Spending time outdoors is associated with good health and well-being. Study shows that at least 120 minutes per week in nature is already enough for people to reap the benefits of spending time outdoors, including reduced stress levels, better moods, and increased physical activity. However, with the pandemic pushing people into isolation to protect themselves and others, many are not getting nearly enough exposure to nature, if they are getting any at all.
Staying at home is one of the best ways to avoid COVID-19. However, this also means people are spending less time outdoors, which is a drastic change in their daily routines and is a major factor in pandemic-related stress. Nevertheless, there are still a few ways to get out of the house more often–but without risking exposure to the virus.
1. Turn your backyard into a haven
The backyard is the safest place to bask in the sun and breathe fresh air. It is also the most accessible since you don’t have to leave your house. That said, turning your backyard into the perfect outdoor haven is one of the best ways to spend more time in nature.
If your backyard is currently looking far from the word ‘haven’, give it a makeover by doing these activities:
- Clear clutter and unnecessary furniture
- Give your lawn a fresh cut
- Mulch, weed, aerate, and fertilize if necessary
- Trim hedges and trees
- Hang fairy lights to improve the atmosphere
- Clean and re-stain your deck, if you have one
- Increase shade with awnings, umbrellas, or a gazebo
- Plant more greenery
2. Find a safe establishment for regular hang-outs
When you can’t handle staying indoors anymore, finding another place to hang out may be a good option, as long as you are mindful of your safety. Find an establishment that has ample outdoor seating and adequate anti-COVID safety protocols. Sitting outdoors with a cup of coffee, especially in an establishment that spruces up their outdoor space with regular commercial landscaping, may be just what you need to avoid cabin fever.
3. Open windows
Natural light can help reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression, which may all be at high levels due to the pandemic. Open your window coverings to let more natural light into your home. Maybe crack open the windows when the weather is nice to introduce more fresh air into your space. Even if you don’t go outside, this trick can still make you feel more connected to the outdoors.
4. Take walks or runs
Regular walks or runs throughout the week can help you get the nature time that you need with the added benefit of increasing your physical activity. If you’re not getting enough exercise while staying at home, then this tip will help you hit two birds with one stone. Just don’t forget to wear an appropriate face covering and stay at least six feet away from people. But if you can walk or jog in a relatively isolated path, that’s much better.
5. Go to recreational outdoor spaces
Unless they are closed, pay a visit to bike trails, parks, hiking paths, and athletic fields–but do stay away from crowds and avoid touching gates, public equipment, fences, water fountains, and other public structures or items. Do not gather in large groups. If you want to play sports, choose the ones that don’t require close physical contact and passing a ball to each other.
Better yet, go to recreational outdoor spaces by yourself or with people living in the same household. While it may be tempting to meet other loved ones in these places, you may be putting yourself and them at risk by making contact.
6. Plant a garden
Planting a garden in your backyard is a more productive way to spend time outdoors. It is also highly therapeutic and can help ease a lot of negative feelings brought about by isolation. Even if you are not a green thumb, try your hand at planting a small garden with low-maintenance plants. With a basic knowledge of plant care and a little bit of research on the particular species you plant, you should be able to make your garden flourish.
7. Take virtual tours
If you live in a highly urbanized area with no easy access to natural spaces, try taking virtual tours of parks or play nature sounds to help you feel like you’re in the outdoors. If you have a balcony or access to a rooftop, going there is also a great way to get some fresh air.
Cabin fever is a very common problem among many of us who can’t spend time outdoors regularly. With these tips, however, you can keep yourself connected with nature without putting your health–and those of others–at risk.