By Richard Louv, Children & Nature Network, March 16, 2020
If the coronavirus spreads at the rate that experts believe it will, schools, workplaces and businesses will continue to close. Here’s a thread of silver lining. We’ll have more time for each other and nature. And, at least so far, nature’s always open.
Getting outside — but at a safe distance from other people — can be one way to boost your family’s resilience. If you spend too much time indoors, “your vitamin D level goes down,” advises John de Pluma, MD, a board-certified internist and proponent of food-based health practices and nature therapy. De Pluma points to research suggesting an association between visiting forests and improving immune responses. Keep in mind that the research he cites is specific to forests outside of cities. But an increasing body of scientific evidence does associate Vitamin N (for Nature) with reduced stress, better mental and physical health and greater cognitive functioning. Connecting with animals (wild and domestic) may also offset the downside of social distancing.
So, here’s a sampling of activities (borrowed from Vitamin N, Our Wild Calling, Last Child in the Woods and other sources) to help your family make the best of a tough situation. These activities all depend on availability of outdoor spaces, and thinking this through for all of us reminds us of the inequity of park and outdoor space distribution in the United States. Something to take action on after the pandemic lifts.