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The Power Of The Great Outdoors

by Ekaterina Zelenin

Quarantine has been here for quite sometime now and while being cooped up and bored in the house certainly takes away from vacation vibes, there’s plenty to do where you live.

Thankfully, New Jersey state parks have finally reopened, but there was a dark time when even this privilege wasn’t available to the public. As someone who finds relief in and relishes outdoor environments, the initial closing of parks had me going insane. That is until I found an excellent alternative to the problem.

I have a nice yard at home surrounded by wild plants and untamed shrubs. When the dire situation of staying indoors left me yearning for some very much needed fresh air, I began a daily routine I have since stuck to.

I got up early every morning and walked my dog, made myself and my family some breakfast and afterward, I would put on some old jeans and a t-shirt and go outside to work on my yard.

Ekaterina Zelenin | The Montclarion

The sunrise in Wayne, New Jersey.
Photo courtesy of Ekaterina Zelenin

I started doing little things. Pulling out weeds, collecting sticks in the fire pit, cleaning up trash that I found and so on. Together my family and I managed to clear out the somewhat forgotten territory within a small number of days. From here, we decided to step up our game.

We went to Lowe’s and Home Depot and purchased bushes, flower seeds and even a Magnolia tree. Spending time in our yard together stood as a good bonding experience leaving all of us satisfied and in good spirits. It has now been two months since we began the transition of our green haven.

While we still care and maintain a weekly checkup on the new plants, the reopening of parks has given us more liberty to hike and explore, and with more activity outside I noticed some imperative changes to my lifestyle.

For starters, my grades improved a lot. I didn’t have terrible marks to begin with but the assignments I once struggled with, math in particular, suddenly became easier to comprehend. Being outdoors also helped me release the anxiety and frustration that I had. When I returned home and started working on schoolwork, I realized I could stay focused for longer periods of time.

Not only that, but being outside also did wonders for me physically. Prior to the quarantine, I usually only hiked on weekends because of work and classes. I wasn’t getting my daily exercise and I was left with terrible acne and an incredible strain on my knees.

Golden afternoon at Laurelwood Arboretum

Golden afternoon at Laurelwood Arboretum.
Photo courtesy of Ekaterina Zelenin Photo credit: Ekaterina Zelenin

Staying at home left me munching on more snacks than usual, intensifying my acne and prompting slight weight gain. However, leaving my job and having online classes gave me the opportunity to spend hours outside everyday. As I began hiking throughout the week and working in my yard, I saw my skin started clearing up faster and my weight had gone down.

Because I was out so much I had reduced my running, but increased my overall physical performance. I still continued to exercise but I was now switching up my workouts which left me feeling less tired and more energized to go on with my day.

Now that my break has begun I have also stayed more committed to healthier hobbies. I read, write, take photographs and try to practice piano as well. Going outside and having a structured day during quarantine helped me get back on track physically, mentally and emotionally.

Although this is certainly a scary time, I recommend making the most of it. Fill your day with as many activities as you can. Do crafts, learn to knit, paint, draw, dance and even try singing. Find your niche and whatever you do always try to have fun.

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