—especially in the age of COVID, when organizations everywhere are creating resources to make the most of your alone time. The options range from self-improvement and education… to hobbies and forming connections.
As the saying goes, time enjoyed is never time wasted!
Here are just a few of the resources available to explore for when you want to maximize your “me” time:
- Try meditation
Meditation has lots of benefits, including reducing stress, reducing blood pressure, and reducing cardiovascular disease risk, all of which can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’re interested in meditating, you can sign up for a two week free trial of Headspace. Headspace offers guided meditations, animations, articles, and videos online to help users meditate anywhere, anytime. Its meditations are designed to help users become less focused on fear and stress and more focused on positive emotions.
Aura is a similar platform in that it offers guided meditations, but it is totally free.
- Learn a new language
It’s never too late to learn a new language. In fact, proactively trying to learn a new language even as a senior can delay aging by making the brain more agile! That’s not to mention that learning a new language, whether it’s a word or a phrase each day, can open you up to the fun of discovering new cultures.
With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to start studying and practicing new languages. Interested in learning a new language? Check out Duolingo, a free language learning platform.
- Take a fitness class
Exercise can improve balance, strength and flexibility, mobility, and cognitive function, especially for seniors. And it can all be done from the comfort of your room.
Check out Eldergym, which offers a free 4-week exercise program in addition to detailed information about the best exercises and stretches for seniors. And seniors with a Medicare Advantage Plan might also qualify for the Silver Sneakers program at no cost, which offers online, on-demand workouts designed exclusively for seniors.
And of course, Spectrum communities all offer onsite wellness centers, with corresponding apps to help you complete your workouts. And since quarantine, many communities are now bringing their fitness classes online.
- Have a watch party
Do you love curling up on the couch and watching your favorite movies with your kids or grandkids? Well you still can, even under self-isolation, thanks to platforms like Netflix Party. Amazon Prime and Hulu also offer “Watch Party” features, which allows users to watch the same movie or show together (virtually), sharing in the experience together.
- Take a virtual museum tour
From the Louvre to the Vatican Museums, some of the most notable museums across the globe are open to visitors via digital tour. This means you can spend your free time checking out the Sistine Chapel! Other museums at least partially accessible for virtual tour include the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Spain, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. and more.
- Join (or start) a book club
Since the start of the pandemic, many local libraries have moved their classes and groups (like book clubs) online. If you’re interested in something a bit less local, PBS NewsHour—New York Times offers the “Now Read This” book club. You can join by signing up on the Facebook group page. You could even try starting a new book club by assigning a book to interested friends and then scheduling the discussion for a specific time via Zoom.
If you’re interested, residents across the Spectrum communities have recently been reading actor Matthew McConaughey’s memoir as part of the “Greenlights” book club.
- Try a virtual game night
An online game night can be the perfect way to have some virtual fun with your friends and loved ones. Games that can be played virtually include Pictionary and Charades (via Zoom). If you’re feeling tech savvy, you might also download the Monopoly or Uno app to play with friends, or even join virtual scavenger hunts (for a fee).
- Attend religious events online
Being an active part of a religious community is an important part of life for many people. And it can benefit seniors in a number of ways, including improving mood and outlook, sense of community, and even longevity. One positive result of the pandemic is that never before has it been so easy to attend a local service remotely. Many churches and places of worship have moved online to reach members, livestreaming videos on Facebook that can be watched in real-time or as a recording for viewing later on. You can search their local church’s webpage to find out how to participate.
- Create a masterpiece
Actively participating in creative activities can stimulate cognitive function, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve overall satisfaction. For those seeking a creative outlet, look no further than an Online Paint and Sip offered by Paint and Sip Studio New York. The platform offers pre-recorded classes, virtual live private parties, and screenshare private parties, and even mails the necessary supplies directly to attendees.
Several Spectrum communities have even begun organizing their own virtual art classes, so be sure to see if your community offers one!
And hey, if painting isn’t your speed, consider creating a culinary masterpiece with an online cooking or baking class. After all, the definition of art is up to the artist!
Heck, create your own art form, like Bob did with his leftover Styrofoam takeout containers.
- Take a Harvard course
With your free time, you might be interested in learning about a particular life-long subject interest. Look no further than free courses offered by Harvard. From science to history to politics to world religions, the offered courses can be taken for free with the option to pay a small fee for a Verified Certificate.
- Hangout regularly
Whether through a scheduled Zoom, Facetime, or Google Hangout, it is important to see family members. Today’s technology makes it more possible than ever, even with COVID-19 restrictions.
Adjusting from in-person to remote activities can be a challenge at any age. But, with COVID-19 precautions here to stay for the immediate future, now is the time to embrace opportunities for socialization and personal growth in new virtual formats.