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Whether you feel like going to the movies, eating in your favourite restaurant, browsing the local shops or meeting your friends at the pub, chances are you can’t do that right now. Social distancing, just like sticking with a smart cleaning routine, is an essential part of keeping yourself, your loved ones and your neighbours healthy during this time. But there’s no denying it can get hard when you’re stuck in the house nonstop.

Here are some ideas for staying active and engaged while you’re at home. One or two will be enough to get you going. Then take a moment to share your favorite or add your own suggestions in the Comments. We’re all in this together, even if it is virtually.

1. Have a Virtual Party

Chatting with friends and family on video calls is a great way to keep in touch when you can’t get together in person. But you know what’s even better? Hosting a video happy hour, dinner party or tea time date. You could even play a game like Battleship via video call! As a good friend put it in a text the other day, thinking of it as “distant socializing” instead of social distancing is much more fun.

2. Brighten Up Your Garden

Now is a fantastic time to put a little extra thought and effort into your garden. Pore over your favorite seed catalogs (or browse online) and dream up plans for those spring garden beds. Alternatively, ordering no-contact (social-distancing-friendly) delivery via email or phone order from your local nursery, if available, is a great way to support a small local business and bring cheer to your garden at the same time.

No garden? Plant a pot of flowers for your front stoop, herbs in the kitchen window or a houseplant to clean the air.

3. Clean Out a Closet

It may not be a good time for cleaning out a large area of your home, such as the garage, because social distancing might make it more challenging to donate and dispose of items. But that doesn’t mean you can’t clear out other areas of your home. Decluttering a closet or your kitchen drawers can be a satisfying project that offers long-lasting rewards.

4. Do Some Mood Reading (or Watching)

When times are stressful, some people enjoy escaping with light, feel-good romances and comedies, while others prefer getting swept away with dystopian thrillers and propulsive mysteries. The key is to be honest with yourself about which camp you fall into and seek out books, movies and TV shows that satisfy.

5. Paint Something

Have a little leftover paint in the garage? This could be a great time to finally try out that fun home painting project you spotted on Houzz. Updating a staircase with painted risers (as shown here) is a particularly cheerful — and completely doable — example.

6. Elevate Your (Home) Dining Experience

Are you and your family finally all home for dinner at the same time? Make the most of it by turning dinner into a special event at least a few days each week. It doesn’t have to mean cooking wildly inventive meals from scratch — just a few touches will make it feel special. Cover the table with a fresh tablecloth, light a candle, put condiments in little bowls and use the nice glasses.

7. Discover a New Creative Outlet

Creating something with your hands is a welcome break from staring at screens. Experiment with a craft or medium you’ve always wanted to try, practice a musical instrument or pick up a neglected hobby. With the wealth of online resources available, there’s sure to be a class or video tutorial to suit your interests and skill level. It doesn’t need to be complicated: At its simplest, it might be something like keeping a jar of colored pencils and a sketchbook on the kitchen table so you can doodle while you’re on all those video calls.

8. Organize a Home Workout Zone

We all know that getting physical exercise is important, and if you usually work out in a gym, you might be struggling to find a way to include movement in your new routine. Walking or running outdoors can be wonderful if that’s an option where you are. But it’s also a good idea to have an indoor workout zone. All you really need is some clear floor space, a spot to stow your gear and a surface to set up a laptop or tablet for streaming workout videos.

9. Rearrange Your Furniture

I’m guessing that as a Houzz reader, you might find rearranging things at least a little bit therapeutic. Whether it’s a simple shift of decor or a complete rethink of your furniture layout, try looking at your space with fresh eyes. What would work better now that you’ll be home for a while? And if you’ve been thinking of embarking on a decorating or remodeling project, you might even consider getting started on a project with a pro virtually.

Leave a comment and let us know how you have been spending time in isolation!
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