This is a challenging time for just about everyone. Even beyond the health concerns, many are facing stressors like jobs lost, salaries cut, and savings and portfolios way down. (Though at least tax season has been pushed back…)
And while social distancing and coronavirus isolation is necessary, being alone can add fuel to the fire. Spending time inside, trying not to look at the markets, might be driving you up a wall. So how can you make the most of the coronavirus Cabin Fever?
In fact, there are many ways to keep up your mental health and make the most of your retirement (or pre-retirement), even stuck at home. Below, we highlight five of the best tools and communities to help Boomers pass the time right now.
1. Learn a new skill online
Whether for job training or just personal enrichment, taking online courses is a great and cost-effective way to take advantage of time at home. Sites like Skillshare, Udemy and Coursera offer high quality instruction at low prices – and sometimes free – and are easily available online. It’s never too late to learn new tricks; in fact, many people continue to work, in some capacity, throughout their retirement. With classes ranging from Excel to meditation, painting, web development, and much more, you can learn new business skills, hone old ones, or take up a creative hobby.
A few of our favorites:
- Digital Illustration for All (SkillShare): Find inspiration from the world around you to develop your unique illustration style. Develop confidence in your own artistic strength. SimplyWise users can access a free 2-month trial here.
- Business Bootcamp (Udemy): This class prepares you to launch your own business doing what you love. Meant to be completed over seven weeks, the course is designed to lead people of any experience level through the process, step-by-step. It costs $10.99.
- Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects (Coursera): Thinking of starting a new career, or looking to learn new skills? Access learning techniques used by experts to tackle any topic and change your thinking – and your life.
2. Reconnect with family and friends — and meet new ones!
Events, parties, shows, coffees, dinners… canceled. Even an innocent walk with a friend has become off limits. Luckily, it has never been easier to digitally connect. Write an email to an old friend. Download Whatsapp video (free to use) and meet your coffee date, or catch up with that family member. Or get the whole family on the Houseparty app so you can virtually play games all together.
Moreover, it has also never been easier to connect with people you don’t yet know who share similar experiences or interests. There are moderated Facebook groups (and even support networks) where you can access resources and speak to other Americans. Depending where you’re coming from, we’d recommend these to get you started:
- Sassy Seniors: For anyone over 60, a pretty hilarious open community for seniors “having fun, complaining, and remembering.”
- Smitten Kitchen: What better time to learn how to cook some new recipes! Find your new favorite thing to cook in this open page.
- Women’s Divorce Support Group: A closed group of women who share support, encouragement, and positive solutions.
3. Pick up or practice a foreign language
Remember those times you said you were going to learn French but never went through with it? Now is the time to change that!
Here are some options:
- DuoLingo: For those who want a fun way to learn a language for free and by themselves, Duolingo offers dozens of choices and is free and addictive. Not only will you learn vocabulary, but you can train your pronunciation and benefit from personalized learning.
- iTalki: Want to have one-on-one instruction while picking up or practicing a language? If yes, iTalki is a terrific option, where you can find almost any language you can think of. An hour of one-on-one Spanish lessons could cost you as little as $5, while French is as low as $8. If you are interested in training by speaking, this is a great way to go!
4. Bring the gym to you
Resist the urge to become a couch potato! While we’re confined to our houses, it’s more important than ever to be sure we stay active and move around. There are a number of online videos and tutorials to help you work out and stay fit. We particularly recommend @TrainWithJoan. Joan, who got into the best shape of her life after 70, shares both inspiration and exercises and stretches you can do from home. She is the go-to fitness influencer for retirees during coronavirus cabin fever — and beyond.
5. Plan for your retirement
Of course, given the economic uncertainty, making financial changes is something all of us will have to do for the months and even years ahead.
Whether you’re planning for retirement or already retired, this can be an ideal moment to reassess what you need and make (or update) your plan. So take this extra quiet time to estimate your potential Social Security retirement benefits and decide when you can stop working.
Fortunately, it’s no longer necessary to go to the financial advisor’s office to start or continue this process.
With SimplyWise, you can calculate your Social Security and explore work opportunities and other ways to generate income in retirement, as well as evaluate ways to reduce expenses.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to take precautions while socially distancing right now. But that doesn’t need to stop you from living and even enjoying your life. You can turn the coronavirus Cabin Fever into a productive time at home.
Exercising, socializing, and learning new skills are all important for seniors to keep up your mental today. The same goes for taking a breath to allow yourself to reassess your financial situation and make whatever changes you need to.
There are a number of digital tools right at your fingertips that are largely free to use. So while things might feel overwhelming and also lonely, take this as a time to slow down, regroup, and reconnect.
And stay healthy!