Better Mental Health is Easy if you Breathe Outdoors
By: Evan Wishloff
COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in everything. The speed at which things seem to be moving from it’s okay, just wash your hands to any gathering of 50+ people is banned has all of this feeling very surreal. It’s the perfect storm of a significant, uncertain, fast-changing event meeting our constantly-connected digital world that can easily lead to an anxiety-filled evening of constantly refreshing news stories.
The mental health burden this can bring should not be understated, but there is something you can do to help ease your mind.
Quick note before we dive in - your first step for guidance in what you should or should not do during this epidemic should come from your local health authority. As of this writing (March 16th), all of the below fit within Alberta Health Services guidelines and recommendations, assuming you are not showing any symptoms and do not fall in the category of individuals who are recommended to self-isolate or self-quarantine. Should that change, please follow all local health authority guidelines. For Albertan’s, those can be found here.
Getting outside has been proven to have a multitude of positive benefits for your health, including reduced risk of chronic diseases, better sleep, and reduced stress. It’s normal to feel a much higher baseline of stress right now, but getting outside can help mitigate that!
Right now, health authorities are urging social distancing to help slow the spread, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some fresh air. Yes, I know - between being stuck in 3rd-winter and the recommended social distancing, it feels easier than ever to just hunker down inside and not even open the blinds, BUT you can responsibly social distance AND get outside.
Laughter is good for reducing stress too, and thankfully, Alberta's 11 seasons are always good for a laugh!
Go for a Walk
Start by just going for a walk. Around the block or around your local park, it doesn’t matter. Go alone. Enjoy the silence. Leave your phone at home. Enjoy the outdoors.
Both Calgary and Edmonton have some fantastic green spaces with walking trails - some of them so green you might even forget you’re still in city limits!
Raise your Heartrate
There’s no shortage of research showing the psychological links between exercise and mental health. Take advantage of it! Toss a traction device on your runners and try a trail run. Or even just a brisk walk - but do something that gets the blood flowing to help your brain reset from those COVID worries.
There are ways to social-distance while still getting some wilderness adventure in. As long as there is no reason for you to quarantine yourself, you can explore nature - just make sure you either go alone, or only with members of your household who you already share communal space with.
For many Albertans, there are some amazing natural spaces that are doable in a day. For Edmontonians, Elk Island National Park is less than an hour away, and for Calgarians, you are at the gateway to the Canadian Rockies! A pair of snowshoes are all you need to press pause on the panic and breathe outdoors.
During this time, it is important to stay informed as the situation can change by the hour. We suggest going straight to the source for information and updates: www.Alberta.ca/COVID19
(Considering skipping social media or even news network sites when you’re looking for updates on COVID-19 - too easy to get caught up in opinions and editorializations on those websites. Facts trump feelings.)
We strongly urge everyone to abide by any restrictions health officials put in place as this situation develops.
Campers Village is Here for You
And don’t forget, Campers Village is still here for you. Our stores will remain open as long as it is safe to do so, and our website and online store are open 24/7!
If you’re feeling panicked about everything and just need to step away from the media circus by escaping to some normalcy, connect with us on Social Media. Message us on Facebook asking about some of our favourite hikes. View the hashtag #CampersVillage on Instagram to see how people are enjoying the outdoors. You can even slide into our DM’s if you have any outdoor-related questions - we’re here for you!