According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics annual Time Use Survey, the average American has 5 hours of free time per day, with nearly 3 hours spent watching TV.

Though everyone has society-driven cultural needs to understand classic TV shows, such as Friends and take loved ones to the movies, you should consider limiting the time they spend doing mindless activities (which I call “underutilized time”) such as watching TV because it is linked to depression and loneliness — a global pandemic that has skyrocketed due to the Coronavirus that caused many people to lose their jobs and social distance. 

According to Harvard Health, intellectual stimulation, social connection, and exercise significantly boost mental and brain health. “But Americans spend less than an hour per day on socializing and communicating, relaxing and thinking, reading for personal interest, and participating in the exercise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

We think people would benefit by increasing the time spent on these habits, so we gathered some ideas on how to improve your underutilized time through intellectual stimulation, social connections, and exercise:

  • Call your loved ones while you take a walk around your home (rather than go outside since the Coronavirus debatably stays in the air)
  • Sign up for Canteen, a virtual learning network that allows people to conveniently connect via video chat on an app to learn, teach, and earn money on a variety of interests and skills
  • Ask deeper questions to your friends, such as on DeepQuestions (Examples: What type of people do you want to be surrounded by? How do we solve global warming?)
  • Mindfully think about the feeling of washing your hands for the 20 seconds you are spending to prevent contracting the Coronavirus
  • Record yourself on TikTok or Instagram performing 100 jumping jacks and challenge your friends to do the same
  • Take 100 deep breaths while you look out the window
  • Listen to summaries of interesting books online while you pace around the living room
  • Create an online event for your loved ones and friends
  • Read scientific publications on your health or anything that interests you
  • Make up your own recipe and cook
  • Mukbang / socially eat online and make money, such as on Twitch

Feel free to comment below with your own positive and healthy ideas and activities, as engaging also helps with mental and brain health!