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Why This Matters: It is spring break for many people across the country and the warming weather may make outdoor activities tempting, but unless we maintain our distances we won’t flatten the curve of exposure. The pictures of people flocking to beaches and bars are as heartbreaking as the images of the Broadway Shows and Las Vegas Strip shut down. But social distancing can be practiced in a way that allows for needed outdoor time that will keep us all sane even in areas with shelter in place orders.
Nature Can Help
There is growing strain being put on individuals’ mental health due to coronavirus fears. “Right now, people are feeling grief over the loss of routines, certainty, and a perception of themselves as being generally healthy and protected,” psychiatrist Joshua Morganstein, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters told the Washington Post. There is a lot of evidence to support the idea that just taking a short walk during the day (if possible while maintaining social distancing) can have major health benefits. But with “more than half the world’s population liv[ing] in urban settings… city dwellers have a 20% higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40% higher risk of mood disorders…” (according to Stanford) this can create a loss of connection to nature. Medical professionals recommend caution — only do outdoor activities with the people in your household and stay six feet away from neighbors or others in public areas. For example, New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver is encouraging residents to utilize the city’s nearly 2,000 parks, which are free.
For those that don’t want to risk exposure or risk exposing others, there is a way to bring nature into your home. Harvard reported that listening to nature sounds can help have a similar positive effect as going outside. Recordings of water sounds, bird songs, and more can be found on most streaming services and on YouTube. Another great way to bring the outdoors inside is to watch nature videos or documentaries. Like BBC Earth’s YouTube channel or Rancher Farmer Fisherman documentary. One hidden gem is also livestreams from parks and nature reserves! Places like Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary’s Crane Camera in Gibbon, Nebraska or the Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska are great ways to observe nature without ever having to leave your couch (Check out this Forbes article for more links to livestreams).
The Blue Ridge Parkway — first conceived in 1933 to connect Skyline Drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — is a feast for the eyes, designed by landscape architects specifically to showcase a variety of vistas and views. But preserving them requires conserving parcels along the boundaries of the Park, which, as This […]
Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Smoky Mountains National Parks closed on Tuesday due to coronavirus concerns, joining Yosemite National Park, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island because of concerns of crowding in public spaces leading to spread of the disease.
Why This Matters: As is true with so much of the Trump Administration’s attitude toward containing the spread of the virus, they have left each Park to decide on its own, causing confusion and sending mixed signals to the public and leaving local officials struggling to respond.