Connected_to_Nature

By Jayce Lambert

There’s no way around it: Life in today’s COVID-19 world is different from what we once called “normal.” You have to carry hand sanitizer, wear facial coverings, and stay at least 6 feet away from other people. Staying healthy during the pandemic has its challenges, and that closed-in feeling can be an adjustment. Connecting to nature, even on those days when you cannot — or should not — go outside, helps keep your spirits high and your mental health in check.

Virtual Experiences

They’re not quite the same, but virtual experiences and a good imagination can take you to your happy place, even when you can’t step out the door. Beach waves, forest and swamp sounds, roller coaster rides, boating, and fishing are at your fingertips with a click of the mouse. Turn on a fan, lay down, close your eyes and listen to ocean waves through your Alexa or Google AI app. Videos and nature shows are on TV and the internet. PBS has aired an innovative feature on its “Nature” show: Spy in the Wild deploys cameras disguised as animals, which show animals in their natural habitat. Get up close to an elephant during mating season.

Bring the Outdoors Inside

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Greenery and brightly colored blooms light up the inside of your home. Spider plants, aloe vera, snake plants, English ivy, and peace lilies all absorb toxins from the air. The large floppy leaves of a money tree plant are visually stunning.  Flowers, grasses, and herbs bring the outdoors inside.

Set out bowls of mulch, bark chips, pine cones, and nuts. A garden wall is also a good distraction. You can make one from wooden slats, panels, and just about anything else you can attach to an inside wall near a sunny window.  Hydroponic Garden

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Hydroponic gardens use liquid or aggregate mediums to grow herbs, veggies, flowers, and fruits. Hydroponic systems are available in sizes small enough for tabletops and large enough for a corner of your living room. Fast-growing tomatoes, peppers, and leafy greens emit wonderful scents and give you fresh produce without having to run to the store. Snap a photo every couple of days to track their progress.

Wildlife

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Birds, butterflies, bunnies, and bees are all waiting in the backyard.  Set up a few bird feeders, houses, and baths to welcome feathered visitors.  Native trees and flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects.  On a nice sunny day, sit in the backyard or by the window and enjoy the scenery.  When it’s cold out, open the curtains to enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer. (If you have any indoor cats at home, they’ll likely know where all the good viewing spots are).

In the backyard, set up some lawn chairs … in your own treehouse! They’re not just for kids anymore. Build a deck or house around a large canopy tree. Filtered sunshine, rustling leaves, gentle breezes, and twittering birds will help you relax.

Staying inside to lessen the possibility of attracting or spreading the coronavirus doesn’t mean you can’t go outdoors. It just means you should stay in your circle and away from other people. You can take a walk around the neighborhood (but stay 6 feet away from your neighbors). Enjoy spring and summer blooms. Listen to the birds sing. Pick up some pebbles, pinecones, and twigs. Take a selfie with a happy-looking tree. Breathe fresh air and feel the sunshine on your face. And don’t forget to bring the hand sanitizer and face mask.  

Jayce Lambert is a graduate student in Texas who loves traveling, camping, hiking and cycling. Her love of the outdoors is apparent in apartment, which she adorns with hanging plants and ferns.