Forget the lamb — March went in like a lion and out like a raging, toilet paper-hoarding chimera as the spread of the novel coronavirus reshaped life as we know it. In just the past month, we’ve seen offices, schools, and businesses shuttered; concerts, weddings, festivals, and major sporting events postponed; and sweeping stay-at-home orders enacted, turning major cities into veritable ghost towns. (Has it really only been a month? It feels like a few decades.)
Given these developments, it should come as no surprise that everyone’s starting to feel shaken up: In a new Pew Research Center survey published March 30, nearly nine out of ten U.S. adults say their personal life has changed at least a little because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 44 percent saying it’s changed the way they live “in a major way.”
In these increasingly dire times, a new “normal” has emerged — and with it comes new essentials for dealing with our ever-evolving reality. Whether you have the privilege to work from home, are dealing with childcare challenges, or are simply bored, there are a few things out there that can help make this time a bit better. And as a way to give back, we’ll be donating 100% of the affiliate commission earned here to NY Presbyterian and Feeding America.
Here’s what you need — and where to find it:
1. Streaming services
There’s been no better time to tackle your entire queue (or start that series you’ve been meaning to watch forever) than when you’re stuck at home social distancing. If you haven’t already, be sure to take advantage of popular streaming services’ free trials: CBS All Access recently extended its trial period from seven days to 60 when you use the codes GIFT and ENJOY at checkout, while Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, and Amazon Prime Video will all let you watch for free for 30 days (no codes required). Sling TV, meanwhile, is free for your first two weeks, and Disney , HBO Now, and Apple TV won’t charge you for your first week of watching.
While you’re at it, consider grabbing a media player or streaming stick — it’ll put all of your streaming content in one place for easy access. Best Buy has several Roku models in stock (starting at $29).
If you’re looking to upgrade your entire TV setup, you’ve got a few shopping options: Dell’s website features all sorts of deals on Vizio, LG, Sony, and Samsung 4K smart displays, many of which come with e-gift cards worth up to $250.
2. Work-from-home gear
If you’re fortunate enough to be working from home amid the spread of COVID-19, you’ll need a few things to stay productive.
We highly recommend getting a standing desk (like a FlexiSpot) or a well-made gaming chair with ample back support for the sake of your posture, as well as some quality blue-light-blocking glasses from Felix Gray or Warby Parker to combat digital eyestrain.
Finally, if you need a new laptop for your WFH setup, Best Buy had plenty of notebooks in stock the last time we checked (and many come with free security software). You might also consider buying a refurbished device to save a couple bucks — if so, you can find lots of good deals on ebay, where we recently saw a 13-inch, 256GB Apple MacBook Air on sale for $449.97. (For context, it originally retailed for $1,099.)
3. Teleconference services
C’mon and Zoom: With more people seeking ways to stay in touch (and celebrate milestones) with coworkers, friends, family, and former Victorious costars amid social distancing, the easy-to-use video conferencing platform saw a gigantic increase in its daily user numbers in March. Plans start at $14.99 for small teams and businesses, but if you’re just using it for personal calls up to 40 minutes long, it’s totally free to use. (FWIW, FaceTime is also an option so long as you’re an iOS user.)
4. Video games
Social distancing is turning a lot of people into gamers as we look for new ways to keep ourselves entertained at home. The Nintendo Switch is still sold out everywhere, unfortunately — everyone and their grandma wants to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons — but Xbox One and Playstation 4 consoles, bundles, and games remain aplenty at Best Buy. You can also download The Sims 4 to your computer for just $5 right now, so there’s that.
A special note for Xbox users: Don’t miss Microsoft’s ongoing sale on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate plans, which include Xbox Live Gold (for multiplayer gaming) and access to the Game Pass’s huge library of games — if you sign up ASAP, you’ll get your first month for just $1. Click here to learn more.
5. Online classes
Along those same lines, being forced to stay at home because of a global pandemic means we’ve got *plenty* of time on our hands to learn something new, whether for personal or professional development. Udemy, SkillShare, and Coursera are three great options for traditional online learning, whereas MasterClass features some fun celebrity-taught courses that might inspire you to pick up a new hobby. (Ever wanted to take cooking lessons from Gordon Ramsay? Now’s your chance.)
Health anxiety is a real bitch — but what if your therapist’s office is closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus? Luckily, you can always reach out for (virtual) help: Online mental health support from licensed professionals is available via apps like BetterHelp ($160 to $280 per week) and Talkspace ($260 to $396 per month), the latter of which now has a dedicated COVID-19 anxiety management program.
Swapping your dire Twitter feed for a mindfulness/meditation app can also work wonders for your stress levels in times like these. Give Calm or HeadSpace a download — both apps are currently offering free trials for new users. (And if you’re a U.S. healthcare professional who’s working in a public health setting, you can use Headspace Plus for free through 2020.)
7. Meal kit delivery services
Grocery stores are essential businesses, meaning they can stay open during stay-at-home orders, but proper social distancing means you should try to limit your errand runs as much as possible.
You can always have your groceries delivered by a service like Instacart, but if you don’t want to bother with insanely long delivery times (or cross picket lines), services like Blue Apron, Home Chef, Green Chef, Hungryroot, HelloFresh, and Purple Carrot are another convenient option for all of us hermits. (Psst — click here to find out how Mashable readers can get $30 off their first Purple Carrot box.)
8. Alcohol delivery services
Bars and some liquor stores may be closed for the foreseeable future, but all is not lost: Alcohol delivery services like Saucey, Drizly, WSJWine, Boxed, Maivino, and Winc are still up and running. Click here to find out how you can save on select orders.
9. Home workout equipment (and online workout classes)
Since most gyms are shuttered, too, and since laying on the couch all day is an invitation for crippling lower back pain, at-home workouts have become the move lately. If you’ve got the space for cardio equipment, you can save hundreds of dollars on a ProForm treadmill, a ProForm elliptical, or a NordicTrack exercise bike right now at Best Buy. Otherwise, services like Aaptiv, ClassPass, BodyBoss, and Crunch Live are all offering free trials or access to video and audio exercise content so you can stay in shape while stuck at home. (Click here to learn more.)
10. Sex toys
Take it from the City of New York itself: “ are your safest sex partner” right now.
Unsurprisingly, sex toy sales have skyrocketed amid the coronavirus outbreak — and brands are responding accordingly. As things currently stand, LELO, MysteryVibe, and Babeland are all running promotions on select toys, and Dame Products is donating 1% of its sales to the Food Bank for New York City. Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and tingly inside?
11. Comfy loungewear
Unless you’re putting on a business-casual top for a Zoom meeting with your boss, your social distancing dress code is likely all athleisure, all the time. (As it should be — anyone who puts on jeans to sit at home on the couch all day *cannot* be trusted.) If you need to add some new pieces to your rotation, take a gander at Champion, , , Calvin Klein, and American Eagle/aerie — they’re all having sales right now.
12. Nice kitchen gadgets and cookware
Whether we like it or not, social distancing has turned us all into home chefs. If some of the gear in your kitchen could use an upgrade now that they’re seeing regular use, be sure to check out Best Buy for deals on multicookers, coffee makers, blenders, waffle makers, air fryers, and other kitchen appliances. (Just don’t hold your breath for any bread makers — they’re sold out everywhere thanks to a recent rise in stress-baking.) You can also pop over to KitchenAid‘s website to save 25% on select stand mixers, or peruse Ninja‘s inventory and save $40 on certain gadgets by entering the code SPRING40 at checkout.
For quality cookware and bakeware, look no further than Best Buy and . (The latter’s website had Le Creuset and Staub products on sale for up to 40% off.)
For healthy doses of escapism and entertainment, now’s the time to tackle that reading list you so ambitiously made at the beginning of the year. Independent bookstores are hurting big time right now, so consider shopping local or through Bookshop if at all possible. (Some are offering free/extremely cheap shipping or curbside pickup on online purchases.) Otherwise, you can fill up an e-reader with titles from the Kindle Store or download audiobooks to your smartphone/tablet via Audible.
14. Live plants
If you can’t go outside, you might as well bring the outside in. You can liven up your quarantine den with 20% off select plants from Plants.com, or — if you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty — you can grow herbs and veggies on your kitchen countertop with an indoor garden from AeroGarden. Shop the brand’s website and apply the code FRESH20 during checkout to save 20% on select models and seed kits.
15. Pet supplies
When walks and jaunts to the dog park are limited and you’re all tied up in Zoom calls, times like these can be ruff on pets, too. To keep them physically and mentally active, consider signing up your furry family member for a monthly subscription box like BarkBox, Bullymake Box, meowbox, KitNipBox, , or Chewy’s Goody Box for a fresh supply of exciting toys and treats every couple of weeks. (Be sure to also check out Chewy’s website for daily deals on pet gear.)
16. Gift cards
What’s the best way to support bars, restaurants, cafés, salons, spas, theaters, gyms, and other establishments impacted by COVID-19, you might ask? Two words: gift cards. Even if you can’t redeem them right now, that immediate cash flow helps businesses stay afloat amid shutdowns. You don’t even have to buy them in person — digital gift certificates are readily available on Amazon, BestBuy.com, and GiftCards.com. (Pro tip: Send one to an essential worker in your life to show them some much-needed appreciation.)