We find ourselves in unprecedented times. We are working hard to adapt to the new normal and do our part to reduce the spread of the virus. We encourage you to stay connected to nature in what can be difficult and stressful times. Although we cannot be in nature together, we can still enjoy the outdoors apart! Spending time in the fresh air is helpful for mental health and staying active during this time. Here are our best practices for how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.
1. Stay Up to Date with Local Health Authority Guidelines
The situation is rapidly changing and always evolving. Being responsible citizens means staying up to date on best practices. Here is the link to the Ontario government website for up-to-date information.
2. Collective Responsibility
We are in this together and are ALL responsible for slowing down rates of transmission. These are unprecedented times and we need to be aware that our actions can impact the most vulnerable in our society. The decisions we make have societal impacts and we need to make decisions according to the collective good. We are stronger together.
3. Social Distancing and Getting Outdoors
Social Distancing is a new term. It means maintaining physical distance between yourself and others, as well as minimizing close contact with others as much as possible. The fundamental idea of social distancing is to reduce disease transmission to EVERYONE, not just oneself. The goal is not just to prevent oneself from catching it.
- Maintain 2 meters apart from others
- Avoid busy trails, staircases, beaches, and all other areas where physical distancing would not be possible
- No gatherings permitted, even outdoors.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when coming home.
- Stay home if you have any symptoms (cough, runny nose, difficulty breathing) or have recently come home from traveling
4. Getting a New Outlook on Nature
We highly encourage getting outside, whether in your backyard or on a walk in your neighbourhood. To find out what's open for day use or overnight camping, check the websites for Parks Canada, Ontario Parks and Ontario Crown Land.
However, a new outlook on your neighbourhood walk can provide plenty of opportunity for outdoor exploration! Whether you discover a new local nature pocket, decide to climb a tree you’ve always walked past, or take a moment to look at birds chirping in the trees, you do not need to go far to discover that nature is right outside your doorstep.
5. Creative Ways to Stay Connected to Nature at Home
At some point or another, we may find ourselves spending a lot more time indoors whether we want to or not… and that’s okay. Here are some ideas for staying connected to nature from home: Things to Do- Watch – Read.
Being outside is a privilege, but done responsibly, it can help cope with stress, improve mental health, allow for physical well-being, and help burn extra energy for kids at home. We can’t be outside together, but let’s be outside apart!
Photo of a groundhog adapted to living in the city at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Kristina Jackson)