Well-Being in the Time of Coronavirus

“Nature spontaneously keeps us well. Do not resist her!”

— Henry David Thoreau

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We are being told to wash our hands, frequently; to cover our mouths when sneezing or coughing; and to practice social distancing. This is for the common good, and I support it completely and unflinchingly. We all have to protect those more vulnerable and at risk.

But not a lot is being said about how to support our own well-being in this time of Coronavirus. Reading good books and watching good films and TV series are absolutely on my list of things to do during this time of social distancing. But I am finding that walks in nature and on the beach have become even more crucial to me these days.

A dear friend of mine is staying with me at the moment. We read the news daily, well several times a day to be honest, and wring our hands and weep with helplessness and frustration. How can so many people have lost sight of the common good? And how can so many members of the current U.S. government be so selfish and greedy?

My friend says she finds solace sitting on my couch looking out my window at the big pohutukawa tree growing in my neighbor’s yard. She finds it soothing, and says it brings to her what she can only call a state of awe.

As we sit on the deck and look at the tree, I am reminded that nature heals.   According to Environmental Psychology: “Just a walk in the woods or a stroll by the beach on a sunny morning can awaken the innermost feelings of happiness and peace.”

In this time, where we are told to keep our social distance, we must be mindful of what author Richard Louv calls ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’.

Nature-deficit disorder is not the presence of an anomaly in the brain; it is the loss of connection of humans to their natural environment. Staying close to nature improves physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It makes us feel alive from the inside.

Research has shown that spending longer periods of time in nature has huge physical benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Optimum nervous system functions, well-balanced heart conditions, and reduced bowel disorders.
  • Reducing the chances of developing eyesight problems like hypermetropia and myopia.
  • Lower BMI; less fatigue and fewer chances of suffering from obesity.
  • Production of anti-cancer proteins and help in fighting terminal diseases.
  • Stronger immune system.

It has been repeatedly stated that we need to keep our immune system strong to fight Covid-19.

Other studies have shown that time in nature improves psychological well-being. This can include:

  • Significant mood improvement for all people, even those suffering from mild to major depressive disorders.
  • Reducing stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol.

The level of stress and anxiety has skyrocketed since this virus was detected, so anything that offers stress reduction is a gift.

So even if you are doing all the right things – washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and being vigilant in your social distancing, you can still take care of your well-being. The evidence is there. The studies have been done. Get out into nature!

As Frank Lloyd Wright so astutely said, “Study Nature, love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you.

I’d like to close with an inspiring TED Talk – Prescribing Nature for Health.

I’d love to hear how you are looking after your well-being in these challenging times. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

9 thoughts on “Well-Being in the Time of Coronavirus

  1. Once more, an insightful pleasure to read what you have shared with us. As one who structures much of my free time around walking/hiking in nature or even among communities, I agree. No wonder our vacations usually involve hiking across countries or at least lengths of the coast if we don’t walk the whole thing. Mostly, I enjoy the irony of the wise advice to wash ones hands, to keep them clean….usually washing off other people (as it were). I feel most at ease working in the garden, my hands filthy with mulch and loam and topsoil as I break up the chance by hand and press seeds into the earth or even plant them in the little greenhouses (on my dining room table) made from the plastic spin act containers I could not recycle last time, under a lightbulb. I am comforted by the sturdy straight-backed zucchini soldiers that started standing at attention this week, guarding our hopes that this virus will pass our home.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Scott. I am so moved. Your words are such a balm. I read this response to my friend who is staying with me, the one I described in my post. And she too got tears in her eyes and said what a beautiful thing to write, and what a treasure to be sharing this all with your old English Teacher. What a treasure indeed. Gratitude for your continued input in my life.

      Like

  2. About the best article I have read today and the most accurate. Nature and wellbeing are connected as I have come to learn. So much so that I even took a course on Coursera called The Science of Well being, got so excited and started blogging about it. 😄

    “Just a walk in the woods or a stroll by the beach on a sunny morning can awaken the innermost feelings of happiness and peace. ” This here is the truth!

    Thank you for this article. 👏

    Liked by 1 person

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