The COVID-19 pandemic physical and psychological effects may be with us for a long time.
Since the pandemic’s start, the percentage of people reporting anxiety or depression has increased.
Many health experts note more sleeping problems and more alcohol and substance abuse. But research shows better ways exist to deal with the stress associated with this type of protracted event.
Step outside. You don’t have to go on strenuous hikes or take up jogging. Just being in nature can boost your mental fitness.
Blue & You Foundation Makes A Difference
Here’s where the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas can help. Since 2001, the Blue & You Foundation has been dedicated to improving the health of Arkansans, awarding approximately $3 million in grants annually to nonprofit and governmental organizations that positively affect Arkansans’ health.
Many grants have been for recreational parks, green spaces and walking trails.
“For twenty years, the Blue & You Foundation has been committed to improving the health of Arkansans. Investing in outdoor spaces has never been more impactful than during the past year. From walking trails to splash pads, to adult exercise stations and sand volleyball courts, these investments have allowed people to continue moving,” says Rebecca Pittillo, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation.
Chances are you are closer to a suitable nature stroll than you realize.
A simple stroll through a wooded area. Feeling the sun on your face. Literally stopping to smell the flowers can help fight stress and anxiety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with more access to green environments — parks and recreation areas — tend to walk more than those with limited access.
Get Active in Arkansas
From fitness stations in Lake Village to exercise trails in Greenland, from outdoor fitness equipment in Hatfield to a West Memphis walking trail, the foundation has helped make fitness more accessible in every corner of the state.
Rebecca notes, “No matter where you live in the state of Arkansas, there are beautiful places to spend time outdoors. Over the past year, I’ve learned to prioritize my mental health. Going outdoors to take a walk, playing fetch with your dog, or going on a bike ride with friends can significantly improve your mental wellbeing not to mention your physical health. There are some days that getting out of bed and going for a run seems like the last thing I want to do, but I have found that going for a run or walk outdoors and breathing in the fresh air, helps me manage stress and reduce anxiety throughout my day.”
“The Blue & You Foundation encourages individuals to realize that your mental health is just as important your physical health, and they greatly impact each other. Getting outside is one of the simplest ways to care for your whole self,” says Rebecca. Turn off the news, silence the cell phone, step outside and take in the fresh air. A little outdoors goes a long way toward your physical and mental health, especially during a pandemic.