“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson
As communities increasingly practice social distancing and restaurants, bars, recreation facilities, and other businesses temporarily close, we’re reminded that nature can be a source of peace in the days ahead. We can find joy in the forests, trails, backyards, trees, gardens, streams, and other natural areas we love.
Being outside can be restorative. It can provide some respite from stressful, busy lives, and for many of us, the outdoors is simply where we’d rather be. So, during this tough time, it’s only natural to want to head outside. And for those who are able, we encourage you to do so.
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.
In one study, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Other studies by Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality.
While we want you to get outside and soak up the benefits of the great outdoors, here are some suggestions for practicing social distancing to help stem the spread of Covid-19:
- Stay local as much as possible to avoid spreading the virus any further
- Maintain at least a six-foot distance from others
- Maintain excellent hygiene especially while traveling to and from the outdoors
- Make sure to take proper precautions by packing all necessary safety equipment and letting someone know where you are going, what your plans are, and when they should expect you back (and don’t forget to tell them when you do get back!).
Some ways to enjoy nature from the comfort of your home:
- Our friends at the National Wildlife Federation have made their Ranger Rick Magazine free online through June
- PBS has complied these free documentaries that highlighting stunning vistas all over the world
- Did you know you can contribute to wildlife research as a community scientist, without having to leave your home? Check out some of the nature projectsyou can assist with on Zooniverse, an online platform for volunteer-powered research that anyone can participate in!
- Check out these virtual tours of some North Carolina State Parks
- “iNatting” is a great solo or family activity that can be done in your backyard or out on the trails while you are#socialdistancing. iNaturalist even has an app just for kids with built in challenges, rewards, and activities called Seek: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app
However you might be finding ways to explore the great outdoors, we hope you still get the chance to enjoy your love for the wildlife and wild places while staying safe and healthy.
Catch up with us in the days ahead as we share ways you (and the kiddos) can get outside, explore nature, and enjoy the fresh air. When you head out, be sure to tag us at @threeriverslandtrust.org, and use the hashtag #dailydoseofnature to share your adventures with us.
The Team at Three Rivers Land Trust