Take a Break from Screens with These Stress-Relieving Activities

Whether you’re living in San Francisco, Barcelona or Illinois, people’s lives have never been more similar. We’re sharing common concerns, about the health and safety of our loved ones, about the security of our jobs, about what a post COVID-19 future looks like. And while the new coronavirus is a great unifier, it would be nice to get a break from it even for a little bit, which is nearly impossible if you’re on your phone or computer. Even for those not actively seeking out news, someone will be posting on Facebook, or you’ll receive an email from a hotel you don’t remember staying at talking about the status of a points program in “this time of uncertainty.” Try unplugging when it’s not impossible and opt for some analog activities to help alleviate your anxiety. Here are some suggestions that are engaging and good for you too.

Assemble a Jigsaw Puzzle

A favorite pastime and fixture of every upstate cabin, there’s no better time to start chipping away at a puzzle. Not only are they a great way to connect with your family, solving a puzzle also helps improve your short-term memory among a host of other benefits. We love this one from Lemonade Pursuits that’s specifically designed to quiet the mind — not only is it made in the USA and eco-friendly, but this woman-owned company gives 10% of every dollar spent  to support female artists.

Photo courtesy of Magda Ehlers/Pexel.

Solve a Crossword Puzzle

Yes, more puzzles. While jigsaw puzzles are great, sometimes making enough space for them can be a challenge and sadly, sometimes pieces get lost — leading to the opposite of calm! Crossword puzzles require no extra space, help you expand your vocabulary and combat onset of Alzheimer’s. Check out this list to find which one best suits your skill set, print it and you’re good to go.

Get into Podcasts

All your friends are doing it. You hear them saying how they’ve turned off the TV and tuned in to podcasts — a brave new world full of any kind of content you can imagine: history, comedy, fiction, music, politics. Instead of watching, they are now listening — and loving it. You’ve also heard your friends mention the strange and enticing show titles, but what were they? Here is our list of some top podcasts you can start bingeing right now, including a few for the kids. Extra points if you fold laundry or wash dishes while listening.

Organize your Life

Clutter can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can increase tension and anxiety and lead to unhealthy habits, so why not reduce clutter and anxiety in one swoop? Marie Kondo’s principles — which she calls the KonMari Method — don’t adhere to a “less is more” philosophy but instead encourage the keeping of items, as long as they spark joy. She says, “In my home, I’m surrounded by my favorite things, including 15 pairs of chopstick rests.” Learn about the KonMari Method in four (seemingly) simple steps here. Also consider cleaning out your inbox and organizing apps on your phone.

Entertain a Green Thumb

Are the photos of empty store shelves giving you anxiety? How could they not be. The good news is that almost anyone can grow good eats, whether you have a small balcony or rolling acres. And by planting produce you save money, conserve energy resources, reconnect with the earth and help teach the younger generation where food actually comes from. Here are tips to consider before sowing the first seed or digging the first hole.

Try Birding

Scores of people across the country are looking out their windows, observing the natural world more than ever. Make gazing productive and embrace birding, one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in the country. According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey, there’s been a 9 percent increase in the people who observe wildlife (most of them birders) from 2001 to 2011. Jeff Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, says he’s seen his membership grow by almost 10 percent. The only problem, he says, “is that no one can quite agree what the definition of a birder is.” It could be the person who hangs a bird feeder in her backyard or the retiree who travels the world in the hopes of spotting rare plumage. Learn more about it here.

Try any new hobbies? We’d love to hear about them, tag us on social media and let us know.


For more ideas for indoors activities from Better:

Quarantine Book Club: How to Start A Virtual Book Club

Panic Baking? Delicious Recipes to Keep Your Hands (And Mind) Busy

The Best Free or Low-Cost Online Courses to Take Right Now

Marie Kondo: How to Change Your Life Through Tidying


Kasia PowlowskaKasia Pawlowska loves words. A native of Poland, Kasia moved to the States when she was seven. The San Francisco State University creative writing graduate went on to write for publications like the San Francisco Bay Guardian and KQED Arts among others prior to joining the Marin Magazine staff. Topics Kasia has covered include traveltrendsmushroom hunting, an award-winning series on social media addiction, and loads of other random things. When she’s not busy blogging or researching and writing articles, she’s either at home writing postcards and reading or going to shows. Recently, Kasia has been trying to branch out and diversify, ie: use different emojis. Her quest for the perfect chip is a never-ending endeavor.