By Jean Larson, manager of Nature-Based Therapeutic Services Program at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for “community mitigation strategies” to limit the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) which include recommendations for “social distancing”—a term used by epidemiologists aiming to reduce close contact between people in an effort to thwart community transmission of the virus.
While it is essential we abide by the recommendations, it does interrupt our usual daily routine. Which is why I recommend embracing the moment as an opportunity precisely because our daily routines have been disrupted.
Think of it – you have the opportunity to take a break and walk around the block, or go outdoors to exercise, or connect with your children while playing fetch with your dog. This disruption has given us permission to engage with each other and ourselves in an intentional manner. Doing things outside in nature is protecting our emotional wellbeing while safeguarding our physical health.
As long as we stay more than six feet from one another I say, get outside and breathe in the fresh air, look up and watch the sand hill cranes migrating, listen to sounds of the red winged black birds and open your eyes to all the natural beauty around us every day. The rhythms of nature are steadfast and true. It is in the recognition that brings restoration.
Jean Larson has a Ph.D. in education with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation and a minor in integrative medicine from the University of Minnesota. She is also an assistant professor at the University’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. She is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, a registered horticultural therapist, and has a certificate in disability services and administration from the Institute of Community Integration. She is a two-time Fulbright scholar.
Larson’s work has taken her to Japan, England, Sweden, Norway, Taiwan and Israel. She is at home on her family farm north of the Twin Cities along with her husband, dogs, cats, goats, chickens and horses.