If you find you’ve been mindlessly flipping television channels like pancakes lately, maybe it’s time to get off the couch. After all, there are only so many programs you can binge watch. Besides, experts agree that physical activity is good medicine for our mental health — and we can all use some of that right now.

Here are a four ways to get you moving in a positive direction:


If your yoga studio is closed for the foreseeable future and you haven’t been able to move past child’s pose at home, hop on your computer or smart television and check out these free online yoga classes. For those of you who aren’t (yet) yogis, now is a good time to try some beginner classes. Yoga increases body awareness, relieves stress and reduces muscle tension. Mentally, yoga sharpens attention and concentration and calms the nervous system. So, put on some yoga pants, move the coffee table aside and start your practice in one of these online classes:

Take a Hike

Tired of the scenery in your neighborhood? Take a hike! Fountain Hills has plenty of beautiful vistas just waiting for you to discover. Fresh air is medicinal, so lace up your hiking shoes, grab a water bottle and head outside. Most of the following sites have hiking trails for beginners. Just make sure you take notice of the difficulty level before you go.

Virtual Happy Hour

We aren’t gathering in our favorite Fountain Hills eateries right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t gather online. Organize a virtual happy hour with a few of your best friends to share a few laughs, just like you do each week. Here’s how:

  1. Pick a mutually agreeable day and time. Do you always meet on Tuesdays at your favorite brewery? Maybe your group likes to have Saturday brunch? Keep your routine as normal as possible by continuing to meet at the same time or make a new tradition and choose a new day/time. Remember, since this is a virtual happy hour, you can invite friends who live in other parts of the country to participate, too.
  2. Determine how you’ll meet. Although setting up the video portion of this activity might take some time and effort from everyone involved, it’s worth it. Seeing the facial expressions of our favorite people along with hearing their voices can lift the spirits and give us hope. FaceTime (iOS) now has a group call feature. For those with Androids, try using Google Hangouts.  If someone in your group doesn’t have a smartphone, see if you can video chat via Zoom or Skype.
  3. Find an activity to do together. Maybe you keep it simple and just commit to sipping a glass of wine while you chat. Or, consider playing an online game like Mahjong, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit or Cards Against Humanity. Although maintaining your social connections is the main goal, this is a great time to think outside the box. Who knows? You might just find a new favorite activity for your group to enjoy in the future.
  4. Order take out from a local restaurant. If you regularly gather at a local restaurant which is still offering delivery or take out service, consider placing an order as part of the happy hour fun. That small act pays big dividends. Not only does it lend a sense of normalcy to your get-together, it also benefits the local establishment from which you all order.

If you plan a virtual happy hour, be sure to take photos and tag @FountainHillsLive when you upload them to your Facebook or Instagram pages.

Learn something new

Did you know you can actually be bored to death? Participants in a research study who reported high levels of boredom were twice as likely to die from heart disease. Here’s the good news… not only can learning a new skill help you live longer, it stimulates production of the chemical dopamine (the feel good chemical in our brains) and causes the brain to build new connections between neurons which enhances memory and mood regulation. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Learn a new language. Here’s your chance to go back to school — virtually and for free. Thanks to the Maricopa County Library, you can learn any number of skills through their eMedia center. Don’t have a library card? No worries. You can register for a temporary digital card to access online resources while the library is closed.
  • Clean out your closets. You might find some family heirlooms that need to be preserved or passed down to the appropriate family member. At the very least, gather your gently used, unwanted treasures and donate them to local entities which will sell or re-purpose them for those in need. Not only will you be making the world a better place, mental health experts say simple acts of charity like this increase happiness and self-esteem and decrease stress and anxiety.
  • Finish an unfinished project. Think about this… the holidays are only nine months away! With the free time you have right now, you could be finishing projects you didn’t complete last year OR getting a good head start on new ones for this year.
  • Teach the kids basic living skills. This might be hard to believe right now, but one day your kids will be self-sufficient adults who no longer live at home. What do they need to learn in order to be successful? If you haven’t already, now is a good time to involve them in age-appropriate meal preparation, laundry and cleaning duties, and household budgeting exercises.