10 ways to enjoy summer while social distancing

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Maggie Thornton

Gov. Beshear recently announced that Kentucky will begin reopening in phases, but social distancing guidelines still remain in effect, which means summer will still look different this year than it has in the past. With that in mind, trying to figure out how to spend those long summer days may seem like a challenge. While getting outside and going on hikes is always a great option, there are more creative ways to still enjoy your free time this summer while practicing social distancing:

1. Enroll in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

Many top universities offer free MOOCs that are self-paced and easy to access. MOOCs are different from regular classes because they are not for a grade and can be taken at any pace preferable. There are many interesting classes in all disciplines, so if you have always wanted to learn how to code or to use bitcoin or the science of happiness, this is a great option. MOOCs offer the ability to learn without the pressure of a regular semester. 

2. Virtual Babysitting

The Washington Post recently posted an article talking about a new phenomenon necessary for parents who are now facing the pressure of working at home and taking care of their children. Care.com and Urbansitter both offer virtual babysitting for parents, where babysitters can entertain or even tutor children through a video camera while parents work. For those who want to make money this summer to occupy their free time, this is a great option to do both, while also helping overwhelmed parents. 

3. Take a Virtual Tour 

For those who enjoyed spending their free time walking through the halls of museums and admiring the art or navigating their way through an aquarium or zoo so they can observe their favorite creatures, weep no more. Virtual tours are becoming increasingly popular, and many companies are offering them for free. Museums, zoos, aquariums, national parks and more are all offering the chance for you to experience everything they have to offer online. Even Kentucky’s own Buffalo Trace distillery is offering its own virtual tour with trivia. These virtual tours are a great way to fill all of the extra time many of us now have on our hands, while also learning and experiencing things we otherwise generally couldn’t.

4. Harry Potter at Home

Whether someone has never read Harry Potter or they’re mega fans who never want to stop reading it, JK Rowling recently launched an online hub for all to enjoy the series in a way never before. This new website offers many ways to quell boredom with its many games, trivia, articles and more. One of the most attractive features the site offers is the opportunity to listen to chapters of the book ready by celebrities, including Daniel Radcliffe, also known as Harry Potter himself. 

5. Try meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice common to many cultures across the world. It is not only a time to relax and be still, but it also has been shown to reduce stress and relieve some depression and anxiety symptoms. Anxiety is especially prevalent right now, as so many are facing a future of uncertainty. Meditation is a great way to pass the time, while promoting mental health at the same time. It can be done inside or outside. There are many types of meditation, and there are many YouTube tutorials and Apps that guide viewers through the process. 

6. Learn a new language

For people who like to keep busy and challenge themselves, learning a new skill is a great way to pass the time. Thanks to modern technology, it is easier than ever to learn a new language. There are free apps and services, like duolingo.com, that are easy to access that make learning a new language fun. Learning doesn’t just have to be for school, and being able to speak multiple languages is not only a resume booster in some cases, but it helps you better connect to this world and its people. 

7.  Animal Live Streams

Netflix, Hulu and other TV services are great, but sometimes it’s nice to watch something a little less intense and a little more adorable. Many conservatories, zoos and other animal related companies are offering live streams where viewers can join and watch animals of all kinds in different habitats interact with each other. It’s like Animal Planet but live. Animal lovers can watch baby goats play with each other, learn how future service dogs train, or virtually chill with koalas hanging from trees. There’s a lot to learn from these creatures and this is a unique opportunity to do just that. 

8. Cooking Tutorials 

With all of this extra time on our hands, a great way to spend it is by becoming a master chef. Many professional chefs are offering free cooking tutorials on their social media and on YouTube. Viewers can watch and cook along to learn how to make meals that Gordon Ramsey himself would approve of… well maybe. Another great option is to take a look at the Herald’s own ‘Quarantine Cuisine’  series of posts, where staff members take you through some of their favorite recipes. 

9. Pinterest 

We all have those craft tutorials that we pin to our board and then never actually follow through with. This is the perfect time to craft to our heart’s content. One trend that is popular right now is flower embroidery. This is a great way to use up free time and make something cute to give as a gift or keep as a decoration. Another fun craft is the DIY geometric wall paint with tape, which is a nice way to spice up a room and ease boredom. Take this extra time summer offers to actually use those pinterest tutorials and feel a sense of accomplishment. 

10. Go for a Drive

An easy, effortless way to enjoy summer while following social distancing guidelines is to roll those windows down, turn that music up as loud as it will go and find a back road to drive down. This is a great way to clear the mind, get a fresh breeze going and belt out the lyrics to your favorite song like no one is listening, because they’re not. 

Features reporter Maggie Thornton can be reached at [email protected] Follow Maggie on social media at @Maggie_Thornton.