Yes, you can still enjoy spring while self-isolating—here’s what experts recommend

Spring looks a little different this year. Many of our regular rituals to welcome the new season—picnicking under the cherry blossoms, cheering your home team to victory on Opening Day, going a little overboard on farmer’s market samples—aren’t safe to participate in right now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been clear about what the next few weeks (and maybe months) will look like: lots of social distancing, lots of washing of hands, and no big gatherings. But that doesn’t mean you can’t partake in spring activities

These expert-backed tips and tricks will help you make the most of the changing seasons without putting yourself or your community at risk. And one day, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) is no longer a specter hanging over our everyday lives, you can tell your descendants how you got through the winter of your discontent and managed to celebrate spring. 

7 self-isolating spring activities that’ll help you enjoy the season:

1Garden within your home.

There’s no better time to test your green thumb than when you’re stuck inside during a global pandemic. Best-case scenario, you fulfill all your Little House on the Prairie fantasies about being self-sufficient. Worst-case scenario, you’ve expended some pent-up energy by digging around in the dirt.

Blythe Yost, head designer and co-founder of online landscape company Tilly, gives us some advice: First, start with how committed you are in terms of time, space, and cost. Will your garden be a window-box display or will it take over your guest bedroom?

“Some fun things to grow inside that you can eat include lettuce and leafy greens, basil, parsley, and cilantro,” says Yost. If you’re going to invest in one fancy thing for your plants, let it be light, says Yost. “Most vegetables need a minimum of eight hours to grow and significantly more to thrive. In order to provide light levels like that, invest in grow lights.” She recommends LEDs for their energy efficiency, but says fluorescent and metal halide lights would work, too. 

2Read poetry.

Remember when you had to read books all July and August to prepare for September class discussions? Whether you create a formal book club or not, now’s the time to sink your nose in some fresh spring reads. Val Walker—rehabilitative counselor and author of 400 Friends and No One To Call: Breaking Through Isolation and Building Community—suggests poetry by Mary Oliver, Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 98,” or William Blake’s “Spring.”

3Spring-clean your home.

There’s no better time to take a good, hard look at all your possessions than when you’re locked in with them. And even though many donation sites like The Salvation Army aren’t currently accepting donations, organizing your stuff now to give or throw away later is a good use of your quarantine time.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Arzt, who serves on the advisory board for Family Enthusiast, gets specific on what spring cleaning might mean for you: “It means going through all the tasks that you usually procrastinate on, like combing through your garage; tackling those old, stubborn files of paperwork; [or] cleaning out the closet. Since you’re stuck indoors, you might as well make your indoors feel as pleasant and comfortable as possible. “

4Host a virtual dinner party.

Put on your Easter or Passover best and sit down to a delicious meal—and a video camera. Your loved ones can cook the same thing or you can have the gathering, not the food, be the focus of the event. Lynell Ross, a health and wellness coach and editor of Zivadream, says gathering with your loved ones can help combat loneliness. “You will still be able to share stories, enjoy the same meal, and laugh together, just not in the same physical space. But you can stay connected, and that is healthy for our hearts and minds,” she says.

5Take a virtual tour.

Just because you can’t go on a weekend getaway doesn’t mean it can’t come to you. Tourism boards are harnessing the powers of technology and creating engaging virtual tours. But if you want a little more face-to-face time with your environment, Jen Boes of the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau says you can “take a scenic byway drive—[so] you never have to get out of the car.” 

6Redecorate your rooms.

Whether you celebrate the religious underpinnings of Easter or not, spending copious amounts of time on decorating an egg is a surprisingly fun stress reliever. “Instead of preparing [your home with] plastic Easter eggs, try decorating [with] real eggs. Taking the time to make crafts and special foods to celebrate the season will help keep you in the moment and savor it more,” says Patty Morrissey, the chief organizing expert for e-commerce company Mercari

7Get outside.

Long-term at-home quarantining might be the thing that flattens the curve, but it can also take a significant toll on your mental health. Feelings of restlessness or anxiety are normal, and finding ways to enjoy spring that include the great outdoors can help combat them. Try these recommendations:

  • Listen to birds singing: Okay, so maybe you can’t talk to the animals, but you can definitely listen to them. Walker suggests seeking out birds singing for peace of mind: “In witnessing the return of spring, we can tap into the spirit of life moving forward, affirming our lifeforce, even by simply listening to the birds in the morning singing their mating calls. In all the drastic human changes we are suffering now, there is the constancy and promise of spring—something we can count on, something resolute.”
  • Soak up the sun: Adina Mahalli, mental health professional and relationship expert at Maple Holistics, suggests making the most of extra daylight however you can, even if that’s just opening your window and sticking your face outside. “Just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the sunshine,” she says. Just make sure to use SPF, of course.
  • Go for a walk: Dr. Erum Ilyas, dermatologist and founder of UV-resistant clothing line AmberNoon, lays out the benefits: “Many people have been grappling with feelings of restlessness as a result of self-isolation. Making time to go for a walk in nice weather…can help break us out of a self-isolation slump.” Just remember to wear a mask and stand six feet away from others.