Are you overwhelmed with anxiety over the insidious creep of the new strain of coronavirus, COVID-19? Does it seem like everywhere you turn you are being told to wash your hands, practice social distancing, avoid all gatherings and disinfect everything from devices to doorknobs? There is wisdom in all of this, as we strive to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19’s impacts on life as we know it. But while it might feel like fear is gaining ground every day, it’s helpful to look for the silver lining to this menacingly dark cloud.
For example, “self-quarantining” does not necessarily mean we must confine ourselves indoors, where, by this time of year, cabin fever may have already gained a strong foothold. Seize the opportunity for self-selected solitude. Heed your urge for fresh air, sunlight and activity by opting outside for a solitary walk through a forest or along a path where you are unlikely to encounter other humans.
In the past, this simple strategy was called a “constitutional”—an old-fashioned and largely forgotten term for a walk taken for the benefit of one’s health. The concept has evolved to include the popular practice of forest bathing, which acts as a balm for burned out and overwhelmed nervous systems and sagging spirits.
While walking, turn your mind away from your own concerns. Tune in to the present moment by focusing awareness on the sensory qualities of your experience. Look at the light blading through the trees, listen to the cacophony of bird calls, feel the breeze blowing across your face and smell the earthy musk of the thawing landscape.
When returning from your foray, take the opportunity to reconnect with reading—a satisfying solitary activity that soothes the spirit and feeds the mind. Choose your nourishment wisely, however. This is not a good time to tackle nail-biting tomes about pandemics! Dose yourself with the healing balm of Mary Oliver’s poetry. Dive into the just-published spring issue of “Orion” magazine featuring works by outstanding writers centered around the theme “How Earth Endures.” Subscribe to your community newspaper to tap into the local perspective that is more important now than ever.
And for a thought-provoking exploration of how gratitude can play a role in staying strong in coming days, read the following reflection at Daily Good: www.bit.ly/TRRdailygood.