The world has gone to crazy town. There is a global pandemic on and infectious disease and public health experts are telling us we need to distance ourselves from each other to slow down the spread. Entire cities and towns are closing down. People have locked themselves away in their homes. But locking ourselves inside isn’t healthy, either. After a few days, even the biggest homebodies are getting stir-crazy. On the other hand, social distancing might just be the perfect reason to escape to the great outdoors.
As you read this, I am on my way to the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument for some backcountry camping, and maybe some coyote hunting. You see, to me, sitting inside my apartment by myself for weeks on end sounds like an especially cruel form of torture. So when I heard everything would be closing down and human interaction was strongly discouraged, I decided I would escape to a place where being alone is a bonus.
In the great outdoors, I want to be alone. The peace, quiet, and solitude are restorative to my mind and spirit, unlike the loneliness and depression that sets in when locked inside for extended periods of time. There are numerous studies that show real mental health benefits to outdoor activity, benefits that include “psychological healing” and “reductions in stress and anxiety.” Setting out into the wilderness also gives me an opportunity to stay active instead of lounging on the couch for weeks on end. There is probably no better way to train for elk hunting than putting on a heavy pack and hiking into the mountains.
Let’s use this forced break from work and social interaction to get outside. Even if you can’t make it out to a wilderness area or national park (yes, many of them are still open as of this writing), head to your local state park, or even pitch a tent in the backyard and convince your kids they’re on an adventure to break the monotony. Go for walks. In this crazy and uncertain time, the boost to your mood you’ll experience by getting out into nature can make all the difference.