We are living in unprecedented times.
You have probably heard this phrase many times in the last few weeks. Terms like “social-distancing” have become an everyday part of our vocabulary. With news that changes hourly, it is difficult to predict what Earth Day 2020 will be like during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Earth Day Network, which organizes events around the globe, has said celebrations are going digital for the green holiday’s 50th anniversary on April 22, 2020.
With all of this in mind and if you are able, take some time this Earth Day (and everyday) to go outside and enjoy nature.
Earth Day has a long tradition of celebrating our natural world and recognizing the impact we have on it. This Earth Day, let’s also recognize the impact that nature has on us.
You are likely reading this from home. If you are not self-isolating because you are one of the many dedicated people who work in essential services, businesses, and healthcare, thank you.
Keep in mind these ”keepsake” messages:
- Keep washing your hands
- Keep 2 meters (about 6 feet) apart
- Keep being kind to one another
- Keep going outside (when it’s safe to do so)
- Keep sharing our natural spaces so that we all have a chance to enjoy them.
There has been an unprecedented (there’s that word again) amount of change for everyone, but here are some things that will have remained the same:
Studies show that even just 30 minutes spent outside a week can reduce stress, anxiety, the risk of heart disease, and depression.
Science shows that being on, near, or in the water can make you happier and improve your well-being. To learn more about this, read Wallace J. Nichols’ “Blue Mind.”
It’s spring and the days are getting longer. This means there is more sunlight and Vitamin D waiting to be absorbed, boosting our energy levels and moods. There’s also more time in the day to go and be outside.
Getting outside and by the water is good for your mental health and well-being. Simply getting outside for half an hour can help and is a great household activity (or great alone, if some social distance is needed from the people you live with).
As you might have guessed, with everyone heading to natural spaces like parks and trails, they have become more crowded than usual. This can make it difficult to keep those necessary 2 meters (about 6 feet) apart. As always, follow the advice of the health experts and remain indoors if your community is asking for you to do so. See also: the World Health Organization’s advice on COVID-19.
If you can visit an outdoor space nearby, remember that these natural areas are for everyone. Try to visit your nearby park at off-peak hours and keep your distance from others. If it’s too busy, then head somewhere else.
We are all in this together and everyone should be given the opportunity to gain the benefits of taking some time in nature. We just can’t do it all at once.
On April 22, there will probably be more people out for Earth Day. If you’re an early riser, take in the sunrise. If you’re not, the sunsets in the Great Lakes region are just as beautiful, whether inland or on the shores.
As of this writing, National Parks in Canada and Provincial Parks in Ontario are closed to the public, but many Conservation Areas and trails remain open. You can find up-to-date information here.
Many National Parks in the United States are still open and without entrance fees; check for updates here for the most current information. If you’re not sure about the park or trail you plan to visit, look it up online or call ahead. Many park administrators have provided COVID-19-related information and are available online or by phone.
In the Great Lakes region, it is not yet swimming season, but around the world people are seeking out their local waters and beaches for a natural escape during this time. This has led to overcrowding in many popular spots. As we move into warmer weather, it is important to apply the same health-conscious attitudes, practices and safe distances at open beaches and other water access points.
While it is always important to check the water quality before getting in or on the water, keeping informed about how COVID-19 could impact beaches, recreational water quality, and recreational water activities is important, too.
Swim Guide, an initiative of Toronto, Ontario-based Swim Drink Fish, will be sharing that information as it becomes available. You should also monitor your local water quality and health information for updates.
We at Swim Drink Fish want everyone to be able to appreciate and benefit from nature for the comfort and peace it can provide in this time of anxiety and stress. Here’s to a Happy Earth Day, outside and hopefully by the water.