Get Outdoors & De-Stress with Mother Nature

 

By Amy Lignor

Yes, the pandemic came upon us and threw us all for a loop. Panic began; fear occurred, yet Mother Nature is still running, and it is most definitely time to get back outside. With fall almost upon us, the colors of the leaves, the cooler air, and the vibrant surroundings will have hikers, backpackers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts galore rushing out their doors in order to shake off the bad stuff and have a good time once again.

America has some of, if not the, most excellent state and national parks to be found worldwide. All you need are a few items to bring along in your pocket or your backpack to stay safe and get that breath of fresh air that you’ve been missing. Grab the sunscreen, hand sanitizer, mask, sunglasses, and top it off with a fabulous hat that provides extra protection from the sun and rain, and walk out the door.

 

Even your doctor will say that it’s more important than ever to go outside right now and soak in Mother Nature’s gifts—just to improve your mental health, alone. With this pandemic still forcing most to live by the rules and even scaring many by making them believe that they will be stuck inside for the foreseeable future, heading out to a local or state park to hike, bike or stroll will help you stay active, healthy, and allow you to soak up necessary Vitamin D that the sun can provide better than any pill. It rejuvenates the soul when we can have a little recreation in light of this crisis, and our national and state parks are finally starting to get back in order and have begun receiving long-overdue attention from the folks who usually frequent them all year long.

 

At last count, 62 parks are currently in different phases of reopening, and if you check https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/national-parks-reopening-covid-19-updates you’ll find a great list being kept that shows what each park is offering on a daily basis and when the best time is to enjoy them.

 

Although you should still continue to observe the principles of social distancing on your hike, walk or ride, there are quieter, less crowded spots all across the country that you can explore and not have to worry about your safety.

 

If you want to plan a great adventure in the forest or head to a state park and camp, here are some general principles to help you feel even better about dusting yourself off and having fun in the outside world. Choosing to camp or hike with people in your household is far safer. You can keep at least 6 feet away from others on their own camping excursions, on the trails, and in other parks, as well as avoiding sharing camping supplies with others. Bring along the hand soap and supplies to clean and disinfect those commonly-touched surfaces, and make sure to maintain good hygiene at all times.

 

It is beneficial to turn your focus on the national, state, and local park areas closest to your home. And the status of those particular areas will be posted on the NPS website or state park individual websites.

 

Staying physically healthy is the most important thing. But giving up the outside world isn’t the way to do it. Your mental health is also truly important, so get out there and take a breath of fresh air. Every one of us needs to de-stress during these times, and being outdoors is just the ticket to feeling better.

 

For information on any and all closings, alerts, trail openings, and more, see https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm.

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