How to Spend Your Time When You’re Social Distancing in Chicago

If you’re feeling powerless (or bored) while social distancing and self-quarantining in Chicago, we hear you. These seven activities will help you support your city and stay busy while you lie low. Above all, follow Mayor Lightfoot’s lead and wash those hands.

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Milk Handmade

1. Shop Local (and Online)

Small businesses have been hit hard by social distancing, but you can still show support (and score some unique items) online. Near West Side favorites Gemini and Asrai Garden have robust e-commerce experiences, and Andersonville’s Milk Handmade has built up its online shop. BIDE Market is taking its next sustainable pop-up market (March 22) online with goods and speakers broadcast in a QVC-style format (shipping charges will be waived).

self quarantine chicago help in need
Alyssa Schukar for the Greater Chicago Food Depository

2. Help Those In Need

For many in Chicago, staying home or stocking the pantry simply isn’t an option. Help the homeless or those facing hunger by donating to the Greater Chicago Food Depository or Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. You can also support hourly restaurant workers via Stock Manufacturing’s Chicago Hospitality United fundraiser, and theater artists via Season of Concern. If you’re short on funds, call an elderly relative to see how they’re doing, or send a message to a friend who works in health care to let them know you’re thinking of them.

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3. Take A Literary Walking Tour

Visit your favorite neighborhoods without leaving home: Jessica Hopper’s Night Moves gives a nostalgic tour through early-aughts Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park. Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers witnesses the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Boystown. Sandra Cisneros’s classic The House on Mango Street presents a girl’s coming-of-age story in an unnamed Hispanic neighborhood (Cisneros lived in Humboldt Park as a girl). Order them online from local booksellers Unabridged Bookstore (which has reduced shipping costs to $1), City Lit Books or Madison Street Books.

4. Binge-watch Chicago’s Best

Another way to travel around while you’re lying low is to stream shows and movies set in the Windy City. The Chi and Shameless stream on Hulu, as does the slightly more wholesome Perfect Strangers. Meanwhile, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Netflix) lets you play hooky while you WFH, and My Best Friend’s Wedding (Hulu) and High Fidelity (Prime Video) take you back to the (sort of) simpler Y2K era.

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Jeff Marini

5. Dine Out From The Comfort Of Your Home

Frozen-food fatigue is a thing. Support Chicago’s restaurants by ordering for pickup or delivery. But before you open up Postmates, check Dining at a Distance. Built in response to the dine-in shutdown, it lists takeout, delivery and curbside pickup options and special promotions for local restaurants like Sushi-San and Smoque.

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Chicago Parks Foundation

6. Stroll Through Your Favorite Park

It’s still OK to take a nature bath in the Chicago Park District’s 8,800 acres of green space (at least as of press time). Just be sure to avoid gatherings of more than ten people and keep a distance of six feet from those you encounter. Not only will you witness the first daffodils blooming but the exercise can also help lessen anxiety and boost the immune system.

self quarantine chicago self care
Lena Rose

7. Up Your Self-care Routine

Manicures and facials are a no-go for now, but Jenny Duranski, owner of green beauty spa Lena Rose, has tips for doing them at home. Soak your feet in a bowl of warm water mixed with a cup of milk (it softens heels) and half a cup of Epsom salts, plus rosemary and a clove for aromatherapy benefits. At the same time, whip up a mask of skin-healing honey with a bit of cinnamon, which stimulates blood flow. If you think you have more important things to do, remember that stress can suppress your immune system. A little moment for yourself can go a long way.

amanda nyren

Writer, yogi, mom to about a dozen houseplants

A lifelong Chicago resident, Amanda started covering the local scene for PureWow in 2016. She's a freelance writer and content strategist.