Taking Back Your Power Through Green Spaces
As fear, worry, and stress continue to rise throughout 2020, I look to our green spaces to bring me back to center and help me regain my power. This is true for many aspects of my life including work, exercise, school, and home life. These are places where power seems hard to come by these days with social distancing measures in place and so many unknowns. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession have created a multitude of barriers to mental and physical health and embracing our green spaces is a key step to recovery.
Finding Green Space at Work:
For most people, work life looks much different than it did 9 months ago. Fear of keeping your job, a constant changing schedule, new protocols and policies every month, and hours and hours of zoom calls weighs heavy on our minds and bodies. A study from the Landscape Research journal finds that employees who had access to a natural area near their workspace felt calm and relaxed, restored in their ability to focus, and felt good about themselves when visiting these spaces during breaks. Now, doesn’t that sound like something we all need throughout our workday?
Exercise, another area that has changed and brought additional fear and anxiety. Gyms are either closed or restricted and most fitness classes have been canceled. While the pandemic claims another aspect of our daily lives our green spaces can give it back.
The National Parks and Recreation Association reports that 83% of adults find exercising at local parks and open spaces essential to maintaining their mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily for us – the Truckee Meadows has it all. Biking up Peavine Mountain, hiking around Galena Creek Regional Park, jogging along the Truckee River, and walking throughout your neighborhood are only a few ways to utilize our green spaces for exercise.
In addition to exploring these many places, there are organizations who are ready to help you explore them in a safe way. If you are into mountain biking, check out the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association. If you want to get into hiking, the Sierra Club has many resources. Then my personal favorite, for an introduction to the many parks and trails in the area check out the Truckee Meadows Trails Challenge that the Parks Foundation organizes. If you are into it – chances are there are multiple organizations and businesses that will help you along the way.
Whether your child is going to school full time, in a hybrid model, or at home full time; making sure your child is safe and getting the best education is more stressful than ever during the 2020-2021 school year. Once again nature and our green spaces step in. Several studies have shown that just seeing nature from school buildings helps students deal with attention fatigue and stress.
I don’t know about you, but my kiddo could sure use some help with attention fatigue. Our saving grace has been the Parks Foundation’s “Explorations Newsletter”. This monthly newsletter includes diverse, at-home activities that my kiddo and I can do together.
These activities encourage active learning and critical thinking so I know my child is getting the extra help she needs during this time while also getting her exploring the outdoors. They even have family wellness activities to get us all involved. Other great resources include Urban Roots at-home activities and Homeschool Programs as well as the Parks Foundations Student Stewards Science Videos and Junior Naturalist program.
Embracing Green at Home:
Nature can be a true buffer for the everyday stress in our lives and has proven to be invaluable throughout this year. While our greenspaces are not going to take away our stress, it will help provide the tools we need to reduce some of the negative impacts that this pandemic has brought and take back our power. Just a simple walk through my neighborhood puts me in a mindset to take on whatever drama has come up that day. All our family decisions are made while walking down the trail. Conversation flows and the stressors of that decision don’t seem as daunting, which allows us to make the best decisions for our family.
Our parks and open spaces have given me a little peace in a time of chaos. My life would not be the same without these resources, and I look for every opportunity I can to give back. This takes many forms including volunteering, donating when I can, and spreading the word. There are many organizations in our community stepping up and increasing their services and making sure our community gets all the benefits the outdoors has to offer. Parks and recreation professionals have jumped into action to keep our parks, trails, and green spaces open to support physical and mental health, and I hope you join me in giving that support back to the places that need it most!