Social distancing and spending all of our time at home can leave even introverts feeling a little stir crazy. Although it’s currently the safest option, staying away from our friends and family can make it feel like there’s nothing to do. Thankfully, there’s a seemingly endless supply of online tools and resources to help us stay busy and make staying connected feel a little easier. Though companies could capitalize on the need for online tools during this time, many companies are choosing to (or already do) offer their services for free. Here are five online tools and resources to help you survive the quarantine with your mental health intact.
Free Online Classes
Being stuck at home can start to feel mind-numbing after a while. To help ease that pain and keep your synapses firing, some organizations are offering free classes online. These classes range from Yale University’s most popular class, “The Science of Well-Being,” to free cooking classes from Milk Street Online Cooking School (offered through April 30).
Online learning platform Coursera offers classes from prestigious universities like Yale, Duke, and Stanford as well as major tech companies like Google and IBM. In addition to cooking and education, Fender is also offering free online guitar lessons for those looking to pick up a new hobby or check “learn an instrument” off their bucket list.
Free Contactless Food Delivery
For many of us, going out to eat is one of the little treats we allow ourselves each week. With restaurant dining shutting down in New York, California, and other states, delivery is the next best thing. However, the risk of germ transfer and contamination during delivery can be higher than normal, and we can never be too careful. Because of that, many restaurants and meal delivery services are offering free contactless delivery so you can have your food dropped off outside of your door to avoid any face-to-face contact with your delivery driver.
To help restaurants thrive during this pandemic, delivery service companies like Doordash are offering commission relief and financial assistance to independent restaurants and delivery drivers. Additionally, some restaurant chains like Chipotle, Moes, Chili’s, KFC, and IHOP are providing free contactless delivery to users during this quarantine period.
One of the best parts about streaming services is the ability to have friends over to binge-watch a whole series or have an on-demand movie night. However, right now, that’s not a possibility. Streaming giant Netflix is offering a free Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party that allows anyone with a subscription to watch Netflix with their friends or family members, even when they can’t be physically together. The extension allows groups to watch a show or movie together and will start, stop, and pause the show or movie at the same time; it even lets users chat while watching.
Free eBooks and Audiobooks
For those of us who like to read but maybe haven’t had the free time until now, there are online resources and apps offering free ebooks and audiobooks right now. Amazon, for example, is offering free audiobooks for kids and teens while they’re out of school, as well as literary classics including Jane Eyre and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, through its app Audible.
When it comes to getting free books, the library is always the easiest option, but with social distancing in full swing, most libraries are closed. That leaves cost-free access to books scarce. However, many libraries offer free ebooks and audiobooks online through apps like Hoopla and Libby (formerly Overdrive). All you need is a library card and you have access to millions of titles with only a click or two.
Free Online Fitness
With gyms and other fitness facilities closed due to social distancing requirements and your fitness classes out of reach, working out can be a little more difficult than normal. Some companies are trying to make that a little easier. Companies like Peloton, Beachbody, and Daily Burn are offering free classes and access to their fitness programs online.
The YMCA is offering a service to members called YMCA 360 that provides free classes and workout resources. Additionally, there are several YouTube channels dedicated to at-home workouts, like Yoga with Adriene or The Fitness Marshall.
Being stuck at home in isolation can make days seem endless. However, the internet can be your greatest resource during this time and the many free solutions available to you can make those long days at home feel a little more exciting.