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COVID-19: To Beat the Malaise, Spend Time In Nature

COVID-19 has many of us feeling cooped up. As a kid, my parents kicked me out of the house every Saturday and Sunday morning. And most evenings, too. The line was always the same:

“Go get some fresh air!”

This upcoming March 17th, 2021 will mark the 1-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 lock-down in Canada. It’s been a year of staying home, social distancing, and wearing masks. We’re all tired of this. Fresh air has become quite the commodity.

In Canada, the best solution is to go out into nature. If you’re lucky enough to have a boat of your own, nothing will get your mind off of the pandemic faster than getting out on the water.

Or as my parents would say:

“Go get some fresh air!”

But even if you don’t have a boat, there’s no reason not to head outside.

Manitoulin Island, where people know how to beat the COVID-19 malaise.

Bridal Veil Falls, Manitoulin Island. Credit: t.wurdemann

Escape the Pandemic: Benefits of Spending Time With Nature

The science on this is solid. Spending time with nature, by walking in the forest or going boating, is healthy for you. Even putting aside the benefits of physical movement and exercise, merely getting fresh air is known to:

It’s almost as if nature is trying to provide us with a custom solution for COVID-19 malaise. Studies have shown that the pandemic has impacted people well beyond the direct medical effects of the virus. Over the past year, people have been reporting:

  • Worse sleep quality
  • More stress
  • Higher blood pressure
  • More discontentment and instances of depression
  • Decreased ability to focus
  • Great reliance on pharmaceutical medicines

While there is no catch-all solution to all of this, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more sustainably effective in treating COVID-19 malaise than simply getting outside.

“Go get some fresh air!”

How to Spend Your Time In Nature

For most of Canada, if you want to get into nature, pick a direction and start walking. We’re surrounded, and COVID-19 doesn’t fair well in wide open spaces.

  1. Go for a walk. (Or snowshoe. Or cross-country ski.)
  2. Get out on the water. (We can help.)
  3. Bring a camera. One of the best ways to appreciate nature is to start paying attention to which parts of it are photo-worthy. (Hint: It’s all of it. It’s all photo worthy.)
  4. Set a goal. If you’re not accustomed to venturing out into nature, you might struggle to feel motivated. So pick a goal, such as walking 5 km or reaching a certain destination or trying a new activity.
  5. Forget your goals! The best times in nature are when you lose yourself in the experience. Getting “into the zone” like this is a great way to forget about the pandemic.
  6. Pack a picnic. Every trip into nature is instantly gifted with a destination if you bring a picnic. (The destination is wherever you plan on picnicking.)
  7. Spend the night. Bring a tent and a sleeping bag.
  8. Plant a garden. Whether it’s on your patio, a dedicated window sill, or in your yard, getting your hands in the dirt is a great way to reconnect with nature without leaving home.
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