How many times have you said, “I’d love to learn (fill in the blank), if only I had the time?” Unless you’re working in healthcare or an essential occupation…well, you’re probably still really busy caring for younger or older family members or friends, which is essential too. But at least you’re saving on commuting time, and there have never been more opportunities to learn something new, remotely. Ready to channel your inner Lady Gaga or Giada De Laurentis? Here, 5 things to learn now…

Beat this: Not only does playing a musical instrument reduce stress and depression, it increases long-term memory and reaction times, which slow as we get older. In fact, there is evidence that the benefits of playing music help your brain more than any other activity. It may even boost your immune system. Borrow an instrument or pick up a new or used one online. YouTube is full of tutorials. And Fender Guitars is currently offering three free months of its popular Fender Play series for acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass or ukelele. After that it’s $9.99 per month. Choose your style (rock, blues, folk, country or pop), hit start and learn at your own pace. Soon you’ll be ready to start a garage band with your neighbors. Just make sure you’re each playing in your own garage. 

Parlez vous ______? My friend Christine is so hooked on Duolingo’s free online courses, she started learning French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian simultaneously, long before COVID-19. Now she has even more time to practice. Christine grabs her morning espresso and spends an hour (15 minutes on each) immersed in another culture before jumping into her remote work as an attorney. She’s logged over 1000 days straight. If you try it, get a few friends to sign up too, and soon you’ll be able to host weekly virtual “practice sessions” where you drink champagne and converse only in French. 

Get your code on: If foreign language isn’t your thing, how about picking up a new computer language? All the cool kids are doing it. In the time it takes to see who’s judging each other’s quarantine ranking on NextDoor, you could be creating your first webpage, greeting card, or animation with Khan Academy’s “Hour of Code.” I hope the self-quarantine won’t last this long, but Harvard’s Introduction to Computer Science is a free quarter-length course (covering C, Python, SQL, and JavaScript plus CSS and HTML) that you can complete at your own pace. Take a deep dive into one of the above and you might even find yourself more employable after the quarantine. On the other hand, if you prefer to kick it old school or if you really just loved Parasite, there’s always morse code.

You’re spending all of your time in the kitchen anyway: There’s no greater gift you could give the people you’re sheltering in place with. KITCHN cooking school’s free 20-day video series starts with the basics, like how to handle a knife (safety first) and culminates with “How to Be a Cook Who Can Throw Fun, Fearless Dinner Parties.” Looking ahead, what better way will there be to celebrate the end of social distancing? Okay, going to Sugar Fish will be better, but there’s going to be a really long line. In between lessons 1 and 20, there’s something for everyone. Isolating with picky eaters? “Day 3: How to Be a Cook Who Can Make Any Vegetable Fun to Eat” is a game changer. Craving excitement? Try “Day 11: How to Be a Cook Who Makes Fish Thrilling.” Ready to spice things up? After “Day 14: How to Be a Cook Who Can Work Magic With Whipped Cream,” you might not even want to leave the house.

The art of sheltering in place: The curse of generation GXB+? We have troves of physical AND digital photos to procrastinate about arranging and color correcting. Never fear. Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator offer 7-day free trials and step-by-step tutorials, as well as projects, for beginners and experts alike. Create a logo for that business you’ve been dreaming about starting. Or learn how to crop, retouch and add fun graphics to your favorite photos. You’ll be creating your own coronavirus memes in no time. 

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