By Allie Ouendag
The three-week stay at home order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday was a frightening wake up call for many Michiganders that life would be drastically changing. Despite all non life-essential business and organizations temporarily closing in order to combat the growing COVID-19 threat, the great outdoors will still provide residents with a place to exercise and get out of in-home quarantine.
Cabin fever is the term most often used to describe what many Michiganders will be feeling in the coming weeks. With a long period of isolation comes feelings of restlessness and irritability. One of the best ways to curb cabin fever is to experience the outdoors in a safe manner, whether it’s walking your dog or practicing yoga on a sunny day.
The Center for Disease Control website stresses the importance of mental health during quarantine.
“Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children,” the CDC website stated. “Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.”
According to a report published in Frontiers in Psychology by Pearson and Creig, “There is growing evidence to suggest that exposure to natural environments can be associated with mental health benefits. Proximity to greenspace has been associated with lower levels of stress and reduced symptomology for depression and anxiety.”
Heather H., a Community Resource Specialist through the 211 program by Heart of Michigan United Way who requested that her last name stay confidential, assures residents that getting outside can be a beneficial practice if used in a safe manner.
“According to the health department, studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with drops caused by coughs or sneezes rather than through the air,” she said.
This means that you are unlikely to catch the virus through open air and are safe to be in the outdoors.
This does not, however, discount the risk that the virus can spread through person to person contact. Kent County Parks recommends that you stay at least six feet apart from other visitors, stay away from playground equipment, restrooms, and clubhouses, as well as frequently wash or sanitize your hands before and after visiting the parks.
The following is a list of Kent County Parks and Trails:
Millennium Park- 1415 Maynard Ave SW, Walker, MI 49534
Provin Trails Park- 2900 4 Mile Rd, Grand Rapids Township, MI 49525
Seidman Park- 8155 Conservation Road, Ada, MI 49301
Lepard Nature Preserve- 6030 76th St SE, Caledonia MI 49316