Elevate Your Mind and Lift Your Spirits in Quarantine

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We all could do with some distractions during quarantine due to the state of the world right now. Cobalt rounded up our best escapist recommendations that allow us to learn, laugh, cry and even “travel” from the comfort of our homes.


Podcasts keep you company and teach you new things. Or drown out your kids’ fighting. You can listen to them together with a spouse or other loved one and then follow up to discuss and debate. Staff favorites include:

  • Every Little Thing answers your burning questions about the mysteries of everyday life
  • Criminal talks about people who’ve done wrong, been wronged or gotten caught somewhere in the middle
  • Invisibilia is about how unseen forces control human behavior and shape ideas, beliefs, and assumptions
  • Hidden Brain reports on the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior
  • Stuff You Should Know is an informative, entertaining offshoot of HowStuffWorks

Culture and Art

Google’s Art and Culture Pages have the collections of 2,500 museums online that you can peruse at your leisure — from your couch. Highlights include the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, New York City’s Guggenheim, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul and the Louvre. Spend some time perusing the Social Distancing Festival, which combines live streams of music, poetry, spoken word and art from around the world in one web calendar.


Muse has a guide to free meditation resources online. Meditation Minis by Chel Hamilton is a great option for those who can’t imagine trying to fit one other thing on their plate right now — each is only 10 minutes long. Tough time sleeping? Try this list of meditations for sleep.

Science and Nature

  • WildEarth Virtual Safaris broadcast live from Africa to your home; you can interact live with a game ranger in real time.
  • National Museum of Natural History Virtual Tours take you inside the legendary collection.
  • National Marine Sanctuaries Virtual Dives use 360-degree camera views to take you diving in some of the world’s most diverse marine sanctuaries.
  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium has 10 live cameras, including the jelly cam, the otter cam and the open sea cam.


Check out this list of fitness studios that are offering free live streaming classes online. It’s no secret that moving your body is important for mental and physical health — whether it’s a walk in the neighborhood or a bootcamp in your living room, with two cans of tuna as weights.

Ways to Stay in Touch

A Zoom happy hour does everyone good; pour a drink and sign on to keep in touch with loved ones from afar. Check out some beautiful downloadable Zoom backgrounds from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which include videos of their jellies and turtles. Other fun app options are House Party — which allows you to all play games together — or Marco Polo, an easy way to volley short video clips back and forth.

Kid Stuff

There is an ever-expanding list of distractions to do during quarantine for the millions of kids who are out of school. Our favorites thus far include Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems (live through the Kennedy Center every day at 1pm), the Cincinnati Zoo’s At-Home Safari (live on Facebook every day at 3pm), and Cosmic Kids Yoga to keep those little bodies moving.


Puzzles and board games are so hot right now. We love the ScrabbleGo app, or you can play classic Battleship with faraway friends over FaceTime. Pull those classic board games out of your basements — Monopoly, Sorry, Boggle or find out if it was Colonel Mustard with a candlestick in the library.

Cooking and Baking

From the amount of posts on social media about banana bread, it’s clear that baking is therapeutic for lots of people. Shortage of bread at the store? Even our most challenged kitchen users can make this recipe for bread.

Streaming Shows

Netflix Party provides another distraction during quarantine, allowing you to watch your favorite shows along with your friends and includes synchronized playback and group chat. Here’s our collective brain dump of our favorite shows to binge, and a few words about each of them:

  • Peaky Blinders (British/gangster/post-WWI)
  • Tiger King (reality/dumpster fire/animals)
  • Ozark (drama/crime/Americana)
  • Great British Baking Show (cooking/soothing accents/reality competition)
  • Master of None (comedy/cultural commentary/thought-provoking)
  • Dirty John (reality/scandal/crime)
  • Unorthodox (reality-based/subculture-focused/drama)
  • Arrested Development (off-beat humor/absurdist/comedy)
  • Narcos (reality-based/world history/crime)
  • The Crown (world history/reality-based/drama)
  • Our Planet (nature/documentary/escapism)

Gardening + Planting

What better way to fuel your newfound kitchen skills than with veggies grown in your garden? There are plenty of companies that sell seeds and starter plants to get you going, and your local garden center may offer contactless curbside pickup.


To avoid going into an exhaustive list here, we’ll recommend that you check out What Should I Read Next, which algorithmically bases recommendations on the last book you read and enjoyed.

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