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by Nicole Long, MSW, LICSW

Summer is upon us, but amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it will certainly be different. In light of this, here are some ideas for staying busy, entertained and connected to others while continuing to take precautions and practice social distancing.

Green thumb. Gardening is a wonderful way to spend time outdoors. Not only is gardening good exercise, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If space allows, how about planting a vegetable garden or a tomato patch? If you like flowers that bloom all summer long, consider planting annuals. Limited space? How about a window box of fragrant herbs or a container garden of flowers and plants, which could be placed on a deck, porch or walkway.

Coffee sunrise. Grab your favorite mug and head outside to revel in nature’s sights and sounds at dawn.

Get creative. Whether you take pleasure in drawing, painting or photography, bring your sketchbook, paints, and camera outdoors to gain inspiration from the natural world.

Take a stroll. Walking is one of the most pleasant forms of exercise. During the heat of summer, opt to walk when it’s a little cooler, typically early morning or late in the day. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far you walk; simply enjoy it.  Not able to get out outdoors?  Take advantage of the virtual exercise programs that senior centers offer for free or reach out to your local YMCA.

Beach books. Like a good “beach read?” Reading is an ideal activity, particularly on a record-breaking humid or rainy day. Looking for new material? Many libraries offer eBooks, audiobooks, streaming media, and digital resources. Visit your local library’s website to learn more about these options.

Puzzle mania.  Whether you’re working on an intricate jigsaw puzzle that takes many hours to finish, or you’re completing the daily crossword, puzzles are great brain games. Can’t figure out a crossword clue? Phone a friend and work on it together.

Toe-tapping tunes. Music is powerful. Studies have shown that listening to music can help to boost mood and may even help people to feel calmer. Listening to upbeat music can bring joy. Make time for music each day.

Virtual tours. Enjoy viewing incredible works of art from the comfort of your home? Many museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, offer online exhibitions and collections. In fact, there are many popular places offering tours and videos online, including zoos, aquariums, and even national parks.

Stargazing. Consider the wonders of the night sky. Gaze at the moon, find the Big Dipper and wait for a shooting star. Curious about constellations or the next Perseid meteor shower? It’s a great time to delve into the universe.

Although these months of social distancing are challenging, maintaining social connections is key. Stay in touch with family and friends on a regular basis through phone calls, emails and texts. Learn how to use videoconferencing technology, such as FaceTime on your phone or Zoom for virtual visits. Stay up-to-date on state and local city/town guidance by monitoring Mass.Gov, the local city/town website, or call 211 for more information. Above all, stay positive and enjoy the warm, sunny days ahead.

About the Author

Nicole Long is the Chief Executive Officer of Old Colony Elder Services (OCES).  Founded in 1974, OCES is a private, non-profit organization proudly serving greater Plymouth County and surrounding communities. OCES is designated as one of 25 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES’ mission is to support the independence and dignity of older adults and individuals with disabilities by providing essential information and services that promote healthy and safe living. The agency offers a number of programs to serve older adults, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers. For more information call 508-584-1561 or visit www.ocesma.org