Bring Belize’s Outdoors Home

by Carolee Chanona

As wellness trends go, ‘forest bathing’ and ‘outdoor therapy’ are two of our favorites. Being outdoors is proven to improve both mental and physical well-being. And in Belize, nature connects us all. Whether it’s a soothing sea breeze, the prospect of seeing a majestic jaguar in the wild, or appreciation of local produce from a farmer’s market. Ironically, as we grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and are urged to stay at home, opportunities to spend time in the outdoors is limited. But even at home, there are still plenty of ways to engage in outdoor therapy – we just need to get creative. Whether you have your own garden, veranda, or just access to a farmer’s market, you can bring the stress-relieving Belizean outdoor experience home.

Enjoy the Sunrise and Sunset

sunsetFor some, outdoor therapy at home can be as simple as walking barefoot through the grass of their backyard. Even if you don’t have your own outdoor space, you can get your daily dose of nature with sunrise and sunset. The sun sets and rises every single day, no matter where you are in the world. And with the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, its an easy way to infuse some wonder and awe into your [new] home routine. Not to mention, Belize’s brilliant coral-red sunsets this time of the year make a beautiful transition for a fresh start. It may not be forest bathing, but a sunset is a positive reminder that tomorrow brings a new day.

Exercising Outdoors

In Belize, residents can still go outside for exercise. Though limited between 5:00 am and 8:00 am, Monday through Saturday, there are also numerous benefits to exercising in the morning. With morning light, your body starts to regulate it’s body clock or circadian rhythm, which promotes restful sleep. Additionally, sunlight is our body’s favorite source of vitamin D, which boosts our immune system and combats depression. It’s time to enjoy the outdoors for your health!

“Sleep disturbance is a major side effect of the COVID-19 crisis. Its linked with a deterioration in both mental and physical health.” – Shirley Gleeson, cofounder of Forest Therapy Institute.

Virtually Explore at Home

Experiencing the sights and sounds of the Belizean outdoors through digital media is also an option. Virtual outdoor therapy has the benefit of allowing you to see new Belizean hotspots, without leaving home. In 2017, the BBC published findings of research with the University of California, Berkeley, showing that watching nature programs makes us happier while reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.

Bring ‘Outside’ In

We can also, quite literally, bring Belize’s outdoors inside with indoor plants. Houseplants not only uplift your mood and calm the nervous system, but help you offer a nourishing experience. Some plants in particular are extremely beneficial for purifying the air, like Aloe Vera or a variety of the Snake Plant.

Ultimately, experts agree that during the current crisis it’s important to connect with nature any way we can. That is outdoor or not, Belize or beyond. It may even be an opportunity to notice things we normally miss during our hectic lives. No one stops nature: not the coronavirus; not us.

Featured Image Courtesy: ROEming Belize Travel Agency

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