With one-third of the world’s population under some sort of coronavirus restriction, we’re hopefully all starting to settle into the new normal: solo meals, or a little too much quality time with roommates and family; work-from-home spaces and schedules; waiting in the line at the grocery store six feet apart.
While of course this is a time of much anxiety for many people, it’s also heartwarming to see how human beings have banded together to make life easier for each other. From warm and appropriately-distant greetings from walkers in the fresh air to free supplies left in front yards, human solidarity has been evident in this challenging time.
If you find yourself with a little extra cash, this might be the time to give back. For a guaranteed reputable spot for donations (and donor matching up to 2x!), check out the CDC Foundation. If you’re not sick, consider donating blood in a time when the Red Cross is in serious need. Or donate to clothing company Sene Studio’s mask initiative—they have the capacity to make up to 100,000 masks per day.
On the commercial level, many companies are making efforts to encourage and assist customers during this time of staying home. A free trial or complimentary subscription can be a boon even when you’re not holed up in your living room looking for something to do, but especially in these challenging times. It’s a plus that companies are opening the way for people to try new things with minimal financial investment. Give one of these services a whirl to help with any self-quarantine goal.
Note: set yourself a reminder to cancel the subscription if you don’t want it—in most cases, where a free trial that requires a credit card is listed, I’ve also indicated pricing after the end of the trial.
Eat delicious food
We can’t live on canned chickpeas and peanut butter forever. And in a time when local restaurants are particularly threatened, ordering takeout one more time this week is really in the best interest of your community! Try giving your local restaurant a call to see if they are doing delivery or curbside takeout (this also applies to coffee shops!). If you’re worried about the risk of eating “out,” know that the likelihood of COVID-19 being transmitted on food or food packaging is minimal, according to the FDA and CDC. UberEats is offering a $0 delivery fee for local restaurants, and DoorDash also offers free delivery for many restaurants. Check out Good Housekeeping’s roundup for more, including special deals and giveaways for healthcare workers.
Health and fitness
We can all admit that it’s a hard time to stick to your workout routine, especially since we can’t hit the gym. Instead, try Peloton’s extended free trial of their fitness app—90 days of strength training, running, yoga, and, of course, cycling. You don’t need Peloton’s proprietary at-home bike to use this app; they offer everything from no-equipment yoga to “hikes” you can take on your treadmill and outdoor coached runs (90 days free, then $12.99/month). If you’ve always wanted to try barre classes, check out Barre3’s 15-day free trial (then $29/mo) or Pure Barre (7 days free, then $29/month). For a holistic approach to fitness, Fitbit is offering a free 90-day trial of its Fitbit Premium service, which includes video workouts along with sleep tracking and health coaching (90 days free, then $9.99/month or $79.99/year, not including device). Orangetheory is offering at-home video workouts for free (no sign-up or credit card required); and they’ve even tailored them to include household items instead of free-weights (double-crunch with a potted plant, anyone?). Corepower Yoga is also offering free online classes.
Focus on work or reading
If you’re working from home for the first time, you might have found that it’s harder to focus without the buzz of a workplace. If you haven’t tried Spotify, they offer a one-month free trial (then $9.99/mo or $4.99/mo for students). Pandora is offering a 90-day free trial of its Premium any-song-on-demand service (90 days free, then $9.99/month or $4.99/month for students). Always-free myNoise.net offers various customizable kinds of background or white noise for an optional donation and also has a free app. I particularly love this site because it offers soundscape suggestions for your goals; for example, “I’m desperately trying to put my baby to sleep,” “I am a student with ADHD,” or “I need to focus in a noisy environment.”
If you’re looking for textbooks or simply some good reading materials, don’t forget that your local library is very possibly still at your disposal. Apps like Hoopla and Libby can offer a great selection of audiobooks, videos, and digital reading. (I’ve been really impressed by Libby’s in-app reader and audiobook player!)
Learn a new skill
All this time in isolation could be an opportunity to learn a new skill or pick up a new interest. The Great Courses Plus is a great place to start, offering classes on everything from cooking basics to digital photography to various academic fields. It’s truly a vast platform—whether you want to learn about the legacy of World War I or the wines of California, The Great Courses have you covered. They also have an array of high school classes, if you and your teenage child have been puzzling over multivariable calculus or organic chemistry. 30 days free, then $19.99/month or $30/quarter.
A website like Skillshare is also a great place to pick up a new hobby or skill—you can learn new things in easy-to-follow online classes in everything from animation to marketing to web development. Note: unless you’re sure you’ll want to go for it, make sure to change the setting from “yearly” to “monthly” payments on the checkout screen, because otherwise you’ll be hit with a $99 yearly charge once the free trial is up (yikes!). Two months free, then $15/month or $99/year.
Fancy trying your hand at video editing or music production? Apple is offering free 90-day trials of its Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X. If graphic design, publishing, or photography are more your speed, hip, new Adobe alternative Affinity Designer is available—along with its sister programs Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher—for a free 90-day trial or 50 percent off. 90 days free, then a one-time charge of $49.99 for each app (all currently 50 percent off at $24.99).
If you’re ready to get cracking on your own business, popular online commerce platform Shopify is offering a free 90-day trial to start your own online store. 90 days free, then starting at $29/month.
Many of us have a go-to video streaming service, but after two or three weeks of self-isolation, the offerings could start to look a little bland. If you’ve exhausted Netflix’s free month (then starting at $8.99) and your Amazon Prime free trial (30 days free, then starting at $12.99), take a look at the offerings from Hulu (30 days free, then starting at $5.99/month) or CBS All Access (30 days free, then starting at $5.99/month). If you want to spend a week bingeing on one particular show or indulging childhood nostalgia, try the 7-day trial from HBO (then $14.99/month) or Disney+ (then $6.99/month). YouTube Premium, which is ad-free with free downloads (helpful if you’re sharing wifi!), also offers a free month (then $11.99/mo). Be sure to check out the various services for free movie-watching with friends from afar, and don’t forget to look for selections at your library, especially through dedicated library movie app Kanopy.