Summer is in full swing, but not much about it feels normal or predictable this year. Across the nation, many of us are still hunkering down in our homes instead of enjoying the usual activities we look forward to this season. Rather than travel plans, beach days, block parties and music festivals, we’re in need of socially distant alternatives to fill our time right now. While that might require some creativity and flexibility, it’s possible to be safe and have fun in these balmy months ahead. So move aside, COVID-19—here are four activities to include on this year’s summer agenda!
Organize a Staycation with Your Family
With the lack of structure, long hours spent inside and over-consumption of the news, chronic fatigue and stress are two main byproducts of quarantine, Cleveland Clinic warns. Whether you are an essential worker, a first-time remote employee or a parent with restless kids, this exhaustion can be overwhelming to cope with. And that’s where a “staycation” comes in. Whether you choose to unplug at home or rent a local Airbnb for the week, this is an opportunity to recharge—in both mind and body—from all the tension of these past several months. Silence your mobile devices, tune out the media, pause any work obligations and reconnect as a family. Pull out the board games, tackle a craft project, learn to make pizza from scratch or build your own ice cream sundaes.
Create a Movie Theater in the Backyard
If you want a break from the usual Netflix couch marathon, an outdoor movie night is just the change of routine and scenery to make it feel like summer. All you need are speakers and a projector (Amazon has several), a white canvas or sheet, a blanket or lounge chairs, and a bowl of popcorn. Follow this quick DIY tutorial, and in less than an hour, you will be watching a film under the stars. If you don’t have a backyard, another unique and creative spin on movie night is to build a makeshift pillow fort in the living room and stream your favorite show or flick in there. Both are fun departures from the traditional binge, and if you drizzle melted chocolate right over the popcorn, no one has to know about it—except maybe your kids, but chances are, they’ll think the idea is genius.
Host a Poker Night at Home or Online
The emotional drain of not seeing your friends or relatives is hard, but if everyone feels comfortable and observes the CDC’s list of safety precautions, you can reunite some of the crew with a poker night. To be safe, limit the group number to less than 10 and request that each person invited wear to a mask and not to come if they feel sick. But once these health measures are taken care of, then comes the fun part—coordinating the snacks and music playlist, determining the specifics of gameplay, and making sure all other preparations are in order. If you’re unable to have a poker night at home, you could also recruit your friends for a virtual tournament. Choose a poker website to host your game, start a Zoom chat for visual interaction, then play and banter to your heart’s content.
Escape the Indoors for a Dose of Nature
Whether you live near a wildlife preserve or a national park, immersing yourself in nature can help to relieve anxiety, depression and loneliness, based on research in the Science Advances Journal. In the midst of COVID-19—when tensions are high and moods are low— it’s more crucial than ever to find activities that increase your mental health, and most local or state ordinances have not restricted public access to nature. So lace those hiking boots, pack sandwiches for a picnic and embark on an afternoon of trailblazing. Or load your tent and camping essentials in the car and make it an overnight excursion. Either way, all that fresh air in your nostrils and green earth under your feet are sure to feel restorative after so much time this year within the same four walls of your house.
What fun and safe activities have you done so far this summer to beat the stress of COVID-19? Have you tried any of these ideas, or can you think of other recommendations worth adding to the list? Please share your feedback in the comment section below!