When the world was sent into lockdown, springtime was riding our heels. Despite the state of things, flowers still began to bloom and birds still began to sing. Each day grew a little lighter and a little warmer.

That much-anticipated shift from winter to spring is a celebration for anyone who lives in an area where snow, single-digit weather, and early sunsets send life into lethargy. It’s why there’s a newfound energy in the air once that warmer weather finally does hit. I know I usually feel it, but this year it was in a different way.

I lost my job at the end of March due to the pandemic. Luckily, my husband has remained employed, but we live in a small apartment. I’m not going to lie, that combo has taken its toll. My days turned into a big up-and-down roller coaster ride as I tried to navigate boredom and monotony on top of my already-existing anxiety/depression.

I continue to ride that roller coaster, but something that’s helped is being outside. I’ve taken any chance I could get to soak up the sun, breathe in the fresh air, and surround myself with nature: visiting parks, going for a walk or a run, outdoor yoga, exploring new towns, and photography (all of this was/is done safely, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask).

I even started buying flowers more often to bring a little bit of nature into our space.

Because that’s the thing: Nature can do wonders for your mind. It acts as the perfect cleanser for when you’re feeling tired, anxious, or stuck. It’s reenergizing and invigorating.

The beginning of November gifted us with a few (unusually) warm days reaching the 70s. I made sure to take full advantage of them.

There was one particular morning when I started feeling anxious and foggy, so with a couple of poetry books in hand, I decided to spend time outside. As I was reading from Inward by Yung Pueblo, the word “purifying” caught my eye:

“whatever calms and concentrates the mind causes the purifying release of old burdens that weigh us down.” (107)

It was incredibly fitting because that’s what I experienced by getting outside. All it took was a couple of hours to make a difference in how I felt for the rest of the day: relaxed and refreshed.

I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, but this year has given me a new appreciation for it along with a different perspective of just how good it can be for our mental wellbeing. Winter is approaching, but I still plan to get outside as often as I can, even if it’s for a quick 10-minute walk.

As we continue dealing with COVID-10, it’s important for us all to find something that helps ease our anxieties and clear our heads.