We’re living in strange times, y’all. We’ve been holed up with seemingly nothing to do for weeks now, and since Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has extended the “Stay home, work safe” order through the end of April, we shouldn’t expect things to change anytime soon.

If you ever wanted to pick up a new hobby, there’s no better time than the present. Here are a few suggestions of what you can do in the safety of your own home to keep that mind of yours busy and sane during this COVID-19 pandemic:

Knitting/Crocheting

Guys, it’s not just for grandmas. Whether you try your hand at crocheting or knitting, both can be beneficial for you. Studies have shown that the repetitive nature of these activities help manage stress, which can have rewarding effects on one’s immune system. It not only decreases stress hormones, but also releases good ol’ serotonin and dopamine in our brains.

Although both hobbies are similar, crochet utilizes one hook, while knitting needs two needles. Don’t know how to begin? Craft stores have apps that come packed with a variety of tools, like videos for beginners and project ideas. Here are some resources to help along your journey to creating your own Etsy shop of scarves and tea cozies:

Gardening

Who doesn’t love a good sunflower in these dreary times? Heat resistant, these flowers are right at home here in the Bayou City. If you want these buds (or, others like marigolds or lavender, which repel mosquitos), now is a great time to start seeding. After all, it’s spring and you’ve got nothing better to do. Grab a few packets of seeds or baby plants on your next grocery trip, and get growing! Here are some resources to transform your green thumb:

Online Fitness

I know it’s hard getting out of bed. And getting up for exercise? Even harder. Call this time a second chance at our New Year’s resolutions, because now we have all day to get in a workout. Making time to move our bodies and get the blood pumping is another great way to ease stress and release endorphins to help us through this time. After trying out an online workout (courtesy of PopSugar), I’ve looked into gyms and places in Houston that offer multiple options for people still trying to live the active life. Here’s just a few of them you can check out for yourself:

  •  Follow Black Swan Yoga on Instagram for their free, live sessions of Flow. (Donations accepted!)
  • Follow Boost Pilates on Instagram for a free, daily livestream of a Pilates class. 
  • Check out Life Time online for a variety of their popular workout classes, members and nonmembers alike! 
 
 
 
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Hello to our Tandem community all around the world! 🤗 . We know you might be spending more time at home than usual right now, so Team Tandem just wanted to check in with you all to say “Hello” 👋. . We’ve heard about some incredible stories of support in different communities, and so we’d love to hear from you too - our wonderful Tandem community. What are you doing to give yourself and others that extra boost; both on and off the Tandem app 👏. Send us a DM or email us at [email protected] with your story! You’ll not only lift Team Tandem’s spirits from our home offices, but with your permission, we’d love to spread the good vibes by sharing your story 📢. In a time full of uncertainty, one thing we do know is that our community is more welcoming, open, and inspiring than ever! 💐 . Don’t forget to see if your elderly neighbours need help, to support small business if you can, to follow your local health officials recommended guidelines, and to keep sharing those positive stories with the world and your Tandem partners 🤝! Stay safe and all the best, Team Tandem 😊

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Learning a New Language

Monolingual is so last decade. Knowing even the basics of another language can boost brain power, and fluency can open up a plethora of new career opportunities for you. With so many services in Houston that deal with the semantics of different languages, you can be sure to add another one to your repertoire by the end of the year. But, while we wait this pandemic out, here are a few trusted apps you can use to start your education at home:

  • Want a foreign pen pal? Try Tandem.
  • Like memorization? Memrise is for you. 
  • Like interactive games? Get on DuoLingo.
  • Want something tried and true? Rosetta Stone is a classic. 

Baking Homemade Bread

If y’all have realized what I have in the past week, it’s that flour goes quick at the grocery store—almost as quick as toilet paper. I got to thinking “why are all these people packing in the flour?!” And then it hit me: People are clearly making their own bread (another grocery item that tend to sellout quick).

“All you really need is flour, salt, yeast, and some butter,” says Micah, a baker at an H-E-B. He says if you’re starting out, French bread is the way to go and, suggests if there’re eager kids involved, “rolls are fun!” Here’s a few resources that can help you get cookin’:

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