The best way to de-stress during this worrying time is to look for safe opportunities to get outside.
Last weekend we were walking a beautiful coastline and enjoying listening to the birds sing, the sea crash and discovering pieces of the landscape and contemplating how many years they had survived and adapted with nature. At the same time, thousands of coronavirus cases worldwide were newly confirmed, and not an insignificant number of people had died. All this happened in just a few hours.
But those few hours built up our immunity—not to the disease (We're as vulnerable as anyone) but to the stress of this new but long-foretold moment. For those few hours outside, we were breathing clean air and synthesising all the vitamin D that the limited sun breaking through the rain clouds could offer. We don’t want to sound glib in the face of a deadly pandemic.
We need to dramatically alter our lives to slow the spread of this virus so as not to overwhelm our health care system. We're on board with that. But even as we distance ourselves from society, we can take respite in the fact that the natural world—no matter how you define it—offers refuge from a disease that flourishes in the close confines of civilisation. If you’re 100 percent healthy and don’t live in a densely populated area, practice social distancing and wash your hands, you can seek safe ways to get outside. Throw a ball around in the garden with your children. Find a lonely park for a walk. Ride your bike—just not in an elbow-to-elbow peloton. People who live in more rural outdoorsy towns have even more options. The canals and forest trails are still open, so use them to walk or ride a bike. Just stay a few feet apart from others that you don't know, as you should anywhere else. You're not likely to see too many others out there. In many parts of the country, hiking trails are still uncrowded.
If you’re in a city or are actually self-isolating, then getting outside might not be safe if the streets and parks are full of people, but you can welcome some of the outside in. At the very least, pull back the curtains to let in the natural light. Have lunch next to an open window. One thing we probably shouldn’t be doing outside right now is vigorous athletic training, especially if we aren’t already extremely fit. While research has shown that exercise boosts our immune systems in the long run, a recent report suggests that a single intense workout might temporarily weaken the immune system. But even if you aren’t gassing yourself, a little exercise or simple downtime outdoors can certainly relieve stress.
“Our salvation, or at least peace of mind, may lie less in doing more, and more in doing less”.
As we find ourselves with those around us falling into "At Risk" groups, then the worry of this can be debilitating. It needn't be, with a sensible approach to reduce exposure and cross-contamination, then go outdoors, and enjoy the outdoors. We all know how liberating and euphoric the outdoor experience can be, so why not care for your mind, de-stress and enjoy the great outdoors, whilst taking a more careful approach. This approach may change as the virus spreads or as we learn more about it. But in the meantime, don't let the worry get you down, don't let social media cause you to become unfit inside and out, get outside and de-stress whilst enjoying Our Lives Outdoors.
We encourage everyone to maintain good personal, hand and respiratory hygiene and follow the NHS guidelines to reduce the risk of contracting any virus.