by Marty Nemko

How can we stand it: All Mensa meetings cancelled until further notice?! And you’ve already watched enough movies, called everyone you care to speak with, and still are starting to get stir-crazy being cooped up. Might one or more of these at least reduce your cabin fever:

  • A virtual get-together. Last week, my wife and I invited a couple for a virtual brunch: We each made a company dish that sounded great and looked beautiful but that hadn’t made before. That way, if our experiment bombed, the guests wouldn’t have suffered the consequences. Both couples set the table as though for a lovely brunch and then we set up our laptops on the table. We showed off our creations, simultaneously raised our glasses in a champagne toast to “virtual fun” and had a lovely, fun-filled conversation and scheduled a date to do it again.
  • An addictive video game. Normally, we avoid those time sucks, but now, we may be looking for a fun time-filler. Here are time-tested, top-rated addictive games that are fun and use at least part of our Mensa brain rather than just mindlessly shooting zombies: Stardew Valley, Portal 2, and Journey.
  • Upgrade your work or avocational skills? It could be as simple as watching YouTube or taking short online courses through Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Udacity, Coursera, or EdX.
  • Do you want to practice or take on a new creative activity such as singing or playing a musical instrument, writing a song, article, poem, short story, non-fiction book, novel, or screenplay? Or even something unusual like futurism or learning magic tricks? Might you want to take lessons remotely, or if your jurisdiction allows, one-on-one, following the 6-foot social distancing rule?
  • Spring is here—the perfect time for growing things. Want to order some houseplants online, maybe something exotic like orchids. Gardening is America’s #1 hobby and for good reason: You get to see the miracle of growth, it’s good exercise, and you get to grow your own fruits and veggies—no supply chain problem. Even if you live in an apartment, order seeds or plants and plant herbs or flowers in a window box or even on a sunny windowsill. Here’s an article on growing your own.
  • Take up or practice a sport. Even in jurisdictions mandating significant social distancing, you’re allowed to exercise: Want to do more walking or hiking? How about practicing your sport solo—for example, shooting hoops, practicing tennis or pickleball on a wall, or if allowed, playing those sports. You’ll be more than 6 feet apart from other players, and it’s outdoors so any aerosol transmission is very diluted. (I do suggest minimizing contact with door and gate handles, avoiding touching your face, and washing your hands or using sanitizer when you leave the court.)
  • You say you’ve called everyone you want to. But might you want to develop some new relationships, for example, by participating in an online forum related to your career or avocation? Or deepen an existing relationship: A close friendship is a treasure and can also be key to career success in an era in which good-quality, stable jobs may become increasingly rare.
  • This could be a great time to adopt a dog. Most social-distancing mandates allow walking a pooch. And a dog provides contact that many people crave. Yes, there have been two dogs in Hong Kong that had a minor amount of coronavirus in their nostrils, but the evidence is pretty clear that as long as you don’t let your doggie kiss your face, the risk of transmission, let alone it causing serious illness, is very small. There are save-a-life pet adoption websites, all with searchable databases:,, and Is it time for you to save a life?

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