How To Stay Busy At Home During The Coronavirus Outbreak — & Support Small Businesses At The Same Time

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
The coronavirus outbreak has created a lot of problems. One major negative effect of the pandemic is that small businesses are suffering. As more people are staying in, these establishments are losing customers and money, which is a big deal for small stores. Another (admittedly less pressing) issue that has arisen as a result of COVID-19 is that many of us suddenly have a lot more free time on our hands, and we don't know what to do with it. It turns out, there are several ways to tackle both these problems at once.
If social distancing has you stuck inside going stir crazy, there are several activities you can do to pass the time and keep yourself grounded, and many of those activities can be done with the help of local businesses. Ahead, you'll find our suggestions for how to stay busy during the coronavirus outbreak while also supporting small businesses in your area.
Advertisement

Watch a virtual show

Most venues, where plays, concerts, comedy shows, and more once took place, aren't filling seats at this time, which means they're missing out on a major source of revenue. The good news is, though, some of these venues have adapted to continue to bring their audiences wow-worthy performances through the power of live streaming. Head to the website or social media platforms of your favorite local venues and see if you can grab tickets to an upcoming virtual show. It may not be the same as an in-person night out, but watching a talented band or hilarious comic over Zoom makes for a pretty exciting evening in.

Take a virtual class

While gathering in a classroom might not be advisable right now, thanks to the power of the internet, classes of all kinds are still available. Learning something new and thinking critically are great ways to stave off cabin fever. Since many small language schools in the U.S. and abroad have been forced to shut down in-person sessions, look into how you can support them by signing up for virtual language classes.
If it's your body that needs exercising right now and not just your mind, check to see if local fitness studios are streaming sessions with instructors. It's tempting to sit in one spot all day when you have nowhere to be, but exercise is known to help with anxiety, and right now, many of us could use all the help we can get in that department.
Advertisement

Start a craft project

In the past, have you've bristled at the "what are your hobbies" question simply because you don't have time to do anything just for its own sake? Well, now you might actually have the bandwidth to pick up a hobby, and why not look to the arts and crafts arena? Find a small arts and crafts supply store in your area and purchase everything you'll need to create a masterpiece: think yarn and needles for knitting, needlepoint kits, or paints and canvases. If you're nervous about starting a new creative project, use the store as a resource — one of the best things about small businesses is that those who work at them are almost always extremely passionate about their area of expertise. They'll likely have advice on where you should start.

Do puzzles & play games

Another great way to put your brain to work is by doing a puzzle. Whether it's a traditional jigsaw or a book of Sudoku, puzzles are extremely stimulating, and they can be purchased at local game shops.
If you're looking to compete against someone other than yourself, get some board or card games from that small business. Ask the shopkeepers for their suggestions for the most invigorating and entertaining games that can include all your roommates.

Bake or cook something special

Instead of going straight to AmazonFresh for grocery deliveries, take the extra time — we know you have it or else you wouldn't be reading this article — to see if independent grocers or farmer's markets in your area are offering delivery. If so, order ingredients to cook something that's outside of your regular quick-dinner rotation.
Advertisement
Small specialty food stores might also carry baking kits that can help you whip up a treat you'd usually only ever buy at a fancy bakery. Instead of binging Great British Bake Off for the umpteenth time, get off the couch and make something spectacular yourself.

Read some books

All those books you've been meaning to read can finally get the attention they deserve. Reach out to your local book store to see how they're handling the coronavirus outbreak. If the show is delivering or open to quick pop-ins from a limited number of customers at a time, stock up on a pile of books and get to reading.

Start an indoor garden

It might seem surprising but one of the most effective ways to practice self-care is to take care of something other than yourself. With that in mind, this might be the perfect opportunity to start an indoor garden. Start your plant lady journey by reaching out to your local plant store to find out which type of greenery will do best in your home and if the store is offering delivery during this time. For those of us who don't have yards to escape into while still social distancing, becoming a plant mom will be especially rewarding.

Tackle a home improvement job

Is there an area of your home that you've long been wanting to fix up? Now is the time to take that project on. Install some shelves for to create a reading nook or hang a gallery wall. You could even build a whole home office space now that you won't be commuting into work again any time soon. Order all the supplies you need for this distracting home improvement job from your local hardware store and start the handiwork.
Advertisement
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
Related Content:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series