Health and Wellness

6 science-backed activities to help you relax while you're home

@JulieK | Twenty20

If you've been inside for days on end amid the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be getting a little stir-crazy — or at the very least, feeling bored.

"Human beings are not real great about endless time at home, not really knowing what to do with yourself," Lauren Murray, a clinical psychologist and associate scientist at Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health in the Department of Mental Health and International Health, tells CNBC Make It. In other words, we're not great at having free time.

You don't have to use this time to write the next great American novel; indeed, there's a lot to worry about and do. But if you are looking for some structure in your day, here are some relaxing activities you can do at home during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Color or doodle

Studies have shown that "structured coloring of a reasonably complex geometric pattern," such as a symmetrical mandala pattern or coloring book, can lead to a meditative state that helps reduce anxiety. Consider breaking out your adult coloring books, or drawing your own pattern.

Go for a walk

Walking not only counts as physical activity, but also provides some mental health benefits. If you can get outside to walk, studies have shown that a brisk walk can make you feel more creative. A 2016 study found that walking can make you happier and reduce feelings of boredom and dread, even if you're just walking indoors. (Walking outside and staying at least six feet from other people is safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, FYI.)


Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep, because when you're sleep-deprived your body has a harder time fighting infectious diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic. Studies have shown that people are more likely to get infected with other types of viruses (like influenza and rhinovirus) if they're sleep-deprived.

If you're going to take a nap, stick to 10 to 20 minutes to avoid feeling groggy or messing with your sleep-wake cycle, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Just keep in mind that sleeping too little or too much can be a symptom of depression.

Do yoga

Feeling stiff from sitting at your WFH station? Consider doing some yoga. Not only does it count as physical activity, but studies have shown that yoga can boost your mood, lower stress and anxiety and boost your self-esteem.

There are several online yoga classes to explore from the comfort of your own home, such as YouTube's Yoga With Adriene or CorePower Yoga On Demand.  

Chat with a friend

Call, text, email or video chat with your friends and family. Just because you're socially distancing doesn't mean that you can't connect. Research has shown that social support can make you more resilient to stress.

Listen to (or play) music

You've seen the viral videos of people singing while quarantined, and it turns out they may be onto something: Singing has been shown to improve people's mental health and sense of belonging.

Not much of a musician? Listening to music can help people in the face of a scary and stressful experience; a study on cancer patients found that music reduced anxiety and pain, while bolstering people's moods.

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