We all miss our friends and co-workers, am I right? It is super stressful to consider the growing COVID-19 crisis and the toll it will take on all of our wallets, not to mention our social lives. Despite the challenges, though, we have to STAY SOCIAL! Even while we are in quarantine. No one said anything about virtual social distancing. In fact, the CDC recommends taking time to unwind and connect with others as a way to manage stress and anxiety.1 Here’s how to do it for free and from at least six feet away:
1. Stream a live concert
Nothing relaxes the mind quite like listening to music. Fortunately many artists from classical to hip-hop are livestreaming free concerts now through April. You can access the concerts through common social platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. For an ever-growing list, check out NPR Music or Billboard.com.
Another site called Stageit has been a platform for lesser-known artists for years and is now seeing an uptick in featured shows. This platform helps to support an interactive experience through questions, requests, and live chat features.
To get the most social benefit from your virtual concert, invite friends to the event via social media and use a private online chat function or hashtag to share comments. And hey! At least you’re saving on fuel since you won’t be driving anywhere. And while many artists are accepting tips, you won’t have to pay the usual $90 or more for an in-person concert ticket.
To get you started on your new musical adventure, here are two upcoming concerts to consider:
2. Attend a workout class from your living room
Just because your workout room is closed doesn’t mean you get a pass on staying fit! In fact, the time you save from not driving anywhere means you now get even MORE time to burn that fat and build some serious muscle. Yippee. (Ugh.)
But seriously, keeping up on your health is more important now than ever before, so check out your local paper for lists of fitness centers in your area that are offering at-home workouts.2 Some online classes like yoga and Pilates are perfect for beginners and only require bare feet or a mat to keep your feet from sliding out from under you.
Many classes are available for free or donation-only through PayPal or Venmo, and you can stream the classes through Facebook, Zoom, Instagram, YouTube and more.
3. Watch a movie with friends using Netflix Party
You might not be chillin’ but we can all certainly Netflix and quarantine. So consider hosting or attending a Netflix Party with your friends online for some virtual socializing. The video will be synchronized so you’re all experiencing the drama at the exact same moment.
One obvious benefit of using Netflix Party is that it’s free! The only requirement is that viewers must have a Netflix account ($9 and up per month) and internet access to install a Chrome extension.
Quite possibly the best part of Netflix Party is the chatroom function. It allows for all the fun bells and whistles like user icons, nicknames, screenshots, emojis, and GIFS. It might not be as good as watching a show with your buddies in person, but it’s the next best thing.
Consider the following Netflix movies to get your mind out of crisis mode:
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- Incredibles 2
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
For a complete how-to on using Netflix Party, visit Netflixparty.com. And don’t forget the popcorn!
4. Host your own Facebook Live event
Hosting a live Facebook event is not limited to musicians. In fact, this can be a really wonderful and personal way to interact with a group of friends or family, especially if one of you is in quarantine.
To host an event, let your friends know you’ll be live on FB at a certain time to read a book, sing a song, or tell jokes. You can even create an event on FB ahead of time so your buddies get reminders to attend when you go live.
For a complete guide on using Facebook Live—including screen shots—visit HubSpot’s blog.
5. Challenge your friends to a Pinterest project
These are already challenging times to be sure, but healthy people can still use this time as an opportunity to improve ourselves so that when the dust settles, our bodies/homes/minds are in better shape than before.
To take your new goals social, create your own positive challenge on Pinterest and encourage your friends to share their results as well.
Here are some challenges to try:
6. Attend a virtual comedy show
It goes without saying that we all need more humor in our lives these days. If you can’t generate the giggles yourself, I recommend immersing yourself and your family in comedy.
Even though comedy clubs are closed to the public for the foreseeable future, many stand-up comedians, clubs and improv groups are offering livestream shows online for free or less than $20 per ticket.3
Here are some comedy shows you can attend now online:
- Jimmy Fallon’s “At Home Edition” on YouTube
- John Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” on Netflix
- Jim Gaffigan’s “Noble Ape” on Amazon Prime
7. Tour something inspirational
Okay, so you can’t/shouldn’t/won’t leave your house. You can still get inspired by the wonder of life! Lots of museums, zoos, and other public places are offering virtual tours or livestreams for free online.
Here are just a couple:
- Claude Monet’s Garden on YouTube
- Dallas Zoo Lioness Training Demo (and many more!) on Facebook under the hashtag #BringTheZooToYou4
Recap: Reach out to friends
No matter where your head is at these days, you are not alone. Reaching out to your community via the internet is not only possible, it is absolutely vital. On the bright side (and to be honest, we NEED a bright side), most of these online social activities are free or very, very cheap. So schedule your friend date now via Facebook or Pinterest, do a group hang with Netflix Party, or livestream something funny/inspiring/entertaining with your fellow couch potatoes. Take a deep breath. You got this.
1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (2020, March 14). Coronavirus Disease 2019, How to Prepare: Manage Stress and Anxiety. Retrieved from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html
2) Dickinson, G. (2020, March 18). Watch these yoga and fitness classes from Philly gyms and studios during coronavirus. Retrieved from The Philadelphia Inquirer: https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/fitness-class-streaming-video-coronavirus-philadelphia-yoga-pilates-hiit-bootcamp-barre-20200318.html
3) Deb, S. (2020, March 18). Open Your Laptops, the Comedy Show is About to Begin. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/arts/television/coronavirus-comedy-livestream.html
4) Padilla, M., Vigdor, N. (2020, March 18). Children Stuck at Home Can Still Explore the Zoo or Aquarium. Some Penguins Could, Too. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/us/coronavirus-zoos-webcams.html