I never thought there would come a time in my life that I was grateful for toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, and facial tissue. A time when a container of Purell was more desired than those cute Jimmy Choo wedge sandals I drooled over last month.
But this is reality right now. Social Distancing.
As an only child, I learned how to be comfortable alone. As a young adult I often went on long walks by myself, ate alone at restaurants, and was happy to be in solitude with a good book. When my children were babies I treasured an hour alone to simply take a shower or lie on the couch. I shouldn’t mind social distancing and truthfully, with my house overflowing with kids right now, I hardly consider myself all that distanced.
Right now I’m busy preparing meals and doing all the laundry the kids brought back with them. Yet soon I will have quite a bit of social distancing “downtime” and I will be very tempted to spend it online shopping.
All of us will be looking for ways to brighten our mood, pass the time, and provide hope that the day arrives soon when we can once again fearlessly be out mingling with the crowds. And thank goodness we still have the internet to connect us (although a little distancing from Facebook and the News sites might be wise).
For us overshoppers, the extra free time we now have presents a big challenge. No disease specialist or government official has warned us about online shopping. There are no internet shopping bans or mandatory online site closures. In fact, as soon as people starting to panic they looked to Amazon for supplies! We are going to need to enforce our own online shopping restrictions.
Several shopping triggers such as depression, boredom, anxiety, and the need to hope for brighter days may start to arise and can easily have us clicking away and making impulsive purchases. It is important to be mindful of this. Understand that it is normal to feel what you’re feeling, but recognize that you can choose your actions and how you are going to deal with any rising shopping triggers.
Here are 10 suggestions of things to do online that do not include any compulsive visits to your favorite retailer’s website:
1. Read a digital book or listen to an audible book.
I have a backlog of books downloaded on my iPad Kindle app that I’ve yet to start reading. I’ve always loved reading and I am actually excited knowing that I will finally have some time to sit with a cup of tea and read (in between loads of laundry). I may even form a facebook Book Club with some friends who are interested in the same books as me.
2. Take an online course on something you’ve always been interested in.
Several sites exist such as Coursera and Udemy where you can take a variety of courses and many of them are free. Even the courses that charge a fee are likely still cost effective if they keep you from shopping! Over the years, I've enrolled in many online writing classes from Gotham Writers (https://www.writingclasses.com) and have enjoyed and gained knowledge from every one of them. Depending on the course, it can be another way to stay connected with others right from your own home office (in my case the couch).
Gyms are closed, we can’t attend our group fitness classes, but we need to ensure we continue to remain active and not turn into couch potatoes. I still plan on biking and taking daily walks, but I am also looking for some online options to help keep me in shape. Right now many companies are offering free online fitness videos such as Planet Fitness. One google search lists oodles of various type of fitness routines out there…YouTube is a great place to start searching for something you might enjoy! Why not be “beach body ready” for when we can actually go to a crowded beach?
4. Start a journal
Write about your own personal experience during this crazy time. Not only will it be nice to have a recollection of this historic time period, but our future selves can benefit from it as a reminder to appreciate what we have and not take anything in life for granted. An added bonus is that expressing our feelings has shown to alleviate stress and anxiety. You can simply use Word, or Pages to create your journal or use the services of an online site such as www.onlinejournal.com or penzu.com.
5. Play a game!
Why Not? Of course there's the infamous CandyCrush and Plant Versus Zombies (actually a lot of fun) games, but there are also plenty of mind challenging games out there too. Many of these games are free, although you might have to endure some advertising for the free versions. I enjoy doing word games and puzzle games such as Scrabble, Wordscape, and Jigsaw puzzle. You can also stay connected with friends by playing Words With Friends!
6. Increase your use of Facetime, email or texting!
Hopefully you are already doing some of this, but did you know you can do a group Facetime as well. Set up a time for your friends to all see each other and chat at the same time (definitely a bring your own beverage kind of event).
7. Take a Virtual Tour
It certainly doesn’t compare to the real thing, but nonetheless, it beats staring at the same four walls. Here is a link to a Travel and Leisure article listing online tours of many areas and museums. If nothing else, you are bound to pass some time and learn something new!
8. Stream a show you’ve always wanted to see, but never had time for.
Now is the time to catch up on some of those great series you’ve heard about. I personally love Outlander, Downtown Abbey, Poldark, Call The Midwife, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. My son recommended AppleTV’s The Morning Show which I loved and my daughter has now suggested I watch Manifest.
9. Have fun with Pinterest.
This is a great place to find new recipes to try and research a hobby to start. I’ve collected recipes, free crochet patterns, and both beauty and fashion ideas from Pinterest. I'm currently using Pinterest to find inspiration for a future haircut and also a color to. paint my living room.
Although listed last, this is the most important one to me and something the world desperately needs right now. And although you do not need an internet connection to pray, it can certainly be useful if you feel you need more direction or variety in your prayer life. Depending on your faith there are many websites with guided prayer videos, daily prayers to read and even online prayer services. As a Catholic, my favorite sites are www.catholic.org,
Usually in troubled times, we gather together to help each other and lean on one another, but now we are being instructed to do the exact opposite. Outside of your immediate household, there are no shoulders to lean on, hands to hold, hugs to give and it is certainly hard, scary and so very stressful. But Love transcends these physical limitations and we can still fill the world with Love, Hope and Faith.
Acknowledge your inner fears, but don’t let them control you, and don’t allow these troubled days to lure you back into a shopping trap. We can certainly reach out and support each other in so many other non-physical ways!
Stay strong and healthy!