Disclaimer: The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving. While we always encourage people to get outside to enjoy nature as a part of an overall healthy, mindful lifestyle, it is important that you follow the latest guidelines from the CDC and your state health department. The safety and health of you and your family and society at large are paramount. And of course, if you’ve been ordered to quarantine yourself or otherwise need to stay inside, please follow the advice of your doctors and other officials.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered life as we know it. Restaurants and other businesses are closing down and/or reducing hours. Many offices and workplaces are shut down in favor of remote work. Gatherings of even moderate amounts of people are discouraged, or outright banned in some places. Schools and daycares across the country have also closed, in many case seeing children and parents stuck at home together without much to do in terms of activities out in the community.
To be clear, these are all important measures that local, state and federal governments are taking to help slow the spread of the disease and save lives. As we mentioned in the disclaimer, please follow all guidelines as they are announced and do everything you can to keep you, your loved ones, your neighbors, and everyone else safe and well during this crisis (and always).
Despite all the closures and shut downs happening, there is one thing that currently remains open and available for people to enjoy: the outdoors. Below are three ways you can still get out to recreate and enjoy the outdoors (while still following guidelines like social distancing):
- Head to your nearest state park, nature center, or environmental learning center (check beforehand to make sure they are open to the public). The National Park Service has waived entrance fees during the coronavirus outbreak. State parks offer many ways to enjoy the outdoors with thousands of acres of land and miles of trails for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and other outdoor activities. As we approach spring and the weather gets warmer, going for a run or a hike at a state park is a great way to get in some time with nature without having to pay the normal entrance fee.
Here at Eagle Bluff, we’ve got nine miles of trails that are available to the public 24/7, dawn till dusk. Our visitor’s center, offices, and other campus buildings are currently closed to the public, but our trails are open and offer great opportunities for bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, and more. Our overlooks offer incredible views and our campus offers many acres of beautiful wilderness for you to enjoy at no cost.
- Get out and take advantage of nature opportunities available within your community.
As long as you follow social distancing guidelines and stay away from crowds (and continue to wash your hands before and after handling any outdoor gear or equipment), any of the activities you’d normally enjoy outside in your own community should still be suitable now. If your neighborhood has public art, like murals or other installations, now would be a great time to take a walking tour and get a double-dose of refreshment with art and nature!
- If you are working from home, take a quick break whenever you can to step outside and breathe in some fresh air.
Taking regular breaks and setting aside time to stretch, move, and get some fresh air are important in general for those who work from home. But as more and more people work from home due to the COVID-19 situation, the added stress and uncertainty of the current moment make it all the more important to keep yourself grounded and take steps to reduce as much stress and anxiety as you can. Even simply spending 15 minutes soaking up some sun and fresh air in your backyard between meetings can be a great way to recharge and get a nice boost of energy.
And, in case you are self-quarantined or stuck inside for any other reason – watching a nature documentary (think Planet Earth) is a solid last-resort option. While we would never normally recommend watching TV in place of experiencing nature firsthand, research has shown that nature is so good for you that even watching it on TV has favorable effects on people.
In these uncertain times, it’s important to do whatever you can, within your current circumstances and capabilities, to get in quality nature time to feel its powerful positive effects as much as you can.