How to enjoy time outdoors in the new normal
The benefits of spending time outdoors are vast. But with many of the usual outdoor activities off-limits these days, it’s time to get creative about how you do it. The good news is you can still do plenty of fun things outside while staying safe. So put on the sunscreen, spray on the deet free bug spray and get out there.
Benefits of nature
With all the technology today, like streaming services, video games and apps, it’s easy to find yourself spending all your time inside. But science shows getting outside and into nature can benefit you in many ways.
- Reduces stress and improves mood. Research has shown forest bathing, made famous in Japan, can reduce stress, improve your mood and increase energy.
- Enhanced creativity. A study from the University of Kansas found that more time in nature and less screen time increased creativity and problem-solving abilities.
- Better vision. Spending time outside improved eyesight in school-age children in a recent study from Australia.
- Vitamin D. Many Americans don't get enough vitamin D. It’s hard to get from your diet, so the sun is the best source. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and phosphorus, and its deficiency has been linked to poor health.
Spend time outdoors safely
You know it’s in your best interest to get outdoors, but you may be wondering how you can do it safely.
- Social distancing and masks. Even outside, you need to follow the experts' guidelines for social distancing and wearing cloth face coverings when you'll be near others.
- Wear sunscreen. Protect yourself from damaging rays with a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
- Avoid outdoor pests with bug repellent. If you’re nervous about the chemicals in many bug sprays, you can choose a plant-based, deet free alternative such as Buzz Away Extreme.
10 fun ideas for the outdoors
- Walking. Getting outside and enjoying the benefits of nature can be as simple as taking a stroll through your neighborhood. If you have kids, keep their interest by making it fun. Create a scavenger hunt and have them search for items they can check off your list.
- Outdoor exercise. You may not be able to get to the gym, but you can still get plenty of exercise. Biking, running and rollerblading are some ideas to get you moving. Meeting friends for a run can be a low-risk way to socialize. Runner's World recommends checking to see if cases are low in your area and following social distancing guidelines.
- Hiking. If you need a break from your usual neighborhood walk, find a nearby trail and take a hike. Many parks and trails that were formerly closed have now opened up to the public. And don't forget sunscreen and deet free bug spray.
- Drive-in movies. With movie theaters closed across the nation, drive-in movies are making a comeback. Enjoy some nostalgia and load up the car for a fun treat. Make popcorn at home for a healthier and cheaper option than movie popcorn and sodas. And remember those blankets and pillows to make your car cozy.
- Picnics. You can find a nearby park or even lay a blanket under a tree in your backyard. Pack a picnic lunch or, if you need a break from the kitchen, pick up take-out to enjoy at your favorite park.
- Dinner al fresco. Bring your usual dinner out to your patio or deck and enjoy the outdoors. Sometimes, a simple thing like changing where you eat your dinner can feel like a novelty. Try candles and LED fairy lights to make your backyard into a French bistro.
- Meet for coffee outside. Your local coffee shop may be closed to in-person dining or you may be uncomfortable with the idea of socializing inside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy coffee with friends. Pick up a coffee to go or bring one from home and meet a friend at a park or in one of your backyards.
- Light up the fire pit. If you don’t have a fire pit, you can buy one from home improvement stores. They can bring cozy camping vibes to your backyard. Kids love to roast marshmallows and make smores, and adults will love relaxing with a drink around the crackling fire.
- Yoga in the park. You may not want to attend your usual indoor yoga class, but many health clubs and organizations have responded with outdoor classes. Yoga reduces stress and anxiety. Combining that with nature is an excellent way to feel great.
- Attend farmer’s markets. Outdoor farmer’s markets are a great way to get locally grown, fresh produce without having to go indoors to a grocery store. Have some fun cooking and find recipes for the in-season fruit and vegetables at your local market.
Don’t let this summer get you down. You can make the best of a difficult situation and keep your energy levels up when you spend time outside. Bring your sunscreen and deet free bug spray, and remember to stay safe. Keep yourself feeling good by reconnecting with nature.