Perhaps you are looking forward to the great excuse social distancing provides to binge on Netflix. Truly, no judgment here. What better way to escape the news and transport ourselves to a land sans any mention of you-know-what.

Here’s a thought: What if we look at this extra time as a reset and the opportunity to enhance our health and mental wellness?

Below we are sharing the list of our top 10 recommended activities to keep your brain active and your body healthy during those extra hours created by the cancellation of, well, pretty much everything outside of the home.

1. Digitally Connect with Friends and Family

Social connections keep us healthy and happy, especially important right now. Technology is a wonderful tool here – utilize video connections such as FaceTime, Zoom or Skype to check in on friends and family when a phone call just isn’t feeling like enough. Strong social connections are one component of not only brain health, but also overall health, wellness, and happiness. In fact, one study has shown that social connection is a greater determinant to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. Having strong and healthy friendships offers a sense of belonging, purpose, reduces stress and improves confidence and self-worth. People with insufficient social support or lack of social ties are more likely to suffer from mental disorders like anxiety and depression another study says.1

2. Enjoy the Extra Time with Your Loved Ones

With everyone working remotely and schooling online, the house will be fuller than normal. Do your best to enjoy the togetherness – break out some board games, make family movie night an event again.

3. Prepare New Healthy Recipes

Without racing home from work to get dinner on the table, it is a good time to try out new recipes. Try to cook fresh meals using more whole foods and unprocessed ingredients – it will help your family stay healthy. The immune systems can work much more efficiently when fueled with low-sugar, nutrient-rich foods, and lean meats. If in a situation where canned foods need to be cooked, opt for beans, chickpeas, low-sugar, and low-sodium options. Try cooking with quinoa, rice or amaranth over-processed pasta. There are many online sources for easy recipes that incorporate healthier canned options.

4. Exercise

Moving your body is of huge support for maintaining a healthy outlook and immune system. Instead of working out at your gym in a time of viral risk, this is an opportunity to mix up your normal routine. Take more walks or run in the fresh air. Have a family boot camp hour in your yard or at your local park. Find online yoga, pilates or calisthenics classes for you to do in the comfort of your own home. Unearth that forgotten exercise equipment from the garage or basement, plug it in and burn some calories. Just stay motivated to move!

5. Practice Meditation and Mindfulness

What better time than now to stop, breathe deeply and strive to be calm and more mindful each day? Here are a few apps we love and recommend:

6. Read

That stack of magazines is awaiting you and so is that novel you started…months ago. A good book or travel publication is another way to escape in a stressful time. We recommend combining it with a good herbal tea and a bath.

7. Learn New Things

One key to long-term brain health is to learn something new – an instrument, a language, painting, just to name a few. When learning anything for the first time, it requires new neural pathways to be formed. These changes are called brain plasticity and will occur throughout your life. This downtime might just be the opportunity you have been waiting for to pick up a new hobby or dust off that guitar in the spare bedroom.

8. Catch up on Home Projects and Decluttering

You know that closet you have been meaning to clean out? Or how about that faucet that drips, drips, drips…And haven’t you been meaning to do some deep cleaning? These are things you can accomplish now – and are made more fun with your favorite playlist or audiobook. A clean, well-maintained home free of excess clutter is good for physical and mental health. Less stuff = less stress.

9. Brain Training Apps

As a company focused on brain health, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention brain training activities. Again, technology is our friend and we recommend apps like Brain HQ to stimulate cognitive function. Click here to see a list of the top five apps, according to Medical News Today.

10. Ponder Your Purpose

We are all here for a reason and have something special to offer while on this planet. Knowing your purpose is one of the pillars of long-term brain health. In this quiet time, which surely will bring some change to many of us, consider this for yourself. Start a journal about your heart’s desires, how you feel you can make the biggest impact in the world and lay out some steps you can take toward your life’s personal intention.

1“The Importance of Social Connection.”  Mindwise International.