30 Day Social Distancing Challenge
Write a list of 5 things you are grateful for today. It may feel more difficult right now to focus on the positives, but practising gratefulness can help reframe your mindset and improve your mental wellbeing. The more specific and more often you do it the better.
For example; I am grateful to live in a neighbourhood where I can social distance while walking, and have views of the Ottawa River.
Do an Online Workout
Canadian clothing brand Lululemon is providing at home workouts on Youtube and through Instagram. Epic Fitness Ottawa, The Fitness Lab and Iron North Studio are providing some free workout classes on Instagram. Orange Theory are posting videos online as well. Ottawa yoga studios Yoga Town and Pure Yoga are doing free yoga classes on Instagram live. Pranashanti Yoga is offering virtual classes. Follow @ottfreefit on Instagram for more inspiration.
The following local museums are doing variations of virtual tours and online content; Canadian War Museum, National Gallery of Canada, Bytown Museum, Petawawa Heritage Village, Canadian Museum of History, Rideau Hall and The Diefenbunker Museum.
Craft / Create
Make friendship bracelets, macramé, paint, sketch, colour… anything! You can purchase Annie Sloan chalk paint online from Malenka Originals or the Tin Barn Market to freshen up a piece of furniture. Join Cup of Intention on May 9 for a virtual candle making class. Virtually learn how to make a spring wreath with 613 DIY, on May 17. Artist Becca @thehappyevercrafter has calligraphy tutorials online, and Bead n’ Stitch sells do-it-yourself craft kits!
Baking / Cooking
Whether it is baking or cooking; take the time to try a new recipe, or perfect an old favourite.
Cellar 82 has been posting “Tipsy Dinner Club” videos and ideas for cooking at home to create 'boozy food'. Rebels in the Kitchen always offer cooking classes, and have started doing virtual ones on Instagram. Local chef Mélanie, Chef Off the Line, has a website full of great recipes. My friend Olivia (@inspiringolivia) is an avid baker and has not only posted recipes on her blog, but is accepting orders to purchase her tasty baked goods.
Donate or Volunteer
Click here to donate to the Ottawa Food Bank.
The #OttawaAgainstCorona movement provides a central platform for volunteers to connect with those that need help in their neighbourhoods. Click here to go to the Ottawa Shapers website and select “I can help” for a volunteer form.
The need for blood donors is stronger than ever, click here to read more about the Canadian Blood Services safety precautions during this time.
If you sew, think about sewing masks for frontliners, or donate required materials. You can also donate to Frontline Feeds, a student run initiative delivering local food to Covid-19 healthcare workers.
You can donate towards providing hand sanitizer to high-need individuals in the Ottawa area at handsan.ca. Purchase a bottle of sanitizer for yourself from Dairy Distillery, and give one to those fighting Covid-19.
Post a #throwbackthursday photo, or reminisce on your own. Take time to look through old photos, forward them to family and friends and share past memories together.
Ottawa Tourism has begun a weekly #MyOttawaThrowback challenge, to continue telling the story of Ottawa together. Each week will have a new topic.
The annual Canadian Tulip Festival runs (virtually this year) from May 8-18. Take this as an opportunity to not only look back at your own photos, but to remind yourself of the origin of the Tulip Fest and Canada’s role in the liberation of the Netherlands.
Home Happy Hour
Happy hour starts… well whenever we say it starts right now. Pour yourself a drink, and create your own charcuterie or cook some frozen apps. Join Yvonne from Taste and Tipple daily on Instagram for her #VirtualHappyHour. She starts at 5pm and goes through the cocktail making process of the day. Cocktail recipes saved in her Instagram highlights as well as on her website www.tasteandtipple.ca.
Mindfulness and Meditation
You can practise mindfulness anywhere by absorbing the present moment or experience. Use all of your senses to focus on the ‘now’. Try meditation through yoga, a mindful walk, focusing on your breath, or reciting a mantra, as examples.
The Peace Room has begun a 7-week healing meditation on Instagram live each Monday morning, focusing on each of the main chakras. They have other virtual workshops also. YOUNION Mediation Centre has gone virtual with Instagram live meditations. Join Yoga Attic’s virtual lunchtime retreats every Wednesday.
The small, local businesses need our help more than ever. If you’re buying something anyway, check if there is a local option. Get your coffee from Little Victories Coffee, purchase Bee Savvy honey from Cheerfully Made, find a cozy outfit online at Workshop & Flock boutique or find unique gifts at Kindred Shop & Studio. Write a review online if you can’t buy!
Click here for my blog about local shops in downtown Ottawa.
Ottawa Artisans is a local service selling goods handmade in Ottawa. The artistic association Square Lemon is another great resource for locally made goods. Shop local makers at their virtual Mother's Day market, on May 9.
Create a Playlist
Discover new music and rediscover some old favourites. The right song can put you in the right mood! Some talented Ontario artists include; Alanis Morissette, Blue Rodeo, Walk off the Earth, The Tragically Hip, The Recklaws, James Barker Band, Birds of Bellwoods, Delaney Jane, PUP, Meghan Patrick and countless others.
Find my new Spotify playlist of solely Ontario artists, here.
Time in Nature
Go for a nature walk, find an area near water, or with trees; whatever is near your home. Sit in your backyard. If that’s not possible, sit near an open window, bask in the sun, listen to the rain. My favourite Ottawa area inspiration to get outdoors is Victoria from Girl Gone Good!
Discover a new book to read, take an online class, listen to a Ted Talk or podcast, order a gin making kit, take a stab at knitting. Learn something for you.
Class Central is a great site for finding free online learning, due to the Coronavirus. It showcases educational institutions from all over the world, and includes a couple courses from the University of Ottawa.
Click here for a list of Ottawa Podcasters.
Take a bath, put on a face mask or paint your nails. The Ten Spot beauty bars have posted at-home facial and manicure tutorials on their Instagram page. Jask Spa Services, Hair Republic, Hair Junkie Salon, Allure Hair and Spa, among others, are arranging product purchases during this time.
Find organic, clean skin products from Woman Divine Skin Care and Oresta Organic Skin Care. Follow local Ottawa blogger @chantsy for online makeup tutorials.
Order Local Takeout
Take a break from all your cooking and support your local community through food! My friend and fellow blogger Melissa (@melshangrytable) has created a restaurant directory on her website, organizing restaurants by location in Ottawa and including their details regarding takeout / delivery.
Click here to visit my local brewery blog, and here for ice cream shops open during social distance protocols.
If you follow Ottawa River Lifestyle on Facebook or Instagram you’ll have noticed recent posts of themed events, including a country themed night and a beach day.
Think of an outing or activity you love doing and miss during social isolation. Try to turn it into a themed night at home! Do a pub crawl within the rooms of your home, have a fancy date night in, make an obstacle course in the backyard, camp out in the living room.
Click here for a list of theme night ideas.
Do not go for errands unless they are essential. If you go grocery shopping, go prepared with a list, keep your 2-meter distance from others, use hand sanitizer, and clean your groceries and clothes afterwards. To avoid the store, order online for pick up ahead of time.
Freshii has put together various essential grocery bundles of fresh food to be delivered right to your door. Saunders Farm Essentials begins May 1; find their online store through their website for food, groceries, beer, wine and gifts. Kaladar Market created a simple website full of fresh grocery options that can be delivered or picked up. Shop from specific vendors of the Ottawa Farmers' Market for various goods.
Pick something new to clean. Wipe out your fridge, organize your pantry, vacuum the floors, scrub your washrooms, do some laundry. Ottawa company Terra 20 sells many cleaning products, from laundry detergent to all-purpose cleaner. All Eco also sells cleaners, detergents and soaps.
Apply for EI or CERB if you need to and have not yet done so. Talk about your financial position with your partner or family. Write down expenses and create a new budget.
My financial planner friend, and Ottawa valley native, Ambrose Recoskie created the worksheet below as a monthly guide to look at your expenses.
Click here to download my personal excel document for monthly expenses and budgeting.
Check in on your friends and family. Scheduling video calls and set times to chat are a great way to stay close to those we love, and also have something to look forward to.
You can visit Heart and Crown on days they have virtual live music, find House of Targ arcade ‘Free Play Sundays’ on Instagram @arcade_hell, join a Virtual Beer Hall with Brew Donkey, or get a group of friends to compete in the Ottawa Trivia League online.
Dance to let loose. Dance to get a sweat on. Dance to make someone laugh. Dance to learn a Tik Tok. Just dance!
I recently posted a video tutorial teaching a line dance sequence on Instagram – click here. MOOV Ottawa Dance is doing online dance classes on Facebook Live.
Organize your Closet
Take the time to sort through your clothing collection and get rid of what you no longer wear. Put your unworn clothes off to the side in order to donate once these unknown times are over. Tip – store them in a suitcase; you won’t be using that any time soon. Ripped cotton clothes or old socks make great rags!
Local designer Rebecca Rowe creates capsule wardrobes to help you keep your wardrobe diverse and simple. She also has a blog and social media pages full of tips about styling, donating and repurposing.
We need to find new, creative ways to show those we love that we care. Send someone a bottle of wine (Kin Vineyards offering free delivery in Ottawa), a plant for their home (see my plant blog here for options) or a fun greeting card from The Village Quire.
If you can’t spend much money right now on treats, make something personal. Bake some goodies, make a handmade card, or gift something new you made on our craft day!
Go old school with some games at home. You can get outside on a sunny day with a sports ball or Frisbee, or stay indoors with some board games, cards and puzzles. When was the last time you played Snakes and Ladders or Scrabble?
Maker House Co is selling board games and puzzles, as is JV Studios.
Many of us may have the time to get more done, but that does not mean we have the capacity to do so. Shower today. Remember that you do not have to be your best self during these uncertain times.
Purple Urchin sells natural skin care products, including shampoo bars.
As we continue to stay home, our screen time has inevitably increased. Working online from home, virtually connecting with friends, and watching workout videos are all positive ways to be on your laptop or phone. We are relying on technology more than ever to help us stay sane during this time, sanity is also positive. Take some time away from the Netflix binging or social media creeping. Our eyes and minds need a break.
Take an hour or two to remove yourself from digital sources. Read a book, chat with your family, cook and eat a meal without interruptions, go for an unplugged walk.
Have not binged the Tiger King yet? (Seriously, where have you been?) Watch it simply to understand the memes. Watch some great Canadian TV, such as Schitt’s Creek, which just wrapped up their final season. Rediscover an old favourite like Friends or The Office; something that always puts you in a better mood.
Journaling, as a practise, has many benefits such as improving memory, boosting your sense of well-being and tracking goal progress.
Write a letter to your future self or to your young children, reminding them of this time. Write about your experiences and how life has differed since the pandemic and social distancing. What good is coming from this time? What are your biggest fears right now? How did you spend your day?
Local shop The Gifted Type has guided journals for sale online.
There is much we can learn from others, particularly the generation before us. Have a virtual call with your grandparents, an aunt, your parents, a friend’s dad, and ask them about their life. They may have already lived through something comparable to this time; be it a war in another country, an influenza pandemic, the outbreak of HIV and AIDS or an illness of a family member. Ask them questions unrelated to this pandemic also.
COVID-19 has had higher health and social implications for the residents of assisted living facilities. This means no visitors for these seniors. Reach out to a senior living home and ask them how you can help; maybe send cards, flowers, or set up a call. If you have a baby, consider joining Babies Who Volunteer as they virtually connect with local seniors.
You’ve made it another month of social distancing and staying home, get something for you today. Whether it’s picking up a fresh coffee from Morning Owl, ordering a cake from Oh So Good Desserts, or a burger from Burgers N’ Fries Forever.
Even if your day might look and feel like a normal day, we’ve all had a lot of new stressors in the last few months. Enjoy yourself. If you come out of social distancing with the added ‘Quarantine 15’ that’s more than okay.
This is a hard time emotionally and mentally for many of us, please reach out for help if you need. You can reach the Ottawa Distress Centre at (613) 238-3311.