Spending time in nature

By Lisa Tolentino

Have you started to put on weight because you’re snacking too much, or simply stress eating over COVID-19? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s totally understandable, even to be expected. Thankfully, you can do something about it before things get out of control.

For many, our emotions and collective anxiety have begun to tamper down as we begin to get used to the physical distancing and stay-at-home guidelines recently put in place. As we start to develop more routines and regular activities, we can turn our attention to our ongoing and overall wellbeing – creating a balance between our physical, mental and emotional health.

For instance, we have been hearing a lot lately about focusing on what we can control as opposed to what we cannot. Therefore, we might want to avoid impulsive behaviours such as emotional or stress eating by developing a plan for dealing with feelings of being overwhelmed or distressed.

Such a plan can look different for each of us depending on how we cope with various conditions. Some of us might draw on positive coping behaviours that have worked for us in the past (such as having a large glass of water or going for a walk whenever we have an unhealthy craving). We may just have to adapt to our present situation (such as working from home and/or spending every day of the week with our kids). Others will have to develop new strategies. These may be things that we’ve never tried before, or that we’ve attempted in the past but didn’t work. We have an opportunity now to consider trying these things for the first or another time. They might work under these altered circumstances.

Whatever your situation, keep an open mind about developing your plan and strategies, and use whatever works for you. Remember to be realistic and kind to yourself – only pushing as much as your mind, body and spirit can take right now.

Get some Vitamin N

There is lots of research that has shown the role that the natural world plays on the physical, mental and emotional health of human beings.

Richard Louv is the author of several books that tout the benefits of Vitamin “N” (N = nature). Drawing on his own research, as well as that of scientists and great thinkers throughout history, he illustrates that individuals and groups that spend more time in nature receive incredible physical, psychological and spiritual benefits. They are happier, less anxious, have stronger immune systems, better ability to cope with difficult circumstances, increased social skills, and are more physically fit.

Getting outside reduces obesity and depression, boosts creativity and allows us to have fun. It’s hard to be sad, mad or stressed when we’re outside in nature, as it calms our nerves, opens our hearts and allows us to get exercise at the same time.

Plus, studies show that viruses are more difficult to transmit outdoors than outdoors.

I think Vitamin “N” is the perfect prescription for us to deal with the world right now. In the Haliburton Highlands, we are infinitely blessed to be surrounded by nature. So, rather than screen time and snacking, get outside more (either by yourself or with the others in your household) – it will do all of us a world of good while still physically distancing.

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