As I talk with friends and family over the past few weeks, since the pandemic began, I hear people expressing their frustration at being “stuck at home”, saying they’re going “stir crazy” and other similar phrases. This is understandable, since we are used to coming and going as we please. For me, I actually find myself veering away from social media and searching for ways to stimulate my brain. Being stuck at home seems to have created a craving for brain stimulation. After all, the brain needs exercise, just like the rest of the body. Here is a list of 6 ways to stimulate your brain and keep it young, from Kwik Learning. With each recommendation, I’ve included ways you can do each activity from home, for free when possible.
- Try new things. This may prove difficult from home, but let me make a few suggestions.
- Learn a new language– This article from Livewire.com has a list of 14 free language learning software sites.
- Learn to cook– This article, from The Purple Almond Wellness Kitchen, includes a list of online cooking classes. While some in the list do cost money, there are several that are free including: Skillshare, Chef2chef, and The New York Times.
- Visit a museum – Many museums are offering free virtual tours. This article from mentalfloss.com includes a list of 12 museums around the world you can visit from home, including The Louvre, The Guggenheim, and The Met in New York.
- Read classic literature – Project Gutenberg is a non-profit online data base of free online e-books. Founded Michael Hart in 1971, it was the first organization to offer free online e-books. It has a huge database of literature. You are sure to find something of interest.
2. Exercise – Just as exercise is good for the heart and the rest of the body, it’s very good for the brain as well. Exercise is proven to decrease stress and depression which also slow brain function. Exercise also boosts mental ability, and focus, minimizing risk of damaged cells, which leads to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Here are some ways to exercise from home for free:
- Walk (and earn money for charity) – Walking is one of the healthiest exercises, it’s free AND it gets you out of the house. While you’re walking you can earn money for charity with the Charity Miles app. Once you download the app and choose a charity, all you have to do is move. The app lets you do anything from walking and running to dancing and biking. For each mile you move, Charity Miles donates money to your chosen charity. The amount per mile depends on the activity chosen.
- Take a free exercise class – If you prefer more organized exercise or you miss your gym, try a free online class. Here are a few places offering free classes: Planet Fitness, Blink Fitness, Orange Theory, and Gold’s Gym.
3. Volunteer – Yes you can volunteer from home. Cool right! My search yielded many results. Here are a few opportunities:
- Covia – This non-profit serves older adults. They are looking for people to help isolated elderly individuals through 1 on 1 friend matching, send cards/letters to 10 elderly adults, or simply donate money. Here is a short video…
- 7 Cups – This organization provides free emotional support via caring listeners. They are in need of volunteers who could fill this roll.
- Crisis Text Line – This non-profit is a 24/7 text line for people in crisis in the USA. They are in need of volunteer crisis counselors. If you are interested, follow this link.
- American Red Cross – Digital advocates are needed through The American Red Cross. Follow THIS LINK for more details.
- Be My Eyes – When you install the app on your phone, you will be “on-call” to help the visually impaired with everyday tasks, such as reading instructions, checking dates or other small jobs.
4. Be Social – Now, this one may be a bit more difficult, but in this technological age, there are things you can do. Here are a few suggestions on being social from the comfort and safety of home:
- Movie night – Netflix has a new service called “Netflix party”. It’s a free download which synchronizes movie playback with a chat feature.
- Book club – Facebook has many book club groups. I just joined a Nourished Reader book club and am awaiting reading the first book There are many other such groups on Facebook. Bustle.com has 10 tips for setting up your own book club.
- Virtual Happy Hour – If you miss meeting your friends for a nite on the town, host a virtual happy hour. Mydomaine.com has an article on this topic called “The Entertainer’s Guide to Hosting a Virtual Happy Hour”.
5. Get good sleep. – Working from home may lead us to slack off on our nighttime routine. However, it’s more important than ever to stick to a routine when it comes to bedtime. A good night’s sleep keeps the brain cell connections strong, helps us retain information and calms us. Poor habits lead to depression, bad memory and psychiatric problems. I’ve written a few articles on insomnia. Follow THIS LINK for more information.
6. Beat anger. This one is difficult under the best of circumstances. Social distancing and stay-at-home orders are not helping in this department. We need to do our best to alleviate stress and anger in our lives, especially now.
Stress and anger release the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These are processed in the brain before the rest of the body. I’ve written several articles on stress. follow THIS LINK for more details. Stress and anger increase heart rate, raise blood pressure, change brain structure, increase risk of mental illness and kill brain cells.
Under current circumstances, it’s difficult to avoid stress and anger, but you can manage it. Here are links to some articles to help alleviate stress
- stress relief tea
- 5 minute yoga fix
- Laughter therapy – 10 videos to lift your spirits and reduce stress
- A guide to daily life meditation
- How to calm down in 10 seconds
- Japanese method to relax in 5 minutes
You may be thinking now isn’t the time to be worrying about all of this. I beg to differ. It’s during times of stress that it’s imperative to take care of your brain. Anyway, taking the 6 steps listed above will help make your time in self-isolation that much easier…and you can bring joy to others at the same time.