“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”

(Vincent Van Gogh)

Hello friends,

This is Dana Rubin-Winkelman, the social worker. I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.

In this week’s “Touch Points” email I will be discussing the importance of going outdoors, and how incorporating time can improve your health. Now that the weather is warmer, we are able to venture out of our homes and enjoy the beauty of nature. Spending time outside (while practicing social distancing and safety, of course!) can improve your sleep, mood, mental and physical health, and reduce stress.

We are lucky to live in a beautiful city and state. Not only are we located right off the shores of stunning Lake Michigan, but we are blessed with well-maintained Milwaukee County Parks, nature trails, beaches and gardens! So, as our state parks and forests open, I want to share different ways to incorporate the great outdoors into your life! As always, I am thinking about our families caring for someone with memory loss. If possible, I would encourage an outdoor excursion for you, too. This can be a valuable experience. However, for all of us, in the face of COVID and social distancing, I would suggest planning ahead and choosing a location that is not crowded. There are a variety of ideas below- some just outside your door, and other, more complicated, suggestions. I hope you find a good fit; a nature-rich day is just what the doctor ordered!

WAYS TO FIND A DAILY DOSE OF OUTDOOR FUN:

  1. Just Do it!- Go Outside-  Being outside has positive psychological benefits. For me, when I am outside, I am able to turn my mind off and enjoy the moment. Although I am not a doctor, I would like to “prescribe” a 20 minute daily ‘dose’ of outdoor/nature time. There are plenty of outdoor spaces to choose from. Try sitting under a tree, on a bench, or enjoy a rooftop garden. Getting outside may also reduce isolation and grow our sense of wonder.
  2. Patio Time Anyone? – Simply, step outside your home find a comfy seat. Personally, I enjoy a morning cup of coffee on our deck. The birds serenade me while I watch the tall, trees sway. It is my own little slice of heaven.  If later in the day is better, then how about enjoying a lemonade and a nosh, or even a meal.
  3. Take a stroll– Hit the road in your area for an evening stroll or check out the trails. Although there are many beautiful parks to choose from, today, I want to highlight historic Lake Park. If you never have visited, it is certainly worth a try. Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, this beautiful park has winding paths, vistas and formal landscaping and gardens. The landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmstead, also designed Central Park in New York City! Wow! It would be an ideal spot for a romantic picnic, or a place to enjoy nature and reflect. To incorporate a little brain health while you stroll, try naming 15 things to do in nature. If Lake Park doesn’t float your boat, or you would like to try another, click here to find the park of your dreams! https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Parks/Explore/Find-a-Park
  4. Exercise or play games outside– Run, bike, walk or play a game outside. We are trying to find ways to spend time with our three teenagers. So, in an attempt to love and connect with them in a meaningful way (groan here please), we have planned family games of crochet, badminton and volleyball in our front yard. I am sure it is hard to believe that our 13, 15, and 18 year old children do not always want to spend time with us. However, when this rarity occurs, we know just what to do. We offer an incentive. Meaning- we bribe them with desserts to play with us. Okay, stop judging… I know some of you do it too!
  5. Camp or try “deck camping”– If you can camp, pop up a tent in your backyard. And, if you used to camp, but it is not possible to that now, then try “deck camping.” Bring out binoculars, granola bars, and eat s ‘mores on your deck. This sweet snack of chocolate bars and marshmallows, sandwiched between graham crackers, will take you right back to your last camping trip. While you are looking up at the stars, incorporate a few creative questions into your experience. What is your earliest memory? What is your favorite memory in nature? If you could be anywhere in the world, where would it be?  Click here for a recipe for indoor s ‘mores https://lmld.org/make-indoor-smores/
  6. Be a virtual wildlife observer- Do you find that getting out is difficult or you are safer at home? No problem! For any bird lover, take a relaxing break and watch the Cornell Lab Bird Cams. This virtual field trip is mesmerizing! Thank you Michael Sattell who shared this lovely, fun link. Click here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/

How are you enjoying your daily dose of the outdoors? Please email and share. I always enjoy hearing from you! DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org

Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,

Dana