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The indefinite end date of quarantine has prompted millions around the world to seek alternative ways to remain engaged, connected and stimulated.
A recent study published to The Lancet has revealed that quarantine, although necessary during pandemics and epidemics, can have serious impacts on our mental health. The loss of routine, confinement as well as the lack of interaction can enhance feelings of boredom and increase emotional distress. According to experts, the way to combat feelings of boredom during periods of isolation is to create new routines, new “goals” that will inadvertently develop our coping skills.
In an article for Psychology Today, neuropsychologist Dr. Marc Wittmann compares the “empty time” of our current isolation to that of astronauts who spend months in isolation. Astronauts rarely have any spare or “empty time” in their routines. Every part of their day is scheduled and organized, making what little moments they have for self-reflection or introspection, enjoyable.
“When you have a future-oriented goal, you organize your life in little steps of activity on which you concentrate, away from your worrying self and time...more future-oriented individuals feel that time passes more quickly in daily life,” Wittmann said.
Depending on your circumstances, there are several ways to turn your isolation into a productive experience, or at the very least, make time pass more easily.
Aside from scheduling Zoom calls with friends and taking a daily walk outside, the novel coronavirus has caused a surge in puzzle and book sales, both of which are activities that are not only enjoyable and calming, but mentally stimulating as well. More people have also used this period of empty time to sign up for an online course to enhance their resume or simply explore topics that have always interested them.
Sites like Coursera and edX offer both free and paid access to pre-recorded lectures and materials so that you can learn at your own pace. Whether you’re looking to finally learn a different language, hone your skills in programs like Excel and Salesforce or take courses from some of the most high-profile schools in the world like Yale University, now is the perfect opportunity to turn your “empty time” into something productive.
Interested in online learning? Here are some of the most popular sites to help get you started.
Coursera offers both free and paid access to diplomas, certificates and degrees from top schools and companies like Stanford University and Google. With more than 53 million online learners, Coursera has access to more than 4,100 courses on everything from Business and Computer Science to Arts and Humanities.
Like Coursera, edX offers access to both free and paid access to courses top schools around the world like Massachusetts Information Institute of Technology and Harvard University. With more than 25 million registered learners around the world, users can access any of the approximately 2,800 courses without a formal application process.
If you use YouTube or Facebook, chances are you’ve probable seen a commercial for Masterclass. With more than 80 courses available, the site offers users an opportunity to watch lectures from well, the masters in each field. For example, you can learn acting tips from Natalie Portman, creative writing from Margaret Atwood and filmmaking from Martin Scorsese. Access to Masterclass lectures requires a membership that costs $180 USD annually, which provides access to all courses, downloadable workbooks and video lectures.
School16 is an education program that offers access to take courses and classes specifically tailored to tech. Sample classes include Tech Sales,Tech Marketing, Design and Software Engineering - all with the goal of helping students gain meaningful employment.
If you’re looking to develop your creative skills and learn photo editing, illustration, photography or how to start a successful Vlog, Skillshare is for you. Skillshare offers both free and paid classes taught by real professionals, and even offers programs for you to capitalize on your creativity by turning your work into a successful business or career.