Practicing social distancing and self-isolation does not mean you have to be stuck inside all day. The best way to avoid cabin fever during this trying time is by enjoying Mother Nature. With over 196 million U.S. residents now under orders to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many people are left wondering if going outdoors at all is okay. Even the strictest stay-at-home orders have exceptions for engaging in outdoor activities as long as you are not in close contact with other people.
Why Go Outside?
There are countless benefits of going outside, social distancing has not changed those. Being outdoors is proven to improve short-term memory, relieve stress (which is something we all can benefit from right now!), and even boost your immune system which is especially needed with the coronavirus pandemic going on. If you are suffering from any level of anxiety, depression, or other mental health strains or issues, they can be eased by spending some time outside.
Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors:
- Take a Walk. Going outside doesn’t always have to be a grand adventure, it can be as simple as taking a stroll with your family or walking your dog. Walking is a great exercise that you can safely do outdoors, just be sure to stay 6 feet away from those outside your household. This is a proven way to boost your mood and give you a feeling of social connection during this time when it is difficult to maintain.
- Run with a family member or friend. You can be outdoors and enjoy the company of a friend while exercising, just be sure to maintain a distance of 6 feet apart. Take your run in a space where staying 6 feet apart is easily achievable. Running increases mood and decreases stress. It is also a great way to ensure fitness and comes with life-long benefits.
- Enjoy a BBQ. Just because you can’t invite your friends over doesn’t mean the whole family can’t enjoy a fun meal outside. Having a barbecue extends the living space of your home, letting the family get some much needed fresh air. It is also a great way to relax and have a change of pace from the stressors that accompany everyday life.
- Open the Windows. If you or someone in your household is sick, or if you don’t want to go outside, opening the windows is a great way to let in some fresh air and get your daily dose of Vitamin D. Sunshine triggers the body’s production of vitamin D which is essential for overall health. Though you may not be able to go outside, you don’t have to deprive yourself of fresh air and sunlight.
- Go Bird Watching. With spring warming the weather and putting plant-life in bloom, birds are making their way back to build their nests. You can set up some bird-feeders in your yard or get a field guide to read about what birds are in your area and where the best place is to find them. This is a great opportunity to appreciate the beauty of nature and educate the whole family on local wildlife.
- Plant a Garden. Research and find what plants grow best in your area. A garden can be anything you want it to be, consisting of vegetables, herbs, or flowers. A fun way to involve the whole family is to have everyone pick out their favorite plant and then teach them how to properly plant it and care for it.
- Go Fishing. Fishing is known to many people as a safe haven from the challenges of the world, so what better time to go fishing than now! Check your local government regulations and see what fishing availabilities there are and what you need to do to prepare. This is also a great way to make a healthy dinner.
- Play. Go out in your yard with the family and just have fun. Social distancing is giving most people more time to spend with their families, take advantage of it! Play tag, blow bubbles, draw up hopscotch. The possibilities are endless!
Being outside does not mean the local government and official health guidelines no longer apply. It is important to avoid areas that may be overcrowded and if you happen to encounter another person, maintain the appropriate distance of 6ft. Be aware of closures in your area, and stay close to home if you can. Lastly, limit your touchpoints, carry hand sanitizer with you, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands as soon as you get back inside.