Help me with my pandemic fatigue.
December 1, 2020 6:10 PM   Subscribe

I'd like your best ideas on activities to stay busy and occupied, including but not limited to interesting websites (some interests below). Really, the more odd the better. I've been doing well and the vaccine news is heartening, but I am getting a little squirrelly and would like all your good suggestions. Both of my jobs went away due to Covid-19, and I have no idea if/when they will return.

I try to keep a schedule/routine of sorts, with varying success.

I got a bicycle about 3 months ago and have been riding it more or less 5 days a week, exploring trails.
I have tons of books and netflix/hulu but it turns out you can only watch so much TV :-). (I didn't really watch TV before the pandemic.)

I'm also enjoying Atlas Obscura, and web sites to nearby museums I'll want to go back to when it's possible.

I went to one art museum here. There weren't but about 5 people there. I made the mistake of telling the ATM repairmen "it goes above your nose" and he started in on how he'd been going around maskless for 6 months and never got sick. Well, well done you.

I inquired of a friend about another local museum and she said it was "hard to distance and made her uneasy." Everywhere you go people are clueless about their body space!

But I'm not feeling much like going anywhere indoors with the numbers going up.

My favorite things are road trips, churches, church dinners, county fairs, flea markets, quilts, small towns, art museums and photographing all the above. I also document cemeteries and rivers (photograph as well research names, etc) around here. I like state parks. Besides the obvious no-nos, everything depends on how long I can go without needing to go to the bathroom. (I'm not against going in nature, if the opportunity presented itself, but nor do I want to get a ticket or worse.)

I've started studying astronomy. I have a car so I can go places.

The snow doesn't usually fly here in earnest til January or so, so I have some time left outdoors.

Again, the quirkier the better!
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
I've taken several writing classes online (University of Iowa Writer's Workshop).
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock at 6:12 PM on December 1, 2020

Geocaching! Seek! Go find things and keep track of them!
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:31 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

There are many citizen science projects that might tickle your interest. My favorite is Eyewire which uses a game-like interface to map complex brain neurons.

Zooniverse is a kind of a universal portal for many different projects involving life sciences, from "tagging" animals on trail cams to transcribing old science journals.
posted by muddgirl at 6:31 PM on December 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

I bet you're already doing it, but Find a Grave photography.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:32 PM on December 1, 2020 [7 favorites]

I think I'm going to give geocaching another shot. I go on long walks anyway and I don't think I'd mind having some no-stakes goals to go along with it. On a couple very quick forays this weekend I learned some neat stuff about my neighborhood from the caches.
posted by jameaterblues at 6:32 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm wondering if people have any suggestions for when snow starts flying in OP's January also? (Because I'm also particularly interested.)
posted by mostly-sp3 at 6:43 PM on December 1, 2020

Splendid! More, please.
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock at 6:45 PM on December 1, 2020

If you like (making) quilts, you can hand-piece basically anywhere.
posted by janell at 6:51 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Virtual museums. It’s not the same but this way you can also see some of the ones you may be less likely to get to in person soon. Via Google here, lots more ideas and links here. To give yourself some structure, I’d set aside time 3-5 days a week to wander a museum and then pick a piece that particularly strikes you to go down a Wikipedia (or other source) rabbit hole researching the piece, the artist, the historical context, etc. Blog about it or share what you learn with a friend/family member who also loves art and would love to do this with you.

Lots of churches are having online services these days, which offers you at least a glimpse of the interior, plus the service of course. As a former fill in parish administrator, I’d totally FaceTime a friendly stranger and show them around, especially if it were a local historian/photographer who might come visit later and take awesome photos. Most churches will post their history online as well if that’s interesting.

More photography. Give yourself a photo a day challenge. Here are some prompts for December (Pinterest link, another set, another one). Continue into January. Post on Instagram or exchange with a photography loving friend to keep you honest. Use it as a way to teach yourself new skills - get really esoteric about light balance or perfect your bokeh or whatever. All three of these can be done inside when it’s too cold.
posted by bananacabana at 7:10 PM on December 1, 2020

I met a friend I'd only seen once since the pandemic started at the local botanical garden. It was a lovely outing.

Any of these sites near your home? (I'm sure many are duplicated in Atlas Obscura but may have additional ideas.

Get into architecture history? Find local examples of the different types of architecture that interest you to photograph?

Garden tours?

(Of course it's up to you but my understanding is a brief trip to a single occupancy bathroom with your mask on is very low risk)
posted by latkes at 7:11 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Since you mentioned astronomy, you can contribute to Project PHaEDRA and help transcribe historic astronomical notebooks!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:16 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Watching Rick Steves got me through a pretty hard month. I know you said you can only watch so much TV, but this scratched that "I need to go somewhere and do something" itch in a way that nothing else did, and he is so kind and good that I needed it.
posted by General Malaise at 7:30 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

The category that I see missing from your list is socialization. Obviously that is a limited context these days but phone call walk and talks are one of my favorite things that keep me sane and are still feasible (if anyone has advice on headphones that work best or putting the mic inside your mask in interested!).

I also really love planning ahead for future adventures- not theoretical ones, but ones I really do intend to take. It helps me think of a future, makes me feel like my time is well spent on something and gets me motivated.
posted by raccoon409 at 7:40 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

About a decade ago a partner introduced me to kite flying, which I never really did as a kid. It is ridiculously fun! You can go cheap ($9.99 drugstore kite) or fancy ($30-100+ sporty kites), easy single-line diamond or box kite you just let lazily fly or challenging double-line stunt kite, or branch off entirely into making your own. It can be a surprising amount of exercise, or if you're not up for that (I'm frequently not), once you get it in the air you can just stake the line in the ground and watch it soar.

There's just something so dang pleasant about hanging out flying kites, whatever direction you take it in.

And it's a nice activity to combine with biking--strap the kite onto your rack or stick it in your backpack, and bike to somewhere suitable for flying. Seeking out those places can take up a good amount of time and you get to discover new routes and places along the way.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:02 PM on December 1, 2020 [9 favorites]

You could build models, or a small diorama of a church and a cemetery.
posted by nickggully at 9:30 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ooh this is such a good question!! Here are some of the things I'm doing and more.

My wife just got me a subscription to the BroadwayHD channel on Amazon Prime, and we have been watching recordings of the many, many musicals they have on there. If you are at all interested in musicals, it is really fun to have a night in with popcorn and treats and a Broadway show.

If you have any interest in spirituality or divination, this would be a great time to find a tarot or oracle deck that you're drawn to and start learning about it. There are some really beautiful decks that I have that honestly I could probably study until forever and never learn all there is to know about them. I love The Wild Unknown tarot and TWU Archetypes deck created by the artist Kim Krans.

I have always wanted to have the time to learn the art of hand lettering but have never done it. It is very beautiful and doesn't have to take a ton of money and materials to start.

My best friend joined a virtual choir and while she was skeptical about it at first, she has found that she really loves it! It feels good to her to gather and sing with other people.

Bullet journaling, art journaling, morning pages, any kind of journaling practice!

I am sure I will think of more. This is a great question!
posted by fairlynearlyready at 10:07 PM on December 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

Try Ingress or Pokemon Go for something different to do when walking or biking. Ingress focuses on public art, most of it is outdoors, perhaps you would enjoy photographing some outdoor art.

Online, I like to do "virtual tourism", read a bit about a place that seems interesting and use google maps streetview to "go for a walk". Check out the photos people submit from the tops of hills and landmarks, they are often full panoramas. City streets are also interesting for scenes of daily life. You can go as far as you like with this if anything really strikes your fancy and try cooking the foods of a particular area at home or learning a language.

I see someone else mentioned Rick Steves, would combine well with that or with Atlas Obscura.
posted by yohko at 10:41 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Build your own playable hurdy gurdy at home.
posted by mani at 2:49 AM on December 2, 2020

Okay, this is gonna sound wacky, and it does cost money, but I’ve found that there are some amazing paint by numbers out there now! Plus, if you get one that’s really intricate, it will easily take hours to finish. I like to combine this with podcasts or movies for peak distraction.

A local craft teacher has been doing only free crafternoons once a month. Just people bringing whatever they’re working on to the zoom and chilling together. Whatever you’re working on, that could be a good opportunity to be around some other folks.

Also a little out there, but finding a YouTube groove of creators you enjoy can be more satisfying than regular tv. Whatever you’re in to, I can practically guarantee there are content creators that make videos for it!
posted by itsamermaid at 4:59 AM on December 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

Legos. After you build the model on the box, there's Rebrickable and other sites to make *other* things with the same parts. I've enjoyed the hell out of the "Creator 3-in-1" Deep Sea Creatures. Get two of the sets (12 bucks at Target), and you can make seven different whales out of the pieces!
posted by notsnot at 5:42 AM on December 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

For quirky use of unlimited free time, you really can't beat learning sleight of hand magic, a skill which you can then use to make the world a little more wonderful.
posted by athirstforsalt at 5:53 AM on December 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is not quirky but maybe learning or improving on a language? The Alliance Francaise, Instituto Cervantes (Spanish), and Italian Cultural Institute offer courses at all levels, and the one that I take has moved to Zoom so a person wouldn't need to be local to the Institute to enroll. I don't know that every individual branch has moved courses online but a quick survey shows that many have. They all offer lectures and workshops on other topics too (wine, art/museums, literature, etc.).
posted by CheeseLouise at 7:03 AM on December 2, 2020

You might enjoy some of the interesting rabbit holes of Messy Nessy Chic.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 7:41 AM on December 2, 2020

A friend of mine has been soothing her pandemic fatigue by watching travel bloggers on YouTube, which has worked wonders for her. This is her blogger of choice, but of course there's practically an infinite variety of videos and creators out there.

My hobby of choice has been music -- I'm learning to play electric bass and also just picked up an acoustic guitar. It's so much fun; it's a solo hobby at least until I get a bit better; and it engages both sides of my brain in a really satisfying way.
posted by mekily at 8:06 AM on December 2, 2020

You could make grave rubbings.

When the days turn dark and cold you could fashion a really interesting quilt from the rubbings.

Also, you might like these websites:


The Browser

posted by 6thsense at 8:10 AM on December 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Getting into birdwatching seems like it would fit right in with some of your other interests.
posted by thebots at 10:49 AM on December 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Candle-making. Build your own sauna. Knit a blanket.
Every Sunday I check out the New York Times' At Home section and get ideas for the coming week.
posted by sugarbomb at 12:05 PM on December 2, 2020

YouTube has many videos that teach you self-working card tricks, which are exactly what they sound like-if you follow the directions, the trick works itself. No sleight of hand skill needed.

A very impressive one is The Final 3 by Mismag822. Someone picks three cards, they place them back in the deck one card at a time, and pick as many cards as they want to cover them. You move through the deck in two piles, one face up, one face down. After doing this several times, their three cards are the last three cards in the deck. It's much more impressive than my description. Go watch the video. The people I have performed it for have been amazed.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:00 PM on December 2, 2020

I walk a lot and often see small painted rocks on my walks. Sometimes I admire them from afar, and other times I turn them over and see a URL or Facebook link that says "share a photo!" or something along those lines.

If you're artistically inclined, or even if you're not, you may enjoy painting rocks and leaving them for people to find.

Ladybugs are a classic, but last night I thought how cool would it be to paint the flags of the world on them?! Or, some other theme that works en masse.

I found a series of poppies around Remembrance Day which I thought was a sweet and thoughtful gesture.
posted by nathaole at 8:29 AM on December 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wonderful ideas, and I'm going to use some of them right now, and some of them in the days to come. (A good friend plays accordion, and I'm suddenly thinking that would be fun to learn. (But maybe very complicated?)

I really appreciate it ya'll. I'm glad mefi leaves this open in case anyone else gets inspired.
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock at 8:26 PM on December 3, 2020

The geocache app is free, but you have to upgrade ($21.99-$50) to see practically anything. Can anyone help me with this in the way of a code? I think I'm going to like it, but I'd like to try it first.
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock at 12:06 PM on December 4, 2020

I have a paid subscription, so I could be wrong, but there should be free traditional caches in your area unless you’re very rural or live in a national park. If you want to memail me your town I could send you a screenshot showing what caches are there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:53 PM on December 4, 2020

Re: Geocaching it is so very fun, but I’ve also become enamored with letterboxing. Very similar to geocaching except each box contains one or more stamps. You stamp them into your letterboxing journal and then leave your mark in the box’s book. People get very into carving their own stamps. If you’re artistic, it’s also a great opportunity to hide your own boxes!
posted by itsamermaid at 8:23 PM on December 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Every Sunday I check out the New York Times' At Home section and get ideas for the coming week.

Just popping by to mention that this Ask was featured in yesterday's At Home newsletter! Good work, hive mind.

Something I've been doing recently, as a parallel activity to my decluttering efforts, is putting together care packages for distant friends. I might include a hand-me-down sweater, book, or household item that I want to pass on to the right person. I stick it in a box with a notecard and a baked good and send it off. It has been a fun way to reconnect and surprise someone with a random gift, and is helping me burnish my neglected letter-writing skills.
posted by missmobtown at 8:59 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]

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