Picture of a person sitting at a kitchen table working at a laptop.

Tips for Working From Home This Summer

Many employers have made it official: Their employees will be working from home this summer. Now that you know the plan for the next couple of months, here are some things to think about.

Take time off

Remember to use paid time off to enjoy time away from work. “You need to do this,” said Melissa Gardner, senior vice president at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “I encourage the folks on the team I lead to enjoy a long weekend or take a Wednesday off to break up the week.”

Set up your workspace

Maybe you’ve been making do with a corner of the kitchen table or the couch. With at least a couple of months ahead of you, it may be time to figure out if you have what you really need. Do you have a keyboard and mouse, a large enough monitor, a comfortable chair? Make your set up work for you.

Check out the video below for more tips on setting up an at-home workspace:

Get outside

Take advantage of being at home this summer. Work outside if you can or sit near an open window. Schedule breaks to sit in the sun for 5 minutes to get some Vitamin D.

Take a walk or run

Stretch your legs by walking or jogging around the neighborhood at lunch. Take a walk for meetings where you don’t need to be on screen. “Nobody will know if you are sweaty when you login to a meeting,” said Gardner.

Check out the video below for more tips on being physically active at home:

Assess your workday

Be mindful about taking breaks, stepping away from the computer and getting up to move about during the day. If you find this hard to do, schedule reminders on your phone or write a note by your computer that gets your attention.

Stop working

Set an end to your work day. Being home doesn’t mean you have to be on call 24/7.

Talk about what you need

Talk to your leader, colleagues, or anyone else to share what you are feeling and to find what is working for others. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you are handling your work/life balance.

Find replacements

If there are things you’ve been wishing to do once things open up, find a new way to do them now. “If the first thing you want to do is go out for a nice dinner, find a great restaurant that is offering takeout, set your table, light a candle and make it an experience now,” advises Gardner.

Stop apologizing

Stop worrying about your appearance when you’re on a video conference. Gardner reminds her team members that they are not alone in being unshaven, wearing glasses, not wearing makeup, or being on screen with a messy mop of hair. “Be comfortable with who you are and make no apologies,” she preaches.

Share what’s working for you

Let your colleagues know about your at-home success and failures and listen carefully to theirs.  “We’re all in this together,” said Gardner.

Picture of a woman lacing up her sneakers on a track

Virtual Races: Connect, Support, and Get Moving

As we take precautions and physically distance ourselves, people are finding new ways to stay connected, support their community, and get moving through virtual races and events. While traditional events that bring us together have been sidelined, virtual events allow runners, walkers and bikers to create their own course, often with their front steps as the starting point.

Kelsey Gratien, an avid runner from Erie County, is using virtual events to motivate herself and her family to get moving. “With traditional 5Ks cancelled for the foreseeable future, I’ve taken this opportunity to try some new things like running with my kids on their bikes and training for a fast mile,” said Kelsey. A long-time competitive runner, Kelsey is finding that virtual events still appeal to her competitive side. “I’ve done a couple virtual races of varying distances, and while certainly not the same, they’ve kept me motivated and appeased my competitive side for now,” she said.

Kelsey Gratien

Kelsey Gratien

More Freedom and Friendly Competition? Sign Me Up!

A virtual race is a race that you choose to complete wherever you like and at your own pace.

Benefits of virtual races include:

  • Freedom to run, walk, bike or climb when and where you wish. You’re also free to participate inside on a treadmill or stationary bike.
  • Complete when you’re ready. Unlike traditional races that are held on a set day, some virtual ones extend over periods of time like weeks or months.
  • Less social pressure that can come with a traditional race like worrying about times or where you are in the pack. You can feel more comfortable going at your own pace.
  • Friendly competition with family and friends near or far. A virtual race is a fun way to motivate and hold each other accountable when you can’t be together physically. For those looking for more than a friendly competition, many virtual events have websites where you can track your progress against others.
  • Anyone can join. A virtual race is perfect for all levels of runners, walkers or bikers. That makes virtual races a perfect activity for the whole family.
  • Support an important cause. Virtual races often benefit a charity or community organization.

Why We Need Movement, Especially Now

Movement is a critical part of wellbeing. Engaging in physical activity is a one of the most important ways to improve health. It has been shown to reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, positively impact most health conditions and help you get a good night’s sleep. In today’s world, many people are struggling to get enough physical activity, which can have an impact both physically and mentally. Remember, ‘motion is lotion’ to your joints, muscles….and even your brain, lungs, heart and gut!

“Participating in a walk or run actually improves your immune system. And getting others to walk or run with you, even virtually, spreads health to others,” said Brian Justice, D.C., a chiropractor and medical director at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Virtual Races in Upstate N.Y.

Ready to get started? Here are some upcoming or ongoing virtual events:

  • ROC Juneteenth – a 5K run/walk that supports the construction of Rochester’s Civil Rights Heritage Park.
    • When: now – June 19, 2020
  • Delaware Park 4th of July, Freedom Loop Challenge – Complete two or four loops of Delaware Park in support of the People Inc COVID-19 Relief Fund.
    • When: July 1 – July 5, 2020
  • Tour de Keuka* – a charity bike ride that benefits the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.
    • When: now – July 18, 2020
  • Fight For Air Climb, Buffalo* – a stair climb that benefits the American Lung Association.
    • When: June 11 – July 11, 2020
  • The Daemen Dash – a 1-mile run/walk that is free to join.
    • When: July 9 – July 23, 2020
  • 2020 Boilermaker* – run/walk a 15K or 5K in support of the Boilermaker organization, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
    • When: September 1 – September 13, 2020
  • Tour de Cure, Rochester* – ride, run or walk and support the American Diabetes Association.
    • When: October 3, 2020
  • City Walks – virtual city walks available any time through Rally Health for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield members with Healthy Rewards.

Did we miss any virtual events? Please share more in the comments!

Note: If you choose to run, walk, or bike outside, please continue to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on protecting yourself and avoid large groups or running close to each other. If you have a chronic health condition, be sure to talk with your doctor about the types of physical activity that are right for you.

*Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is a sponsor of this event.

Picture of a man and woman

Introvert, Extrovert… or Both. How Social Distancing Has Impacted Us All

Social Distancing is an Introvert’s Dream Come True Right?

Not exactly. Patrick McDaniels, a self-described introvert and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield program analyst, dug into this question. He interviewed three individuals to explore how introverts and extroverts are experiencing this extended period of physical distancing.

“I am most comfortable going for a walk with my dogs and wife, jumping into a home improvement project, putting my headphones on and exercising, or catching up with my tight-knit group of friends,” Patrick said.

Picture of a man and a woman each holding a dog

Patrick McDaniels with his wife Byrn, and their dogs Rosie (sweater) and Tucker.

Similarly, Paula Miller, who is an introvert and Excellus BCBS program analyst, says, “It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of people, it’s just that I expend energy when I’m around a lot of people.”

No one is 100% introverted or extroverted

Patrick explained that there are many misconceptions about introverts, such as that they are shy or don’t enjoying being in social situations. However, that just isn’t the case.

Angel Alvarez, a self-described “ambivert” and Excellus BCBS sales consultant says, “I kind of prefer smaller groups. However, in the same breath, I enjoy being a DJ outside of work and performing in front of crowds.”

Sady Fischer, on the other hand, describes herself as an extrovert. Sady, director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Excellus BCBS says, “I’m definitely energized through brainstorming and talking things out. It’s just part of my nature. But honestly, I also believe we all have a variety of different traits and that, over time, we’re able to flex and stretch, especially based on work experiences and even our personal experiences.”

Click on the links below to hear the full interviews from an introvert (Paula Miller), an ambivert (Angel Alvarez) and an extrovert (Sady Fischer) as they all uniquely navigate these challenging times.

Introvert: Paula Miller

Ambivert: Angel Alvarez

Extrovert: Sady Fischer

How do I find out what describes my personality best?

Curious about where you fall on the spectrum of introversion or extroversion? Here is an easy assessment tool you can access from Ideas.Ted.Com that can give you an idea based on a few short questions. Questions include: are you quiet and reflective or talkative and outgoing; are you most comfortable out in front of a group or in the background; and are you more productive in a quiet room or public place like a cafe? Learning about your own preferences can help you find better ways to cope with stress or approach problems.

Challenge Yourself to Overcome Biases

Learn to understand others and challenge your own biases. Do you have an unconscious preference for introverts or extroverts? For instance, is your circle of friends, family or co-workers made up of folks who are more like you?

Sady says that personality assessments and similar tools are helpful in terms of learning about broader groups of people and experiences. But, she also cautions:

“As with any grouping of people, it is easy to fall into the trap of making assumptions or stereotypes about people. All introverts and all extroverts are not the same. Plus, we all fall within a range of those two categorizations. Remember that everyone is an individual. The best way to learn about preferences in communication, learning, and work styles is to simply ask: What do you need?

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, check out  The Power of Introverts – TED Talk by Susan Cain.

Picture of a family on top of a mountain

Get Outdoors: Nature for Stress Management

Whether it’s hiking Bald Mountain, kayaking on First Lake, or just relaxing by the fire at their Old Forge camp, Eve Van de Wal, who resides in Oneida County, has found that being outdoors in nature does her mind and body good.

“Just a walk, a hike, or snowshoeing at a leisurely pace is amazing exercise,” she explained. “You don’t even feel like you are working out because it’s so beautiful and so enjoyable.”

There are many aspects of a healthy lifestyle that you can include and promote by simply stepping outside.

Get Busy Relaxing

For Eve, her husband, Dale, and their family, escaping into the Adirondacks to enjoy the benefits of nature has been a family affair. It started for Eve when she was a young girl born and raised in the Utica area.

The tradition of visiting the mountains, forests, and streams in the Adirondacks, with its vibrant blend of public and private lands, created wonderful memories for the Van de Wals as they enjoy all that nature has to offer.

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“There is never a time that we are bored or can’t find something to appreciate outside when we are there. We keep busy with the boat, fishing, walks, hikes… but it’s a busy that always feels relaxing,” she explained.

Nature for Stress Management

In fact, the Adirondack High Peaks and hundreds of miles of diverse waterways have had such a positive impact on Eve that she has also noticed an improvement to her physical health.

“I have high blood pressure and try to take care of myself, and stress management is part of it. I never feel like I am stressed, but as soon as I get in my car and head to Old Forge, I can feel a difference in my overall wellbeing with the tension relaxing in my neck and shoulders.” Eve explained. “The time I spend hiking or just relaxing outside with a book is something beneficial that I do for myself without even realizing it.”

Research supports exactly what Eve and her family have experienced, said Amanda Shanahan, RD, Employee Wellbeing Manager, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Contact with nature recharges our brain allowing us to better cope with the stresses of life,” Amanda said. “Our brains and bodies are often overtaxed with the everyday demands of modern life. Our brains don’t have to work the same way to pay attention to nature which allows time for restoration. The result can mean improved mood, creativity, concentration and stress relief.”

Other benefits of being outdoors:

Protect your bones – Sunlight hitting the skin eventually leads to the creation of vitamin D in your body.  Something we all need to protect us against osteoporosis and other diseases. Just 10 – 15 minutes a few times a week with the sun hitting your arms and legs is all that is needed.  If you’re going to be out longer, put on the sunscreen!

Age gracefully – Older people that get out every day stay healthy and functioning longer.  Studies have shown that those who have contact with nature have fewer complaints of aches and sleep issues along with other health-related problems.

Enjoying the Outdoors with Care

While busy enjoying the benefits of the sunshine and fresh air, Eve said she is always mindful that there are dangers to keep in mind. She said it’s important to follow certain preventive measures.

“It’s important to take steps to prevent diseases associated with the outdoors like Lyme Disease and skin cancer,” she said.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, in 2018, New York state had close to 2,500 confirmed Lyme disease cases. Lyme disease is a bacterial disease transmitted by an infected tick. When caught early, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. The best way to fight tick-borne illnesses is by preventing them in the first place. Dr. Nicholas Massa, medical director at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, offers these simple, yet effective, tips to avoid getting this disease:

  • Wear long sleeves and pants outdoors
  • Use insect repellent
  • Check everyone, including pets, when you return, and quickly remove any ticks you find

Dr. Massa also warns of the dangers of skin cancer, the most common cancer of those in the United States. Keep these tips in mind provided by the Skin Cancer Foundation and CDC when outdoors:

  • Seek shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter before you need relief from the sun
  • When possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays
  • For the most protection, wear a hat with a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure
  • Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days

Nature is all around you

Eve and her family have created countless memories in the Adirondacks. What are your favorite outdoor locations in New York state? For some it may be the beautiful Letchworth State Park, renowned as the “Grand Canyon of the East”  and one of the most scenically magnificent areas our area. Perhaps it’s Buttermilk Falls State Park, which takes its name from the foaming cascade formed by Buttermilk Creek as it flows down the steep valley side toward Cayuga Lake.

Comment below and share with us where nature takes you!

Picture of feet walking down the stairs

Get Up and Move!

Chances are that you are reading this article sitting down. Try standing up while you read the rest of this article.

Sitting down for longs periods of time can be harmful to your health in many ways, including being less active. Sitting can put us at risk for some serious stuff like heart disease or diabetes. This is even true for people who exercise regularly.

Moving more throughout the day will…

  • Decrease your chance of back pain
  • Reduce your risk of clots
  • Improve your mental health
  • Make you healthier and happier

As you go throughout your day, we encourage you to try to sit, stand, and move around at regular intervals by…

  • Sitting for 20 minutes
  • Standing for 8 minutes
  • Moving for 2 minutes

Incorporating these small changes will have a lasting effect on your overall health and your mental well-being.

Set a timer for 20 minutes to move. 20 minutes will go by a lot faster than you think.

Tip: There is a built in timer in Windows 10. Just type “Timer” on your start menu in your computer and it will pull it up. You can also find free timer and stopwatch apps for your smart phone in Google Play or the iPhone App store.

Picture of a man lying in the grass listening to music

Mindfulness: Being Present is the Best Present to Give Yourself

With all of the uncertainty we have in the world at this time, it’s even more important to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is truly a state of mind. It’s being present in the moment, focusing on what is going on right now. You can apply mindfulness to all aspects of your life. Being mindful allows you to experience life as it’s happening, without excessive worry over the past or future. Try these tips for practicing mindfulness.

Mindful Eating

  • Avoid distractions such as reading or watching TV while you eat.
  • Focus on your food. Before you dig in, spend a couple of minutes noticing your food.  How does it look, how does it smell, how does it make you feel?
  • Take a bite. How does it taste and feel in your mouth?
  • Savor your bites – sometimes the first couple are the most satisfying. Rate your hunger level from 1 to 10 before you move on.
  • Give yourself permission to enjoy food.

Mindful Exercise

  • Begin by doing something you enjoy or maybe with someone you like.
  • Notice your surroundings. If you’re outside, look for something new. Maybe it’s the flowers or the activity of squirrels.
  • Focus on how good it feels to simply move and be active.
  • Pay attention – to the sounds around you and the breeze on your skin. If you’re lifting weights, pay attention to your form and try to perform each rep perfectly. If you’re doing yoga, concentrate on your breathing and holding a pose.

Mindful Relationships

  • Pay attention to others, listening closely to their words. Try to understand another’s point of view and delay your own reaction and judgment.

Mindful Mind

  • Take a few deep breaths when you are feeling stressed. Think about what is stressing you. Will it matter in five years? Is there anything you can do about it? If not, let it go!
  • For support, try this link https://blog.calm.com/take-a-deep-breath.
Picture of young child sitting at table looking puzzled

Are You Really Hungry or Just Bored or Stressed?

Before mindlessly eating potato chips or chocolate chips straight out of the bag, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or is this stress or boredom?”

Yes, I’m hungry

If you are hungry, the best thing to do is eat – but do it mindfully. Give the food your full attention.  “When we eat mindlessly it’s as if we are feeding someone else”, says Pat Salzer, RD, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

“It takes more food and calories to feel satisfied if you aren’t focused,” she explains. “Eating mindfully means to pause before eating. Make eating a singular activity versus doing it while watching TV, working on the computer, driving, or reading the paper.”

No, it’s not hunger

If you answer the question with no, I am not truly hungry, you may be eating for other reasons. It may be stress or boredom. Often our mindless eating is for these very reasons. The word stressed spelled backwards is desserts – not cauliflower, kale or rutabaga, Salzer jokes.

“It may help to have a ‘joy list’ or ‘menu of comfort’ that doesn’t involve food to refer to when you need some soothing,” she suggests.

Try substituting some non-food activities to fill the void that you thought was hunger at first.

Add These Items to Your “Joy List”

  • Light a candle
  • Enjoy a cup of tea or glass of water
  • Write a letter
  • Call (yes, call) a friend
  • Meditate, journal, breathe, day dream
  • Take a bath/shower
  • Brush your teeth
  • Play a game
  • Clean out a drawer (probably not one in the kitchen)
  • Get moving: run upstairs, go down the hall, walk around your house
  • Put on some music.
  • Get outside and take a walk
  • Read a non-work-related, entertaining magazine for 20 minutes
  • Take seven slow deep breaths
  • Play with your pets or children

Breakfast and a routine can help

A solid routine that starts in the morning can also help with mindless eating. Eat balanced meals and snacks when hungry. Salzer offers some helpful tips for healthy breakfast here.

Creating a routine can help ensure that you’re making time to care for yourself, adds Amanda Shanahan, RD, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.  “I don’t recommend eating based strictly on the clock, but I would suggest building time into your schedule throughout the day to check in with yourself, ask ‘how am I feeling (stressed, bored, worried)?’ ‘am I hungry?’ ‘what do I feel like eating?” she said.

Have meal options (and snacks) planned out so that you can eat healthy when you are hungry. This can minimize eating your way through the kitchen. Shanahan suggests mixing and matching your meal based on these basics:

Half of Your Plate
• Fruits and veggies – a variety of fresh, canned (low sodium and without added sugar), and frozen (without butter or sauce)

¼ of Your Plate
• Protein – choose from beans, legumes, tofu, nuts & seeds or lean meats and poultry and seafood.

¼ of Your Plate
• Whole grains – have brown rice or quinoa precooked in the fridge or whole grain bread and pasta ready to prepare.

Visit our nourish tips and short mindful eating video for more helpful information.

Man smiling holding phone

Connecting and Lifting Spirits

No doubt, our world has seen dramatic change recently. What we’ve come to take for granted – visiting with friends, attending social events – has been paused as we work to “stop the spread.”

However challenging the past few weeks have been, the resiliency of the human spirit has risen to the challenge. Countless stories are being shared about ways neighbors are helping neighbors and lifting spirits – even while remaining at a distance.

Kent Gooding, from Ontario County, reached out to share a story and video about how his dad, Jack, is spreading happiness and connecting with others in his senior living community. Kent says he is proud and inspired by his dad’s actions. Please read his story, I think you’ll be inspired too.

Proud and Inspired

“Given the uncertainties of our current environment it is easy to get discouraged, but this video lifted my spirits and I wanted to share it with you.

Jack sitting in a chair while his son, Kent stands behind him

Kent and his dad, Jack (photo courtesy of Kent Gooding)

My Dad is 90 years old and is in an assisted living facility in Illinois. Early in life he was a professional musician playing clarinet and saxophone. He gave that up shortly after he met my Mom because he wanted to raise a family in a more stable environment. He kept playing however, mostly at church events. I was always amazed at how we could request any song and he could play it without any sheet music.

His assisted living facility is quarantined now and yesterday he decided to play “What a Wonderful World” on his clarinet. A staff member captured it on video and sent it to my family. On top of everything else, Monday was the anniversary of my Mom’s passing. Their 70th anniversary would have been in May. I was both proud and inspired by this.”

Click on the arrow in the box below to watch Jack’s performance


Do you have a story about caring, unexpected gestures from friends, neighbors or strangers? If so, please share your story in the comments below so everyone can share in the inspiration.

Dog sitting on the floor beside couch with sneaker laces in mouth

Snuggles, Physical Activity and Companionship: Pets offer Health Benefits While Working from Home

Decreased blood pressure, increased feelings of companionship and opportunities for exercise – all these benefits and more come with owning a pet.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the routine of having to meet your pet’s daily needs breeds responsibility and a feeling of accomplishment.

Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and more all have benefits for their owners. Studies have shown that just petting an animal triggers dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin in human beings, which reduce our stress levels and help us remain calm. The American Heart Association notes that health benefits of owning a pet include decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness. It doesn’t hurt that dog ownership leads to increased exercise and outdoor time, and any type of pet allows human beings to experience decreased feelings of loneliness and help them feel supported.

There are plenty of pet owners who can attest to the truth of these studies. With more time now spent at home, pet owners are finding the extra activity, and all those extra snuggles, are doing them some good.

The Pets We Didn’t Know We Needed

Peter Kates, of Erie County, didn’t want to adopt a Havanese puppy last year. “I didn’t think we needed a dog, but I can’t imagine him living with anyone else,” Peter said.

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Peter and his family adopted Henri as a type of a therapy pet for his daughter, Madeleine, who has some health issues, including frequent migraines.  One day, Henri made a beeline for Madeleine’s left ankle and began licking furiously. Less than 10 minutes later, Madeleine had one of her migraines. Now, whenever Henri does this, they know a migraine is coming on, Peter says.

Picture of a white guinea pig

Pearl Kates (photo courtesy of Peter Kates)

If this puppy love fills Peter’s home with warmth, his past and current guinea pigs – Nutmeg and Pearl – push it to overflowing. Nutmeg, lived to seven and a half years old – almost double the average life expectancy of the furry rodents. These insanely loyal and loving pets keep the Kates’ busy.  “They’re very social animals, like tribbles in Star Trek,” said Peter. “They interact with you, they have personalities, they have unique behaviors, and they’re just great pets.”

Balancing Daisy, Prince, Poppy and a Laptop

Liz Kiniorski, of Monroe County, says her photogenic Shih Tzu, Daisy Starlet Sparkle Fluffy-Pants is popular not only in her home but with the general public through her own Instagram page.

“She has more Instagram followers than me,” Liz said. “She’s just starting to build her brand.”

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Liz and Daisy do everything together, from going to community events to hiking on trails. Working from home with Daisy has had its ups and downs, though, Liz says.

“She loves that I’m home all day, but wants a lot of attention,” she said. “She will stare at me while I’m working and if I don’t give her attention right away, she will tap me gently with her paw until she gets the attention she wants… I’ve figured out a way to balance my laptop on the corner of my couch so when I am catching up on emails or reading reports, she can lay in my lap.”

And with no coworkers to socialize with, Daisy is now Liz’s go-to break buddy. “We go for a lot of walks each day,” Liz said. “She might be anxious for me to get back into the office!”

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Adding to the excitement is trying to work with two 6-month-old kittens, Liz said. She got Prince and Poppy-Pinkerbelle in October. “Last week I had to untangle Poppy from the curtains during a conference call,” she said. “Prince really wants to type on my laptop.”

How do your pets help you work from home?

Share your story in the comments below.

A child playing with cookie dough

14 Ways to Spend Your Leisure Time

Even though going out to movies, concerts, large social gatherings, restaurants are on hold while we practice social distancing, there are many ways to continue to enjoy leisure time activities – albeit on a smaller scale.

Looking for some fun, creative thing to do? Here are a few recommendations:

1. Cook!

“Shop” your pantry for ingredients and create! Grab a cookbook off the shelf or search the internet and try something new. Explore your inner-gourmet, or if quick and easy is more your style, you’re bound to find something to please your palate.

2. Dine out at home!

Many local restaurants remain open for take-out or delivery orders. Support local restaurant businesses by ordering out or purchase gift cards for future use. Visit your favorite local restaurants online or call ahead to see if they’re offering take-out or delivery service and check out the menu! Many local newspapers and Chambers of Commerce post lists of take-out/delivery restaurants on their websites. Or check out the website Local for Later for restaurants in Upstate, NY.

3. Catch a Flick

If ever there was a time for guilt-free binge watching, it’s now! Watch a show or series, check out a movie, concert or documentary. Cable and streaming services offer entertainment 24/7.

4. Read!

Many libraries offer E-books. Sign in with your library card and download or get a membership. Here’s a link to the Onondaga County Library System, Monroe County Library System, the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress for information about how to check out their E-books and audiobooks. Whatever your favorite genre, biography, fiction or non-fiction you’ll find a library of choices online.

5. Take a virtual tour

Visit a museum or zoo – online. A quick online search will identify options – many offer live streams.

6. DIY

Are you a home improvement or DIY fan? Since you’re home – now may be a good time to catch up on a project or two.

7. Brighten your space

Crafty? Try your hand at a new craft project. You’ll find lots of ideas online. Craft projects can brighten your space – and your spirits.

8. Roll the Dice

Board games aren’t boring! Dust off a game and have some classic fun.

9. One piece at a time

Complete a puzzle – maybe one of those 1000+ piece ones!

10. Get moving!

Take a walk around the yard, check out an online exercise class or download an app.

11. Harness your green thumb

Plant a garden – in the yard or a container. An herb garden can add color to your space and your recipes!

12. Connect Virtually

Schedule a virtual visit with friends and family via Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp or another platform.

13. Share ideas!

Share ideas! Ask others what they’re doing to keep busy. You may pick up a new hobby – or be inspired to tackle the “to-do” list!

  • Colleen Garofalo of Syracuse tackled something she’d been wanting to do. “I cleaned out some cabinets and drawers in the master bath over the weekend. Got rid of two bags full of stuff and organized what was kept,” she said. “It looks amazing! Going to move on to the next room this weekend!”
  • “We got a head start on fall/winter clean up,” said Sara Rink of Rochester. “We have other weekend warrior jobs planned since we are not as mobile to escape. Power washing concrete, digging moss out of the walkway and re-sanding, what to do with the deck – ugh!” The time at home has given her time to plan. “It helps when the sun is out! We do hope this will pass very soon but making plans to better our surroundings is a good fresh start.”

14. Laugh

And lastly, don’t forget to laugh! As they say, laughter is the best medicine. It helps reduce stress and improves the mood.

For more ideas, check out this recent USA Today article 100 Things to Do When Stuck Inside