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Calm your coronavirus stress with these relaxing activities

If you feel overwhelmed by the state of the world and need to relax, do these activities.

Caroline Roberts Digital Editorial Intern
Caroline Roberts writes articles and notifications for CNET. She studies English at Cal Poly, and loves philosophy, Karl the Fog and a strong cup of black coffee.
Caroline Roberts
5 min read

Take the time to relax while social distancing.

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If you're currently undergoing mandatory quarantine or self-imposed social distancing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, you've probably seen posts online about how this is the perfect time to get your life in order. Even CNET has plenty of articles about how to be productive, including staying on top of your exercise routine to cleaning your whole house

While focusing on productivity is helpful for some, many of us are struggling to just make it through these stressful times, and don't take much solace in reading about how to improve ourselves right now.

If this sounds familiar to you, I have good news -- there are plenty of activities you can do to help you feel grounded and less anxious. I spoke to Tara Martello, a meditation and mindfulness coach, who told me about how trying to be uber-productive adds unnecessary pressure to an already tense situation, and how we can institute basic meditative practices into our quarantined lives instead.

The most important message that Martello had to share was to be compassionate -- and that includes having compassion for yourself and others. We're all dealing with a survival situation, whether that be emotionally, economically or physically, and we can't beat ourselves up if we don't use this time to perfect our lives. Without further ado, here are eight quasi-meditative activities to do that will add a much-needed sense of calm to your routine (and they're fun, too).

1. Meditation

Meditation apps are an accessible way to institute a mindfulness regimen into your daily life. The grounding practice can be helpful during these stressful times, and you don't have to jump into hour-long sessions right away -- some apps (like Headspace) have 1-, 3- and 5-minute guided meditation options. 

Many services offer free trials, and the app Simple Habit is currently free through the end of April 2020 for support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: The best essential oil diffuser for 2020   

2. Coloring

Adult coloring books (no, not that kind -- these are just slightly more advanced versions of children's coloring books) have been popular for a while now. Coloring is a simple, repetitive activity that'll help you disconnect from the never-ending news cycle -- Martello says it'll help you reach the meditative state of flow where you're not thinking about anything else. Throw on your favorite music, pour a hot cup of tea and get ready to fill in the most intricate patterns you've ever seen.

You can also download any number of coloring book apps. ColorMe, a free app, is available for Android and iOS.

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3. Reading

Now is probably not the time to finally tackle "Anna Karenina" or read anything about post-apocalyptic worlds, but it is a good time to pick up an uplifting book. Here's a helpful reading list for feel-good books, stories and poems -- just beware, if you're anything like me many of these titles will make you cry (but in a good way, I promise).

For free online books, check out Google Books or Smashwords for work from independent authors and publishers. Or, if you're more into short stories, Wattpad is your go-to.

Read more: 5 sunrise alarm clocks that will wake you up gently    


4. Crocheting

It's 2020, y'all -- crocheting isn't just for grandmas anymore. You may know crocheting as the lesser-esteemed sibling of knitting, but that's why I chose it. Knitting is too hard and frustrating to pick up during an already frustrating situation (and I may have personal grudges including a never-finished purple scarf).

If you don't already have a crocheting hook and yarn in the back of some drawer, you can order a beginners kit online. There's tons of helpful YouTube videos and guides to help you progress as well. Crocheting is nice because it's a simple, repetitive activity that you can easily get totally absorbed in. For maximum effect, put on some warm socks and a TV show you've already watched playing in the background.

Watch this: Coronavirus lockdown: Why social distancing saves lives

5. Puzzles

My family and I just started a 1,000-piece puzzle, and we instituted a rule that we can't talk about the virus or anything political while we're at the puzzle table. It sounds corny, but after 30 minutes working on our masterpiece we all notice how much calmer we are. At the end of the night it's hard to tear myself away from the table -- I've already entered that state of flow and don't want to leave.

If you're interested in starting a puzzle (and you can do them alone, too) check out Walmart's selection to be delivered to your home. You can also do jigsaw puzzles online, though I'd recommend trying to find a physical one first -- it's always helpful in times like these to unplug for a little bit.

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6. Cooking

Making food sometimes feels like a chore, but it can be a way to experiment and feel a small sense of accomplishment, all while doing something fun. Martello says that cooking can even be creative, and it is a great way to get back to our roots and focus on something simple.

If you haven't gone grocery shopping lately, don't worry -- there's plenty of delicious meals and yummy desserts to be made from the items shoved in the back of your pantry. And don't forget to enjoy whatever you end up making. Your diet can wait until this craziness is over.

7. Gardening

If you've decided to up your cooking game, you can easily grow fresh herbs inside of your home for a nice kick to your recipes. Here's a helpful guide to start growing fresh herbs at home -- you can even order all necessary components online. If you have the outdoor space, try growing vegetables, too.

Tending to something green will give you a taste of nature while you're stuck inside, and the small acts of caring for your plant can even count as self care.

8. Write

I'm not just saying this as an English major -- I swear, writing can really be fun. All you need is paper and a pen (or your computer) and some ideas. If you want to get creative, write a short story based on one of these prompts. Or, you can journal. Getting your thoughts and worries down on paper can help you see them with clarity. You can also use journaling as a way to identify unhelpful behaviors and process your anxiety in a healthier way.

When you start writing, don't feel like you're in school anymore. Feel free to get loose with the format -- stream of consciousness poetry, idea mapping and simply word vomiting are all fantastic options.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.