Autumn has finally arrived, and with the trees shedding leaves to welcome winter it is the season to get cuddled up in your bed with a good book and some hot chocolate, to step out and watch the beautiful hues the evening sky presents us with and to take long walks. But while social distancing rules remain in place, you can’t plan your summer beach getaway just yet.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy time outdoors. Doing so can rejuvenate your spirit and restore your sense of connection with the world outside your door. Here are six ideas for how you can reap the benefits of connecting with nature and breathing fresh air—even if you thought social distancing would keep you cooped up.
1. ENHANCE YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE
If you have a backyard, now is the ideal time to freshen up your deck, add features to your yard, or install a new area—like an outdoor kitchen. You could also enhance a smaller space. Transform a tiny balcony into an open-air yoga studio or a craft area. Consider the following creative ideas as you plot your alfresco renovations, even if you don’t have the funds to be fancy:
- Build a custom fire pit
- String up a hammock
2. GET YOUR BODY MOVING OUTSIDE
Regular workouts reduce your risk of various diseases, bring your stress levels down, and boost your mood. They improve your digestion and help you sleep better, which can be a challenge when you’re spending so much time indoors. Exercise could also help you look younger longer, as fitness influences your DNA and holds off the aging process. Plus, the change of scenery alone is enough to give you a brighter outlook.
Take a walk around the block, stretch in your backyard, or do calisthenics on your deck or porch. Either way, the movement outdoors will improve your mood, boost your physical health, and keep you energized.
3. START—OR ADD TO—A GARDEN
If you haven’t exactly perfected your green thumb, why not use this time to try your hand at growing something? You don’t have to spend much at all to get a garden going. You can learn how to save the seeds from your organic produce to regrow seedlings — no trip to the nursery is necessary. You can also build a small compost bin and reduce food waste by recycling vegetable scraps to use as organic fertilizer.
Don’t despair if you only have a porch or balcony. You can plant container tomatoes, or string some hanging foliage along the roof. Herbs grow well in hanging baskets, and you can snip off a leaf or sprig to add rich flavor to your cooking.
4. TAKE A HIKE IN NATURE
Due to the pandemic, many popular outdoor tourist destinations remain closed. However, if you have a nature preserve, park, or other wild areas near you, get out and take a hike.
In many cultures around the world, spending time in nature is regarded as a kind of therapy — and there’s a reason. Being outdoors for even a bit helps reduce stress and depression. Researchers have identified an association between connecting with nature and improved mental health, so why not take advantage?