Social-Distancing Tips and Tricks -by Mairi Stirling Hill, GC Resident Member and Blog Writer

Green College Staff

Social-Distancing Tips and Tricks -by Mairi Stirling Hill, GC Resident Member and Blog Writer

As the global COVID19 continues to unfold and things get more unpredictable, it is necessary to take note of our mental and physical wellbeing. This can be tough, especially in times of crisis, but that just means that it is all the more important to check in on yourself as well as others, and be prepared with some techniques for coping with the rapidly changing situation.

Below are a few tips for dealing with stress, as well as some ideas for how to alleviate feelings of isolation and boredom during this time of social-distancing.

Mental Wellbeing

This is, undeniably, a stressful time. The global situation continues to develop at a rapid pace, and alongside that our daily routines have been dramatically shifted. Below are some very quick tips for dealing with stress and anxiety when you feel overwhelmed.

Here are some immediate things you can do, for when you feel you need a quick change of pace. A good tip is to write a list of things like this that you find helpful in moments of intense anxiety and have them handy!

  • Breathing exercises:
    • For example: Place your hands on your belly and breathe out first, emptying your body of air. Continue breathing and feel the rise and fall of your stomach.
  • Note down five things that you can see, five things you can feel, five things you can hear. This is really good for grounding yourself, and you can continue to do this, counting down from five.
  • Lists of five: similar to above, it is a way to put your mind to a simple task and take it away from thoughts that are making you anxious. For this, have a list handy with ideas. Some suggestions include: cities/places you would like to visit, Taylor Swift songs, dog breeds, etc.
    • Have a list of topics handy so that you don’t have to come up with them when you are feeling overwhelmed. They should be simple topics.
  • Make a cup of tea.
  • Take a shower.
  • Go for a walk.

These are very basic suggestions, but they can be a good way to ground yourself if you are feeling totally overwhelmed in the moment. For when you are feeling a bit calmer, here are some things to help distract you:

  • Watch some TV, something funny is especially good as laughter can be an excellent way to release tension.
  • Listen to a podcast or an audiobook – I find listening much easier than reading when I am stressed, but reading can also be good.
  • Listen to your favourite music; make a playlist.
  • Take a bath.
  • Stretch your limbs.
  • Try some yoga in your room (there are plenty of YouTube videos and tutorials to help get your started).
  • Get creative – paint something or draw something. If you don’t have the equipment why not rediscover Microsoft Paint!
  • Phone a friend. ‘Social-distancing’ absolutely does not mean social isolation. Make sure to keep in touch with the people around you, near or far. There will be more ideas on ways to be social coming up.

Social Interactions

As mentioned above, staying social is very important for your own wellbeing and for the wellbeing of those around you. It might feel like it takes a little more effort to hang out with your friends virtually rather than physically, so here are a few ideas of different ways you can hang out in different places.

  • Over text, Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.
    • Basic, but still a form of interaction.
  • Phone, Skype, and so on.
    • Another classic, but classic for a reason. Note that a lot of cell phone carriers have waived their fees for international calls, making it much easier for you to call family and friends that might live abroad. Check your carrier!
    • Why not set up a dinner date with your friends over Skype or FaceTime? Have a glass of wine and catch up from afar.
  • Video sharing.
    • There are various options for video sharing that allow you to watch things with your friends without the need to share oxygen. Netflix Party is a google chrome extension that allows you to watch things together, Zoom is a video conferencing site that allows you to share your screen.
  • Online gaming.
    • Board Game Arena. You need an account but it is free and a good way to play some games.
    • Jackbox Games is a fun online gaming service. It’s not free, but once you have a pack you can sign in on your phone and play in groups.


Another way to stay feeling fresh is staying active! Gyms and classes are no longer open and running, but there are other fun ways to keep moving, outside and inside, and here are a few suggestions.

  • Walking.
    • Or strolling, dawdling, meandering – there are many possible forms of this type of exercise. Get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air and nature.
  • Running.
    • Not for everyone, but another great way to get outside.
  • YouTube fitness!
    • These can be great and come in all lengths and styles! Try out some toning work, stretching, aerobics, or yoga. Some of my favourites:
      • MaMadFitdFit – there are loads of different videos for toning, stretching, abs, legs, booty, and so on, at various lengths.
      • Sean Vigue Fitness – a lot of ‘intense’ core work.
      • For a real 80s throwback try a Jane Fonda workout, beginners or advanced. They’re ridiculous, but amazing, plus it’s worth it for her hair.


If you don’t want to spend all your time watching TV, why not try some of these non-school but mildly educational options!

  • Learn a language!
    • There are loads of apps and websites for this. Duolingo is one that is good for practising a number of languages from French and Spanish to Irish or even High Valyrian. I have also heard good things about Memrise.
    • Podcasts are also a great way to learn a language. One that I really like is Coffee Break Languages.
    • Fancy something random? Here are a couple of good websites for learning Old English! There is Old English Aerobics and Old English Online
  • Podcasts in general are a great and accessible way to learn new things. One of my favourites is called In Our Time and has episodes on basically every topic with academics and experts to guide you through.
  • Missing the Green College Lecture Series’? Well never fear! Many of the lectures are available on the Green College YouTube channel Green College YouTube channel.
  • Virtually check out some of the world’s most famous art galleries here. This includes The Van Gogh Museum, The Met, The National Gallery, London, and The Munch Museum, Oslo, amongst many others.
  • If you have a kindle or an iPad or even just a smartphone you can access a lot of classic literature for free!
  • Audiobooks are also great. Audible offers a free audiobook when you first sign up (and then you can cancel and never pay).
  • I have signed up to receive a 'poem-a-day' which has been a good way to access new poetry more frequently and the emails always include a bit about the author and other related suggestions.

Screen Time

There are various options for ways to spice up your screen time with new activities in between binge watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

  • Video streaming services for everyday watching.
    • This includes Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney +, most of which also offer a free trial period of a week or a month.
  • The Metropolitan Opera is streaming an opera a night for free.
  • The Royal Opera House is also offering some free ballets and operas via YouTube and Facebook.
  • Marquee TV is a streaming service that has ballet, theatre, and opera on demand, and the first 30 days are free.
  • Games are aplenty online:
    • Roll 20 is a free way to play Dungeons and Dragons online, suggested by a fellow Greenie.
    • You can get games such as The Sims 4 and FIFA here. There is a sale on until March 23rd
    • Inspired by the virus? Try playing Pandemic 2.


Some other activities that can be good to keep your mind engaged:

  • Puzzles.
  • Solitaire.
  • Re-organising your room/home.
  • Re-organising your online folders and work.
    • Backing up your work!
  • Missing your favourite cafes and bars? Why not buy a gift card to support them in this time of crisis, and then you have a nice coffee or cocktail to look forward to in the future!
  • Watching dog/cat/cute animal videos.

Remember: Stay Safe, Stay Sane, Stay Home.

by: Mairi Stirling Hill, Department of English Language and Literature, UBC   @MairiJSHill