Happy Earth Day from NCSF

APRIL 22, 2020: Earth Day celebrates 50 years! To join in the celebration, NCSF has been posting at 6 p.m. CDT, M-F this week. We are celebrating God’s creation – the Earth and it’s wondrous creatures!

How to Celebrate when you are Feeling Stressed and Cooped up at Home?

Studies have shown that exposure to nature can lower stress, improve memory, boost your immune system, and lessen depression, among other benefits.

Of course, you shouldn’t go to a crowded park to appreciate nature during the COVID-19 pandemic, when social distancing is critical to stopping the spread of the virus. Luckily, you can appreciate nature wherever you are, whether that’s your backyard, in front of a TV screen or even on your apartment’s city block.

Here are a few ideas:

Walk outside: Despite the mandate to stay home, walking outside can support your health and mental well-being, as long as you take precautions to practice social distancing. That means staying six feet apart from other people and avoid groups, as well as wearing a face mask if needed. Take your time. Appreciate nature as you walk, whether it’s a daisy growing next to the sidewalk or you’re exploring a natural area. Pay attention to and respect park closures.

Watch a nature documentary or webcam: Nature documentaries and webcams can provide a soothing break to our stressful times. Watch family-friendly documentaries or  animal webcams. Additionally, you can check out One Earth’s free virtual film festival.

Start a garden: Growing food and native plants is a great way to connect with nature, support your health, decrease trips to the grocery store, and support wildlife habitat.

Become a citizen scientist: Help contribute to scientific research by working on projects. One option is the Wildwatch Burrowing Owl project, where you observe and classify owl behavior, which helps contribute to their conservation.

Birdwatch: If you have a yard, set up a bird feeder viewable from a window, just make sure you know what to feed them. Audubon’s bird watching app can help you ID and track bird sightings with friends.

Listen to nature: Search YouTube or your music streaming platform for nature sounds. They’re perfect for relaxing, meditating, or any other mindfulness exercise.

Travis Hawks is a sustainability specialist for Advocate Aurora Health.