Six productive ways to spend your time during coronavirus isolation

As we all hunker down to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, here are a few ways you can cope and stay productive for sanity’s — and humanity’s — sake.

1. Take free online classes

Your mediocre SAT scores may not have gotten you into the Ivy League school of your dreams (don’t feel bad – mine didn’t either), but the internet doesn’t give a hoot about aptitude tests. You now can take online courses from the likes of Harvard, Columbia and Princeton, among other top institutions, without paying a dime or leaving the comfort of your home. More than 450 free courses are available in a collection on Class Central (, in categories that range from computer science and engineering to humanities and art and design. Learn about the United States health policy (which is more topical than ever in these wild times we’re living in), take an intro to classical music, or brush up on Buddhism and modern psychology. You’ll also find LGBTQ courses, including the titles “Queering Identities: LGBTQ+ Sexuality and Gender Identity” and “Monitoring the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons.”

2. Get a head start on your taxes

The IRS postponed the tax deadline, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your time off to get your financial life in order. Doing it now will help avoid the crunch later, provide your accountant a head start before everyone makes their own mad dash, and it’ll be one less burden hanging over your head during this already stressful time of extreme uncertainty. You likely won’t get much assistance from library resources this year considering the wide-ranging closures, which is something to consider if that’s help you typically rely on.

3. Hit some of your local trails and practice other self-care

Curfews have been instituted in several states already — and that practice shows no sign of slowing as COVID-19 continues to spread widely and rapidly. While social distancing has been encouraged, it doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in the house for the foreseeable future. There’s always nature, and it’ll do you good to get out and stay active so long as you’re not spreading germs with person-to-person contact or congregating in groups. Take a private hike, clear your mind, and recognize that this temporary interruption in our lives is just that — temporary. Fresh air and sunshine will be necessary to fight the doom and gloom of news and social media. Other self-care to practice includes getting regular exercise (gyms like Planet Fitness are offering free streaming workout class to members and non-members alike), maintaining proper hygiene (take a shower and get dressed every day), and treating yourself to mind- and body-soothing activities like at-home facials, partner massages, meditation and yoga.

4. Update your resume and plan new goals

If you’ve been considering a career change, take this time to update your resume and set new goals. It may take a while for the economy to get back on track after this crisis has ended, but we will bounce back, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be prepared to hit the ground running when we do.

5. Finish your home projects

Have any half-finished projects around the house? Most of us do. Grab what you need from the hardware store and get to work.

6. Unplug from all your devices a few hours every day

The worst way to spend your time during this recommended period of self-isolation is with your face buried in a phone or television while your hands are shoveling snacks. Constant inundation of negativity combined with inactivity will only make you feel worse — if not increase your paranoia — and nobody needs that. Limit yourself on screen time, look around to see what you can accomplish in your safe space (a clean, organized home will immediately improve your mood — I promise), and resolve to focus on the positive. It may not seem like it on the surface, but there’s still plenty of that left if you look for it right where you are.Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He currently lives in his van, saving money and traveling the country. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.

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