How To Make the Most of Your Free Time Right Now


We all know the drill by this point: The coronavirus has ground "normalcy" to somewhat of a halt worldwide. Though lots of states and businesses have started reopening, there's still a lot of stress and uncertainty surrounding the virus, when a vaccine will be ready and publicly available, and whether there is credence to reports it could be going airborne. Needless to say, many of us are still working remotely and minimizing the amount of travel we're doing outside of our homes.

More time spent at home, of course, also means figuring out what to do with it. You could re-watch Parks & Recreation for the umpteenth time (10/10 would recommend), jump on the sourdough starter train, or mindlessly scroll your social media accounts for hours on end.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

Conversely, you could try turning any extra hours at home into something calming and productive. To that end, we've compiled a list of six ways you can spend any extra time at home to help reduce stress and induce some much-needed catharsis. Stay safe—and sane—out there, friends.


Even the tiniest of outdoor spaces can become a veritable Eden during a time of isolation. This author can attest to how easily you can order seeds online for delivery. Whether your preference is flowers, herbs, or vegetables, go ahead and dig in the dirt a little. Planting the earth is cathartic not just for you but also for your local ecosystem, as your new plants will bring bees, butterflies, and maybe even hummingbirds around to feed.

Try Yoga


As someone who hasn't been able to touch their toes since 2008, I'll let former Executive Editor Ann Taylor Pittman take this one away. "I was never a yoga person, but I've doing it five times a week for the last five weeks. Here's why: It's a way to devote some time to yourself, to completely unplug from the news, to quiet your mind, and to feel yourself getting stronger—and all of that is really empowering during a time when so many of us feel completely powerless." So in a way, you're combining exercise and meditation. We'll cosign that.

Another thing we'll cosign: delicious, customizable meal plans! Subscribe to the Cooking Light Diet today and you'll never again have to wonder "what's for dinner?"



Just because social distancing is best for health and safety right now doesn't mean we have to be socially distant. And no, we're not just talking about Zoom. Remember the excitement you used to feel when receiving a handwritten card in the mail—you know, before it was all bills and spam? Why not spread a little of that joy in these hard times? That's what former Editor Kimberly Holland is doing. "I've long been a fan of writing birthday cards, hello cards, and popping letters into the mail for friends. It's a nice surprise to come home to handwritten letter in the age of texts and emails." Hear, hear! Take some time while you're re-streaming The Last Dance to put a little love out into the world via a personalized missive—and be sure to thank your local USPS carrier.



This will be a hard sell for some, as sitting still and clearing your mind for 20 minutes in this age of unlimited information and handheld computers is no easy feat. Senior Editor Darcy Lenz was skeptical as well, saying "I definitely wasn't sold on the idea…that I could sit still and 'quiet my mind' for more than 20 seconds, or that it would do much for me." But give it a try and it may change your routine and your whole outlook. It definitely has for Lenz.

Get Some Air

Man walking with grandson

Depending on where you live right now and what type of shelter-in-place guidelines are happening, this one can be tricky. But vitamin D and fresh air are soul-refreshing necessities. We don't live in caves anymore, after all. So, spend a little time outside every day, weather permitting. There's nothing like a worldwide pandemic forcing people inside to make you appreciate this amazingly breathtaking world around us—trees, flowers, birds chirping, adorable puppies on walks, etc. If you're able, get outside and get moving to gin up some endorphins. Your brain and body will thank you.

Strive for Balance

Ah, balance in the time of coronavirus—what a concept, especially for people struggling or juggling multiple jobs/humans. In this instance, though, we're sticking to our wheelhouse and focusing on diet balance. Former Cooking Light Food Editor Josh Miller says, "I cook healthy food most nights, but once or twice a week we get good takeout (curbside or delivery). It helps to have a change of pace and something different on our plates. We also try to keep our eyes on overzealous Zoom happy hours; it's easy to get carried away. Treat yourself, but make it the exception and not the rule."

Balance in the kitchen is hard, but it doesn't have to be. Subscribe to the Cooking Light Diet today and start receiving customizable meal plans catered to YOUR preferences!

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