Keeping healthy and connected in times of crisis

woman thinking while sitting on dock

Even in times of crisis, we have many ways to experience community, keep positive and stay healthy — while maintaining our commitment to nature and our collective well-being. (Photo: Ifrah Akhter on Unsplash)

We find ourselves in extraordinary times. But despite upheaval from the global COVID-19 pandemic, we can also see signs of hope, connection and resilience as communities come together in unprecedented ways.

As with the climate and biodiversity crises, we’re in this together and need to join in collective action for the common good.

People throughout Canada have been following directions from health authorities — physically distancing and staying home — to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. Whether we realize it or not, this is an act of love for each other — an investment in our collective future.

In these challenging circumstances, we still have many ways to experience community, keep positive and stay healthy — all while maintaining our commitment to nature and our collective well-being.

Four ways to stay inspired

Walking barefoot

1. Reconnect with nature

During a time of crisis, it’s normal to experience a heightened sense of fear and uncertainty. Fortunately, a growing chorus of scientists and researchers agree: time spent in nature makes us happier, healthier and less stressed. It even makes us nicer and more empathetic, with more meaningful relationships and increased community involvement. Just remember to follow distancing guidelines and regulations.

Evidence shows that being regularly immersed in a natural setting, like a park, wetland or woodlot — and even simply having a view of nature or looking at pictures of it — can reduce blood pressure, anxiety and stress levels and boost immunity.

Here are a few restorative things you can do to start feeling healthier, happier and more peaceful:

Young man in garden

2. Plant seeds of change

Throughout Canada, signs of spring are beginning to show. Now is a great time to prep your yard, garden plot or balcony, start seedlings, repot indoor plants and more.

Spring is also a time of renewal. As we roll up our sleeves to get our hands dirty, let’s use this time to imagine what life will be like on the other side of this crisis. Great oaks from little acorns grow!

Man inside house observing nature

3. Act at home — for the common good!

Physically distancing and staying home offer many people an opportunity to come together with families and roommates. COVID-19 reminds us to slow down, support one another and consider a simpler way of living. How can we find new ways of cohabitating that we’ll be better for in the long run?

  • Are you the eco-friendliest person in your home? Encourage those you live with to go green, while appreciating that everyone is doing their best. Connect over the values you share and host a house meeting to generate ideas. Need inspiration on where to get started? Review tips from our Queen of Green.
  • Now that we’ve refilled our pantries and stocked our supplies for the coming weeks at home, we can find new ways to make the most of what we have, waste less and enjoy life more. This can include reducing food waste by freezing food and not confusing “best before” dates with “expired”, making your own hand soap and cleaning products or going zero-waste altogether!
  • Many people have experienced a loss of their daily routines, especially those who are out of work or away from school. It’s okay to embrace the idleness you might be experiencing. Take time to process what’s going on and permit yourself to rest a little more. Remember, the Buddha didn’t reach enlightenment until he decided to stop doing everything! One unintended benefit of some selective idleness is that it can even be a novel climate solution. By slowing down and sleeping more, we consume less energy and resources.
Train on King Street West, Toronto

4. Find ways to reimagine our world

Crises like this one force us to determine what is most important in life. Just a few weeks ago, we were experiencing a society based largely on individualistic actions and systems. Today, we see acts of altruistic communal service that remind us what life can be like in a world where we take care of one another first.

Let’s find ways to reimagine our world — a world where the interdependence of all living things is central and celebrated.

The worst of COVID-19 may still be to come. But it’s not too early to see how this pandemic can help us determine ways to “recover better.” We can seize this opportunity to become more localized, densified and green.

  • Join youth-led climate movements online. Last year, young people worldwide organized one of the largest global mobilizations in history. While social distancing has curtailed some of the activities they had planned this spring, it hasn’t stopped them! Find a group in your home community and ask how you can support them online. Follow Climate Strike Canada, Fridays for Future Canada and Our Time for more info.
  • Support a green recovery. Send your message to Ottawa to rebuild after COVID-19 by creating jobs that will protect nature and the climate. They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Let’s make sure the new day is a greener one.
  • Find hope in communities that care. We’re buoyed by stories of people making a difference, envisioning the future they want to see and working to make it a reality. Take inspiration from the Charged Up library, which is full of stories from communities throughout the country, where people are working to build healthy, equitable, sustainable futures.

Read our latest reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic

We are facing an enormous challenge. Although at times the uncertainty may leave us feeling anxious or discouraged, we can rest assured that we always have each other.

Our hearts go out to those directly affected by this global pandemic. Our deepest gratitude is for those tireless professionals working on the front lines to keep everyone healthy and safe. Thank you.

Thank you also to the everyday heroes who are reaching out to the vulnerable people in their families and communities with offers of much-needed support. When we take collective actions toward the common good, we’re all better for it.

And though difficulty and hardship are inevitable with COVID-19, the urgency of the pandemic has shown us our capacity to come together and mobilize around a common goal. We have never been more unified in overcoming an obstacle.

In that spirit, please enjoy some of these reflections from Foundation staff and experts.