Getting exercise and fresh air is good for your mental health and immune system but during this uncertain time you may be having to choose between going outside and staying out of harm’s way.

Not being able to get outside can bring its own challenges, such as how to keep up your exercise routine or getting the fresh air and sunlight you need to stay emotionally well. If you don’t have access to a garden, or can’t get outside regularly during isolation, here are a few tips on bringing the outdoors to you.

  1. Continue exercising indoors – With the wonders of modern technology, there are a whole range of different online classes that you can take part in, from Qi Gong to Yoga and even full at-home workouts. Try to set aside some time each day (perhaps during the time you would usually be commuting) to get the blood flowing around your body and take your mind off the stresses of the day. If it is warm enough, perhaps open a window whilst you exercise so that you can breath in fresh air and have the illusion of being outdoors. To start you off we have some videos on our staying active resources page.
  2. Keep the windows open as much as possible – If you can’t get outside much you can still achieve some positive effects on your wellbeing by spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air. Arranging a space to sit with a nice view (if possible) and getting some natural sunlight on your skin will help to support your mental and physical health. Here is some advice on creating a safe space in your home.
  3. Tend to indoor plants – Apartment or flat living often rules out the option of getting into a garden, so a good way to bring the outdoors in is through house plants. Plants help purify the air, giving us the oxygen we breathe and absorbing the carbon dioxide we exhale. They can also act as a natural dehumidifier and air filter, which is of particular benefit when spending a lot of time at home. What’s more, isolation can leave a number of us feeling purposeless. By actively caring and nurturing plant life, we can support our mental health watching them grow and flourish under our care. If you don’t have much space, macrame hangers are a helpful way to bring plants indoors – you could even spend some time making your own if you’re so inclined. If you’re unsure of which plants would work for you, the RHS have some great advice on plants to suit your space. TOP TIP: If you grow herbs, you can use them in your cooking, which will further support your health and wellbeing. You can find lots of Penny Brohn UK recipes and other tips on eating well here.
  4. Practice imagery – Back in 2016, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that you can reduce stress by simply looking at images of nature. So taking some time to visualise being outside has huge benefits to our wellbeing. If you’re unfamiliar with practising imagery we have recorded a series of guided meditations that help you to visualise the Penny Brohn UK gardens. You can access this therapeutic garden tour here on our interactive garden map.
  5. Listening to nature sounds – Listening to nature can help us to relax, particularly if we are having trouble sleeping. Apps such as Headspace provide soundscapes for you to take in the sounds of nature. These could help support your imagery, provide background noise for your work space or help you drift off to sleep. As a Penny Brohn UK client, you can register for your free Headspace subscription here. You can also find some of their resources on YouTube.

If you have tried these ideas and you are still struggling, we are here to talk. Give our Helpline a call on 0303 3000 118 or email helpline@pennybrohn.org.uk. We also have a wealth of support resources to help support you through this challenging time. If you are struggling to find the right tools for you, the NHS mood self-assessment tool can help you to better understand how you are feeling and they also have a collection of wellbeing audio guides for you to listen to. There is also further helpful advice on what to do when staying at home on the Every Mind Matters website.

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