During this unprecedented time, we all are feeling the strain of having
to stay home to stay safe. If you’re a parent or guardian living with a loved
one with an intellectual or developmental disorder, that challenge can be even
greater. There’s confusion, fear and a strong sense of cabin fever. We want to
stay safe, but long for a change of scenery.
You have likely come up with new ways to stay busy with our loved ones indoors,
like taking up baking, DIY projects, reading books and other activities. With
winter now b_ehind us, most of us are feeling the urge to get outside and into
the warm sunshine.
Getting outside is important for so many reasons. It keeps our bodies
and minds healthy. It also raises our energy and keeps our mood calm, focused
and positive. Studies show that nature can boost our creative problem-solving
abilities by engaging our attention in a quieter way which in turn lets our
During previous springs, we may have taken a trip with our loved one to
a local state park for a hike or gone to a local botanical garden to take in
its beauty. Now, due to the threat of the Coronavirus, we need to be a little
more creative about how to safely get our Vitamin D.
It is important to follow your local safety protocols and remember it is safer at home and in a setting where you can control your environment. If you’re ready to venture outdoors, remember to follow CDC guidelines and—to be on the safe side—ensure that you and your loved one are both wearing masks when you’re in public. Gloves are a good idea, too.
Depending on what’s appropriate for your loved one, here are 5 options
to help you and your loved one get outside and rejuvenate your body and mind:
- Enjoy the outdoors while doing some basic exercises in your yard. Adding energizing music can make the time even more enjoyable and get the blood pumping.
- Create a scavenger hunt for you and your loved one that can be accomplished in your backyard or neighborhood. Bethesda has an example of one in the Activities Center on the Bethesda website.
- Relax, take some time to mentally refocus and listen to one of these songs or playlists while sitting in the sunshine. Ground yourself by focusing on your senses. What do you feel, hear, smell or see? Take deep breaths in … and out … and just enjoy where you are.
- Play a game or read together in the sunshine. Explore the flowers and plants in the yard. Look for squirrels and birds. Find shapes in clouds. Nature is an incredible classroom and opportunity for learning.
- What better time than now to take on an outside project? Talk to your loved one and see what interests them. You could create a raised garden bed, a DIY bird feeder, or simply weed and take care of what you already have in your yard. Not only would this be great time outside, but it also creates deeper bonds as you work together in Mother Nature’s playground.
The coronavirus may still be present in our lives, but we can still get
outside and stay safe. During the summer, getting sun for even a few minutes,
two or three times a week, is enough to keep our bones, blood cells and immune
systems in check. Not to mention the numerous mental health benefits!
We all look forward to the day when things will start to feel more
normal, but in the meantime, enjoy the extra time you have to be at home and
the extra time with the one you love.