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Coronavirus: Alison Strachan’s Tips For Staying Busy During Covid-19 – Updated News Article

Story Details Updated – originally published in The Macdonald Notebook on March 15th

By Alison Strachan

As the Covid-19 situation around the world, and in Nova Scotia, continues to unfold and now with two of my family members in self-isolation, I decided to plan ahead on what to do now as I practice social distancing and what to do to keep busy if self-isolation becomes necessary.

Before considering options, here’s a personal tip from me: Whatever you choose to do to keep busy or pass time, set your watch, phone, or whatever you use as a timer for one or two-hour intervals. When the alarm goes off, it’s your reminder to stop, take a deep breath … or two … or three …, and drink some water. Deep breathing and water are simple and key wellness strategies, along with a good night’s sleep, that we often forget about in times of stress and anxiety.

Here’s my work-in-progress resource list.

News Sources
Several of the national-facing US Newspaper subscriptions have lifted their paywall when it comes to news about Covid-19. Some of these news outlets will require you to ‘register’ with your email address and a password. They include:
You can also now stream CBC News Network for free on any screen, with CBC Gem lifting the paywall.

 

Alison Strachan lives in Halifax & Lunenburg, and is a lawyer, having grown up in NY. She attended NSCAD University and the Schulich School of Law

Cultural experiences
Want to go to Uffizi in Florence? Or, the Guggenheim in New York? Take a virtual tour of 12 Museums around the globe!
The NY Metropolitan Opera is streaming live performances every evening starting with Bizet’s Carmen Monday night.
Hundreds of Colouring Books from museums around the world are at Open Culture (among other things). This. Is. Amazing. THE most complete stop for culture, famous speeches, and pure mind-opening experience. I’ve got it bookmarked for life.
Choose from recorded performances at the Washington, DC Kennedy Center including Gladys Knight and an exhaustive list of others. Notably, the Center has a series of Millennium Stage artists including the Nicaraguan group C4 Trio.
Stock up on your reading
Halifax Library staff make online reading recommendations every month for all ages, available in various formats here.
Interesting things to do with Children (or with your own inner child!) 
Zooniverse – This is a website for crowd-sourced citizen science projects. Listen to baby noises, transcribe Arctic plant collections. Help locate black holes. Unlimited possibilities.
iNaturalist – Go for a hike, and photograph plants, animals, and fungi and upload Geo-tagged photos. You can submit observations even if you don’t know what you found! Data is used for real biodiversity monitoring.
Old Weather – Where you can transcribe historic records of weather data (such as from old whaling vessels) to help scientists studying climate change.
Fossil Atmospheres – Halifax has ginkgo trees! They’re a common urban tree. Help paleobotanists reconstruct ancient atmospheres: collect and send leaves from local trees to the Smithsonian, or count stomata (the little holes on leaves for gas exchange) online.
Project budburst – Spring is (almost) here. You can watch for signs of spring (leaves budding, flowers blooming) and record your observations for Project Budburst.
ebird – Are you a birder? Turn your observations into science and conservation. Watch birds from your backyard, or go for a walk in a park or a longer hike.
ExpeRimental – A series of short films making it fun, easy and cheap to do science experiments at home with your children.
Scholastic Canada – currently, Scholastic Canada is full of information on how to talk to children about COVID-19 with links to strategies for school during a time of closure. I anticipate that, like the Scholastic USA, that the site will be replete with home study modules for our primary to higher-level students.
Moog and Korg – I guarantee your musical kids, and you, will be thanking me for taking you to this free app. Your neighbours? Maybe not so much, but send them a link and they’ll appreciate you more!
Lunch Doodles with Mo Willem artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Centre – videos posted each day at 1:00 pm and archived. A magnet for kids 8 and up.
Fitness
If you’ve been told to stay inside, then you’re going to need some physical fitness regime to maintain both your physical AND mental health. Here are a couple of sites that are helpful.
Darebee – This site is packed with information from hydration to meal preparation to abs of steel with weekly and monthly calendars to help you stay focused and not slack off during any confinement. My personal favourites are wall push-ups and No Swear (30-day) challenge. Want a less formal approach? It comes with a “workout of the day” a more random approach to fitness.
Fitness Blender – this well-planned website provides video for every fitness level with new releases each week.
Daily Burn – Test drive this site for 30-days. Its message is “Get Fit. Have Fun. Repeat“. Seriously, how can you resist?
LesMillsonDemand – if you have the gear and the stamina for routines labeled as Body Attack or Body Combat, sign up for their free 14-day trial. More ambitious yoga routines are also here such as BodyFlow. Please let me know how you make out with this!
Zoo Excursions
Take yourself and your child(ren) to the San Diego Zoo to visit and learn about natural habitats! I went both in person and on this site and learned a lot more when I travelled via the site than when I went in person.
Plan Ahead
Plan a trip to Yellowstone. The US National Park system is here to help with information from several of the most popular national parks in the USA.
If Mars is on your future travel agenda, take a peek here. This page is currently undergoing renovation but has some surprising existing detail to pique your interest now.
More virtual field trips are found on a handy downloadable card available here.
Meditation and relaxation
Make sure to make plans to unwind. Mindfulness and meditation are strategies to keep you safe from stress imbalance. You can sign up for an expensive on-line mindfulness course through Harvard, but there are also a few excellent free sites that offer self-care strategies in this area of your life.
Sadhguru Yoga and Meditation – Yes, there’s an iPhone or iPad app for that! This app will send you reminders to practice your yoga and meditation to help you quiet your mind while building your spirituality, health, and wellness.
Do Yoga With Me – Yoga for you, and for your family, has wonderful free gentle yoga and meditations that help with anxiety. This site has yoga for all levels and hundreds of streaming videos that are absolutely free of charge. Namaste!
Dartmouth Student Wellness Centre – While Dartmouth College in New Hampshire is closed for the foreseeable future, it’s wellness website remains open for public use. This is the place to find guided meditations, mindfulness exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation exercises on your own clock. Turn off the news and social media and try some of these proven methods of relaxation.
Unified Mindfulness – This interactive site sells itself with “Live a Happier, Healthier, More Inspired Life Starting Today…” A recommendation from Paul Rubell, an Academy Award Nominated Film Editor, says:  “This program does what I previously had thought impossible: taking an extremely refined system that can be overwhelming for beginners, and crystallizing it into a simple yet profound introduction which could be a starting point for further investigation or an entire lifelong practice in itself”.
Calm – No list on the subject of relaxation would be complete without Calm. Sign up for the 30-day free trial period to find out why. Whether it’s to reconnect with gratitude in your life, to wind down from a stressful interaction, or to dial down that anxiety that’s getting in the way of your internal bliss, this site will give you many options. Its goal is to “unlock happier, healthier you”. Give it a try!
UCLA Health – If you check in on this site, you will find a wealth of free guided meditations ranging from just a few minutes in length to half an hour. Start with a grounding Breathing Meditation.
Get an online education
Top Universities (Including Harvard) offer hundreds of free online classes. Whether you have a sudden need to learn “Mandarin” or a burning desire to know everything you ever wanted to know about the “Presidency and the Shape of the Supreme Court”  your one-stop free key to higher knowledge is here.
Futurelearn – Are you ready for this? You can study anything from Opera to the Book of Kells. This exciting free resource is chock full of courses. I’ve signed up for Conversational Norwegian. Oh, the possibilities.
TEDEx – Don’t want to overwhelm you but someone out there indexed all the TEDEx’s so that you don’t feel left behind.
We will be continuing to build this list as time passes, but hopefully, you will find this information useful during the next while. Please email back with resources that you find helpful and we’ll add them in!

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