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Social Distancing Hobbies To Help You De-Stress

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

Autumn is fading into winter in the northern hemisphere. The pandemic still rages. Social distancing hobbies can help keep us focused during the chilly days of winter, when nights are long and our restlessness is strong.

When the pandemic first pushed us indoors, my feeds were flooded with images and stories of people making the best of an unprecedented situation, diving back into pursuits they’d loved as kids or discovering new hobbies for the first time. We need to recapture some of that energy to keep us going.

Winter is a challenging season under normal circumstances. And 2020 has been anything but normal. We’ll need to prioritize pleasure and rest as much as possible.

These social distancing hobbies can help. They’re inspired by readers like you.

Succulent pots

Succulent pots from take an indoor garden to the next level.

Indoor gardening

So many people started gardening in 2020. Plants and seeds were in short supply as people realized how soothing and rewarding it was to grow things. Now we’re shifting our gardens indoors.

I’ve been interested in succulents since our trip to Arizona. They’re a good choice for new gardeners; as desert plants, succulents need very little water and thrive in winter’s dry indoor air.

You can cluster them in groups, or highlight them in individual succulent pots like these from As an added bonus, the company is woman-owned and emphasizes green, responsibly made products.

Letter Writing

My friend Tari started writing little cards and letters and tucking them into the mail when she moved away. We still keep in touch via social media, but it’s much more fun to open one of her letters. So when the pandemic hit, I figured other people might like to get mail as much as I did.

My handwriting isn’t pretty (my husband loves to point out that I’m a writer who can’t actually write — at least not legibly). It really is the thought that counts.

Lined paper and cool stationary really help. (I also like tucking stickers, bookmarks and other little treats inside.) I’m obsessed with the cards and paper products at Zandbroz in Fargo. You can buy online or ask them to do a little personal shopping for you. (They’re basically wizards.)

Watercolor painting has become one of my favorite social distancing hobbies. I did not see that one coming.


I’ve gravitated toward watercolor paintings by Courtney Stanley and Nichole Gagner since I interviewed them about their work. So when Nicole taught a virtual watercolor workshop (just one of the many sanity-saving virtual workshops offered by Unglued), I jumped at the chance to try it for myself.

I was hooked. Painting with watercolors is really soothing. I’ll never be particularly good at it, but I don’t think that matters at all. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that social distancing hobbies don’t have to be productive to be valuable.


I have never seen as many puzzles in my newsfeed as I saw in the spring of 2020 and the jigsaw puzzle craze hasn’t let up a bit. It’s cool to see these quiet, introverted pursuits trending.

Game Giant, my local game and puzzle place, has a stellar collection that ranges from kids’ puzzles to giant 1,000 piece puzzles, including some configurations I haven’t seen anywhere else. I’m also drawn to the photo and gradient puzzles from

Because reading witches is more fun on Halloween…


If you’re already a reader, I hope you’ve had a chance to make a dent in your must-read list and find a few surprises along the way. I’m a big fan of  asking for recommendations. That how I become obsessed with Agatha Christie mysteries (she’s the third best-selling author in history for a reason, people), the sweeping All Souls historical fantasy trilogy by Deborah Harkness’ and Tomi Adeyemi’s lush, epic Children of Blood and Bone series.

Definitely reach out to an actual human at brick and mortar bookstore. They know more than any algorithm and they need our support more now than ever before. You don’t even have to set foot in the store. If you want to adopt a bookstore, check out my favorite indie bookstores in North Dakota and these lists of Black-owned book shops and cool indie bookstores in the Midwest that I penned for Midwest living.


This pandemic has required sacrifices of all of us. I miss my family and friends the most. Traveling comes in second and my intense Tuesday and Thursday yoga classes third. Yoga channels my mental focus and has made me stronger and more agile than anything else I’ve ever tried.

Thankfully, it’s really easy to practice at home, since all you really need is comfortable clothing and a flat surface. If you’re brand new to yoga, several of my friends recommend Yoga with Adriene for beginners. If you’ve been practicing for a while, Patrick and Carling’s videos are both physically and mentally challenging.

E’s social distancing hobbies include cake decorating. I’m not complaining.

Cooking and Baking

When bread (and then yeast) was scarce this spring it seemed like everybody and their mother (and father, and brother, and next door neighbor) was making sourdough. Then “stress baking” entered the lexicon and I knew I was not alone. I’ve been traveling the world through cookbooks and honoring my Midwestern roots with recipes for bars that are older than I am.

I also taught E to cook and bake this year. He’s fond of baking cakes and made pasta by himself yesterday (with sauce from a jar, because hey, low stress). If you have any suggestions for good kids cookbooks, please let me know!

What about you? What are your favorite social distancing hobbies? Have you been exploring new pastimes or revisiting old ones? What are your favorite ways to spend time at home?

This post is part of paid partnership and includes affiliate links from other vendors. This means I may receive goods, compensation or a small stipend if you purchase something after clicking through from my site. As always, I only share products I love and that I think you’ll use and appreciate too.

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