Recreate Responsibly: Camping Edition

Ahhh sweet summertime.  One of our favorite things to do in the summer is to camp.  There’s nothing better than loading up all of the gear for some time in the woods, in the mountains, or by the water.  Whether you are an experienced camper or are trying it for the first time, it’s never a bad idea to remind ourselves how to be a responsible and respectful camper.  From setting up a campfire to chatting with our friends and family under the stars, we’re a part of the natural environment around us.  The great people at have put together some tips and reminders on how to make the most of your time in the woods.

We’ve highlighted our favorite four tips below, and you can read them all here:

Are you camping this summer?  Where ya going?

The Science behind HPHP

Say what?!  There is science involved in this simple app that I use to log my outdoor activity? 

Yes, it’s true.  The HPHP model was developed using the concepts of Behavior Change Psychology (BCP).  One of the BCP gurus, B.J. Fogg, explains that “Behavior (B) happens when Motivation (M) , Ability (A) and Triggers (T) come together at the same moment.

Behavior change psychology may sound a little “out there,” but it is simple and effective.  Behavior Change involves setting a goal, taking small steps to achieve that goal, keeping that goal even if you fail sometimes, and rewarding yourself. 

With each outdoor activity that you record with our app you earn points. As your points rack up, you can redeem them for physical rewards.  Slowly, and possibly without even realizing, you will start to see that “behavior change” in your life!  Small steps can lead to BIG CHANGE!  Some of our HPHP users have reported losing weight, battling depression, and reducing medication needed.

Our hope is that eventually the appeal for an external reward falls away, and that our users create lifelong habits and receive those irreplaceable internal rewards.

Be Well!

Have you tried Forest Bathing?

Forest bathing?  I will admit, I was quite confused the first time I heard this term.  However, I got the chance to experience forest bathing first-hand this past Fall at a conference in Colorado.

Forest Bathing, “Shinrin-Yoku” in Japan, is the practice of immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way, using your senses to derive a whole range of benefits for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health.  “Shinrin” means forest and “Yoku” stands for bathing.  The idea took birth in Japan in the 1980’s and proved to be a very effective tool in overcoming the ill effects of a hectic life and a stressful work environment.

Connecting with nature allows the stressed portions of your brain to relax.  Positive hormones are released in the body.  You feel less sad, angry, and anxious.  It helps to avoid stress and burnout, and aids in fighting depression and anxiety.

Certain trees like conifers emit oils and phytoncides to safeguard themselves from microbes and pathogens,  These molecules improve our immunity too!  Breathing in the forest air boosts the level of natural killer (NK) cells in our blood.  NK cells are used in our body to fight infections, cancers and tumors.  Nature connections also strengthen emotional intelligence and self-confidence, leading to improved relationships and better social health.

The main principles are to go in silence and go slow.  Use your senses to find things in nature that bring you peace and happiness. 

Here are some tips to start your forest bathing practice:

  • The recommended time for forest bathing is at least 2 hours a week.
  • 20-30 minutes of relaxed time among trees provides you with multiple health benefits.
  • 3 hours a week of nature exposure allows our body to function at its optimum, sustaining health benefits for up to a week after.
  • Choose a Sit Spot.  This is a place you can visit frequently without too much effort.  Your aim is to visit daily, if possible, and to sit quietly.
  • Go Wandering.  This is a version of Shinrin-Yoku that is quite simple.  Go to a place where there are paths you can follow easily and simply wander.  Be relaxed, move slowly, and be attentive.

You can look for a Certified Forest Therapy Guide in your area and gather more info at:

Year-End Reflections from the Director

Happy Holidays to the wonderful HPHP community!  This month marks my three-year anniversary with HPHP and I simply cannot believe how time has flown.  Here at the end of an incredible and eventful year for HPHP, I thought I would tell you a little more about myself and give a fun recap of the past three years.

Funnily enough, my background is in architecture.  I practiced as an architect for many years before leaving to work in community development and wellness.  I like to joke that, as an architect, I used to spend my days designing buildings and now I spend my days encouraging people to leave the buildings and get outside!  I first became involved with HPHP in December 2019, just before the world shut down.  Before that, I worked for another Tennessee non-profit wellness organization, through which I already knew about the incredibly cool HPHP program.  I used the HPHP app myself!  The first Reward I earned was the athletic t-shirt.

My husband and I have three children and live in my hometown in middle Tennessee.  Before we had kids, we used to joke and say to each other “What if our future children don’t like the outdoors and to do the things we like to do?”  As it turns out, we were blessed with two reluctant outdoorsy children. 😊 We like to laugh about our oldest daughter’s famous quote: “The thing I don’t like about hiking is all that walking.”  After lots of trial and error (and trail tantrums), we finally found that mountain biking is an activity that we all love.  We have had fun growing our skills and visiting trails all over the southeast lately.

When I began working for HPHP there were around 3,000 app users.  Today we have over 11,000!  Here are some more fun HPHP stats from the last 3 years:

  • 339,115 activities logged on the app from December 2019 – December 2022
  • 3,250 rewards earned in that same timeframe!
  • The top 3 activities logged are: Go for a Walk, Go for a Run, Go for a Hike
  • The month with the most activities logged was October 2020 with 14,590 activities logged!

This October I had the opportunity to attend the SH/FT Summit in Fort Collins, Colorado.  It has been incredibly eye-opening to finally get to attend state and national events, and to learn from others doing incredible work in the “Nature-as-Medicine” community.  It was a bonus that we learned that HPHP was the SH/FT award winner while I was there!

The SH/FT Summit was focused on the crossroads of Health and the Outdoors and was the perfect place for us to promote Healthy Parks Healthy Person and learn from others doing similar work across the country.  Here are some highlights:

  • Healthy equity = nature access!
  • Much of what we focus on is how to make the healthier choice the easier choice.
  • There is evidence for a “Nature Pyramid” much like the Food Pyramid.
  • Some cities and other placed-based entities are creating Trails Health Calculator Tools to measure the impact of trails on population health.
  • The movement of utilizing the outdoors as a conduit to health is turning into a groundswell and is spreading like wildfire across the country and globe!

You have probably read the recent news that, as of July 1, HPHP has transitioned outside of Tennessee State Parks and is now a 501c3 non-profit!  This is exciting and a little bit scary too.  It is exciting because it means the program is working and needs more freedom to continue to grow and serve our state!  It is a little bit scary as we leave the comfortable nest of support that Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation provided us.  As I look back, I am ever so grateful that Ryan and Tennessee State Parks took a chance on this program, and on me.  Looking forward, I know big things are coming and I am so grateful to have you all on the ride with me!

Happy Holidays, and we will see you in 2023!

Much love,

How Nature Helped This Postpartum Mama (and baby) Stay Sane

Being pregnant and having a child is such a blessing. I am very thankful for the amount of help and support I had during and after my pregnancy. But I will say one thing…… the 4th trimester is very hard. I was still recovering, having hardly any sleep, having a newborn and toddler to take care of. It can take a toll on anyone, just like it did on me.

However, for this pregnancy and postpartum I was more educated on certain things. One of those things is how wonderful and healthy it is to get outside during this time. According to the University of Pennsylvania, one in nine mothers experience postpartum depression. I was one of those mothers. I experienced postpartum depression after both of my pregnancies, but more so after my first pregnancy.

Every day, even if only for 5 minutes, I would try to step outside to soak up the sunshine or take a walk. I wanted/needed to get outside to take a deep breath of fresh air. It was relaxing for both me and my mind. Getting outside and getting out in nature can be so rewarding for both me and the kids.

Eugenia South, an assistant professor for Perelman School of Medicine, stated, “Nature can be leveraged as a health-equity tool, both in terms of making sure everyone has access to clean, safe green space but also encouraging people to spend time outside as a way to buffer life stress,” she says. “Nature isn’t a cure-all, but it can be a potential buffer, a way to prevent life stress from getting under your skin and leading to poor health over time.”

But getting outside into nature with my toddler and my newborn was very important to me. I know my toddler loves being outdoors, but my newborn can benefit from it too! The fresh air, sunlight, sounds, and sights are all good for his developmental skills.

“Babies thrive out-of-doors. They sleep better, eat better, look better, play better, and learn better. – Magda Gerber

All-in-all, getting outdoors and into nature can help a postpartum momma and children. Never hesitate to ask for help and take moments for yourself (if possible) where you can clear your mind and breathe.


Leave NO Trace

What does that mean? Why is it important?


Imagine your childhood. Think about when you would play outside for hours on end. Maybe your favorite camping trip. Your favorite hiking trail. Or your favorite park to visit.


We never really had to (or currently have to) think or worry about the wilderness disappearing — it is always there when we want to go outdoors. This is now, however, a worry that we have for our future generations. “Leave No Trace” quite literally means that if you go outdoors, you need to aim to leave no trace of you being there. One common misconception that we tend to think is “well I am just one person and cannot make a difference.” The problem is that when everyone has that mentality, then it actually does make a big difference. If we can shift this mentality to “I will do my part to leave no trace”, then this will also make a huge POSITIVE difference.


The Seven Principles


(1) Plan ahead and Prepare

  • Research the regulations for where you are planning to visit. Most give specific instructions for what you can bring, where you can go, or how long you can stay.
  • Minimize waste by repackaging your food beforehand.
  • If backpacking, consider taking a lightweight backpack stove for one pot meals instead of using a fire to Leave No Trace. One pot meals and light snacks create the least amount of waste, so take that into consideration when planning out your trip.

(2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • This means to travel on designated trails or camp on where vegetation is absent such as: designated campsites, rock, gravel, sand, dry grasses or snow. The goal is to minimize the damage as much as possible by not altering the natural areas. Keep the sites small and if you move rocks or twigs to camp, make sure to move them back before you leave.
  • Make sure to camp at least 200 ft from a water source, such as lakes, ponds, streams, or rivers.
  • Stay on designated trails! If you are traveling with a group, make sure to walk single file through the trails and not disturb the unmarked areas. This also includes when it is muddy! It is important not to expand the trail, so if need be, walk through the mud.

(3) Dispose of Waste Properly

  • If you brought it in, you NEED to bring it out. This means trash, leftover food, or litter. I know that oftentimes we might think that throwing out an apple core or orange peel is okay because it’s “natural” and will decompose, but it is actually dangerous to wildlife because that will attract them to places they usually might not go (such as campsites) or food they do not eat in the wild. A raccoon’s diet does not consist of leftover BBQ and baked beans, but when it’s tossed on the ground, they will begin sticking around the area because they know there will be food that they do not need to hunt for.
  • Yes.. human waste does fall into this category. If you can, use the facilities whenever possible, but we understand that sometimes you will not have the luxury of using a toilet when you’re 5 miles deep in a trail. In this case, you will want to make a cathole at least 200ft from a water source, campsite, or trails to avoid contaminating the water and possibly spreading diseases. This entails digging about a 6″x 6″ hole, doing your business, and covering it back up with the original soil.
  • Make sure to bring a bag of some sort to pack out the toilet paper or any hygiene products you might have used or bury it in the cathole if biodegradeable.
  • This also applies to your pet’s droppings. Other animals eat dog poo, which exposes them to bacteria.
  • When washing dishes or yourself, make sure to be 200ft away from a water source and use the least amount of biodegradable soap as possible. When you are done washing your dishes, scatter the water so that it does not all accumulate in one spot. Even though the soap is biodegradable, it is still a foreign substance to that area.

(4) Leave What You Find

  • I know a leaf, rock, or flower might be beautiful or very unique, but it is important to leave the natural, cultural, and historic structures, objects or artifacts. You might think that by taking one or two wouldn’t make a difference, but if everyone who visited that area had the same mindset, then that one or two flowers actually turns into 20 to 30 being picked or taken. It is also illegal to take natural objects in most protected places.
  • It is also VERY important not to introduce/transport non-native species. This typically results in an invasive species that will take over the native area because it has no natural predators. Kudzu, Privet, and some species of honeysuckle are invasives that were introduced to be used as an ornamental and to reduce soil erosion, but they took off spreading like wild fire. Some species from East Tennessee are not native to West Tennessee, so it is important not to take or introduce any species to the wild or even your home.
  • Take pictures instead of taking them.
  • Do not. Do not. Do not mark on trees.

(5) Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Try to switch to a lightweight stove for cooking instead of a campfire.
  • If you do build a campfire, remember, a true Leave No Trace campfire should leave no evidence. So make sure you make a small fire, using dead or down wood that can be broken. If there is a fire ring established, make sure to use it.
  • “Buy it where you burn it.” You should buy firewood at a local source or gather it where it is allowed. You should NOT bring any from your home or anywhere that is not the area that you are camping.
  • Know the fire restrictions in the area you are at and the time of year you are planning on going.

(6) Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance and stay quiet while observing.
  • Do not touch or feed wildlife. If you come across a wounded or sick animal, you need to notify a ranger or game warden, but do not tend to it yourself.
  • Do NOT toss your food scraps. This attracts wildlife to areas, which will lead to them relying on non-native food and also creating a false sense that human interactions are safe.
  • When you are camping, make sure to set up at least 200ft from a water source because the water source should be left undisturbed as much as possible for the animals that use it.
  • Remember, you are a visitor in THEIR home.

(7) Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Make sure to manage your pet if you decide to take them with you!
  • Treat others as you would want to be treated.
  • Avoid contributing to noise pollution as much as possible- includes talking loudly, playing music out loud, traveling in large groups, using electronics that makes sound.
  • Consider traveling during the off seasons to avoid running into large groups on holidays or busy weekends. This allows you to have more privacy, as well as making less impact on the area you are visiting.

In order for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors, we all need to learn how to take care of it. We all have a responsibility to preserve and protect it so that future generations will be able to experience the wilderness as we once did. So on your next trip to the wilderness, remember to LEAVE NO TRACE!


Check out more about Leave No Trace here.

Trail Running 101

Trail running is an excellent way to get in an intense workout while incorporating nature. It is a great alternative to road running. Not only is it a great for cardio, but it is also good for building endurance, strength, and agility… and who doesn’t like great scenery and fresh air while doing so? For one, it adds difficulty to your typical run with fluctuating elevation and natural obstacles, but also the surface is softer than concrete so it has less impact on your joints and with the varying terrain, you increase your speed and strength. For those of you just starting or new to trail running, here are a few tips and recommendations for when you decide to get out on a trail!


Let’s Get Started!


  • Research the trail.  Every trail is different so it is important to get an idea of what to expect, especially if it’s your first time trail running. Some resources like AllTrails and Tennessee State Park finder websites offer a trail finder so that you can find the right trail for you in your area! Find a map and study what the trail looks like, how long it is, where it goes through, and what other trails it connects to.
  • Determine length (by distance or time). If this is your first trail run, prepare to tire quicker than your normal run. While you might be used to running on the track or paved road, trail running adds terrain and potential obstacles like mud, roots, rocks, and fluctuating elevation. This adds more difficulty than what you might be used to, so consider opting for a trail with shorter distance to get the feel of it first! You could also consider running for time instead of distance at first so that you can further assess how you feel at a certain distance on the trail. This will allow you to determine what kind of pace you would like to keep vs the distance traveled.
  • Send someone the deets. Run with a partner, group, dog, or at the very least, let someone know that you will be going on a trail run. Let them know how long you plan on being on the trail or when you plan on being finished. Make sure to bring your phone, especially if you are alone, just in case something happens, you can call for help.
  • But what should I wear? Wearing your usual running clothes (preferably moisture-wicking material) will work just fine for trail running, but be prepared to possibly get them dirty just in case. As for your shoes, as a beginner, you will want to have something with good tread. After your first few trail runs, if you decide you would like to continue, then you should invest in some trail running shoes. They are typically a little beefier, with more tread than the normal running shoe, giving it more stability and protection. You also should consider wearing an insect repellent and even sunscreen if you know that a portion of the trail is uncovered and in the open.
  • What should I bring? What you bring really depends on how long you plan your trail run to be. If you plan on being out an hour/hour and a half, at the very least, bring water. It is always handy to carry a small, lightweight first aid kid or pocketknife.  If you are planning on going for a few hours, you should take a small bag or waist-pack to carry some water (whether it be handheld, hydration pack, etc.), small first aid kit, snack (granola bar, gels, chews, etc), and map of the trail.
  • Warm up before going on the run. Listen to your body and prevent injuries! Before going for your run you can warm up by doing some arm circles, leg swings, walk around on your toes (wake up those Achilles), hop in place, walking lunges, heel to butt, knee to chest, and start off with a jog.
  • Take it step by step. If you feel uncomfortable running uphill, through mud, or across rocks, don’t be afraid to just walk through it. You will build confidence the more you are out running the trails and this will take time! It can also be very tempting to look around at the beautiful nature surrounding you; however, it is important to keep your eyes on the trail. You will be in the wild so keeping an eye out for roots, sudden drops, or even snakes will be very important to avoid injury! That being said, it is best to look about 10ft in front of you, instead of straight down, that way you will see what is coming.
  • Trail Etiquette: only run on designated trails;  respect wildlife – do not disturb animals or nature; don’t litter – if you brought it in, you can bring it out; share the trail – when coming up on someone, make sure to let them know you are there by saying something like “on your left” or “hello” so that you do not startle them; if coming across a biker or horseback rider, the hiker yields to them; the uphill hiker has the right away vs. the downhill hiker;  keep your dog on a leash unless the area allows unleashed dogs;
  • Safety tips: always follow proper trail etiquette and park guidelines to avoid injury or getting lost; know what the dangers are in your area; learn about bear safety; know what to expect when encountering a snake and snake safety; wear bright colors if it is hunting season; Know your limits – if you need a break, take a break;  always check the weather radar; always carry more water than you think you need

Remember, go at your own pace. It might take a few runs to get your routine down on how far you want to go, how intense, what to bring, or what shoes to wear, but all you need to do is START! And most importantly, have fun and stay safe on the trails!

Summer Safety Tips 101

Summer will be here before we know it! While this summer might look a little different than previous summers due to COVID-19, there are still many outdoor activity days ahead! You still need to follow the guide lines and regulations for COVID-19 like avoiding traveling when not necessary, washing your hands frequently, wearing a face-mask in public, and keeping 6 feet apart; however, there are still ways to social distance while enjoying the summer! Tennessee is absolutely beautiful and should be explored, so when you do, here are few things you should keep in mind when heading out!


Sun Protection. Sun Protection. SUN PROTECTION.


The summer usually brings people outdoors, so protecting your skin from sun damage is super important! Wear sunscreen and sunglasses folks. Cover up using lightweight, breathable clothing, stay in the shade, and plan around the sun as much as possible! Practice wearing at least 15 SPF sunscreen (shoot for 15-50+ SPF). It protects you from UV rays, prevents skin coloration and premature aging, and most importantly, reduces your chances of skin cancer (which is one of the most common cancers in the US). Just because you do not burn easily DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE IMMUNE TO SUN DAMAGE. Everyone is at risk, so make sure to apply it every two hours when outdoors, especially on your kids! Don’t forget to put it on your ears and lips – they can burn too!


Staying Hydrated


Summer brings the heat and humidity, especially in Tennessee. Staying hydrated during this time is so important! Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Make sure to drink water BEFORE feeling thirsty, so keeping a bottle of water with you will help encourage you to drink regularly, especially if you’re out in the sun. Create a water drinking schedule if you think that will help or eat H2O packed foods like celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, spinach, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and grapefruit. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion or a heat stroke, so make sure to take it seriously!


Heat Exhaustion


Stay cool, heat exhaustion is no joke! This happens when your body is overheated and has lost an excessive amount of water and salt due to sweating. This is why it is important to stay hydrated, take breaks during physical activity outdoors, and make sure to not leave anyone (or your pets) in a car. If you see someone or an animal in a hot car, immediately call 911. When heat exhaustion occurs, the symptoms/signs typically will be feeling weak, nauseous, moist skin, muscle cramps, headache, and have a rapid heart rate. If this happens, the best thing to do is move the person into shade, give them water, and cool them down with damp cloths. If not treated, heat exhaustion can turn into a heat stroke, which would need immediate medical attention. When this occurs, the person will have a body temperature above 103 degrees, dry and flushed skin, confusion, rapid breathing, and convulsions/unresponsiveness. If you think someone is having a heat stroke, call 911, move them to cool place, and remove unnecessary clothing. Heat exhaustion can affect any and all ages so everyone needs to make sure to stay hydrated and cooled down in the hot summer sun.


Water Safety


Swimming during the summer is one of the best ways to have fun and cool off from the hot sun, whether it be a pool, lake, or river. Before going swimming, especially with children, you need to know about water safety. You and/or your children should learn water safety and swimming skills as soon as possible.  If you have your own pool, it would be best to put up some safety precautions like having a fence around the pool, keeping flotation devices near the pool, install drain covers, and have proper “no diving” signage. If your child is swimming, make sure to keep your eye on them, EVEN if they know how to swim (lifeguards are not babysitters). You should never swim alone and also should not leave your child unattended while swimming, even if it is for a couple of minutes. Drownings can occur at any age, but the younger, the greater the risk. They are also usually quiet, unlike in movies where you hear yelling and splashing. Never dive in a shallow area or in an area that you are unsure of the depth. You should learn  CPR and basic rescue skills just in case you are around when a drowning occurs. Taking the boat out is also a great way to enjoy the great outdoors. Each state has different rules and regulations when it comes to public waters so make sure to learn about boating safety and swimming around boats before you get out on the water! Children 12 years old and younger MUST wear a personal flotation device that is a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket while on the open deck of any boat and ALL vessels must have an approved life jacket for EVERY person on board, no matter the age. If you are swimming in natural water (ocean, river, etc.) and get caught in a current, you would need to stay calm and not fight it, just float with it or swim parallel to shore. Having fun in water can be one of the best experiences, but even the best swimmer can make a mistake, so knowing some water safety skills is imperative!


Bites and Stings


No one is a fan of being stung or bit by an insect, so what do you need to watch out for if you do? Mosquito bites themselves do not particularly hurt; however, mosquitoes can carry and spread the Zika virus and West Nile virus to other people through biting. Ticks also can pass along Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and the Alpha-gal red meat allergy. Specifically, the red meat allergy comes from the bite of a Lone Star tick which has a white dot on its back. This does NOT mean that you will contract these diseases from every mosquito or tick bite, but it is something that you should be aware of and watch for if you or your family member does get bit. Make sure to check yourself for ticks after exploring the outdoors. If you do find a tick on yourself or family member, use tweezers to take the tick off. When going outdoors, make sure to wear an insect repellent (preferably one that contains DEET). Wear light colored clothing, long sleeved shirts, or long pants when possible. Avoid walking barefoot; this makes it easy for ticks to crawl on you or for you to get stung by a bee or wasp. If you do happen to get stung, remove the stinger using gauze to wipe over the area or by scraping a fingernail over the area, wash the the area with soap and water, and put an ice-pack on the area if it begins to swell. If know you are allergic to a bee or wasp, be prepared and carry an EpiPen (Epinephrine auto injector). If someone allergic around you does get stung, immediately call 911, administer the EpiPen if available, be prepared to give CPR if necessary while waiting for EMS.


The summer is one of the best seasons, especially for the kids on summer break! Have fun and explore the great outdoors while staying safe!


Healthy Parks Healthy Person TN does not want to reinvent the wheel when it comes to taking care of your health.  There are plenty of people who have already worked hard to bring you resources to improve your health.  Here are just a few that you might find useful:


What Do I Do Now?….. Quarantine Style

Many of us are going on a few weeks of quarantining at home due to COVID-19. I am sure you have been able to catch up on all your favorite TV shows, clean the house for the hundredth time, or have attempted to keep the kids occupied while they are out of school. This post is here to help you stay positive and spark some interest in you all who have found yourselves bored, tired, unmotivated or  depressed since being quarantined. It is time to switch it up, try something new, learn a new skill, find different ways to boost your mood, and/or educate your kids.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” 

-Maya Angelou

 Stay Positive


  • Positive gratitude… Instead of focusing on what you currently can’t do, where you can’t go, or who you can’t see, focus on what you do have. Be grateful that you are able to get up each morning, that you have the ability to go outside, that you have a healthy family, that you are able to feed yourself and/or family, that you have a home, that you still have a job, or whatever it may be. BE GRATEFUL. In these hard times, we need to focus on the GOOD, not the bad or what we cannot control.
  • Keep a Routine… Though your normal, pre-quartantine routine has most likely been changed, you can create a new one for the time being. Remember that our current situation is temporary, but it is our new “normal” for now. Keeping a routine will help you feel more in control, less stressed and also help clear your head. Set a time to get up, to eat, to workout, to work, to watch your show (not all day), to play, to teach the kids or however you want your day to go! Create a schedule and stick to it! It will help!
  • Focus on the long term instead of short term…  Make goals for when we no longer have to be homebound. Reflect on yourself and determine what you really want in the next few months and/or years. Come up with a list that you want to accomplish in a month, 6 months, a year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. These can be as simple as “go to a state park at least 2 times a month” or as ambitious as “become the CEO of the company by…”. By creating these goals, you are able to escape our current situation and focus on what you want your future to hold and determine HOW to get there.
  • Surround yourself with positive people… Due to the current regulations to minimize travel and to encourage social distancing, do not physically go to other people’s houses or meet up. Instead, call them, Face time, Message, or use Zoom to contact them. Let your friends and family know that you are thankful for them. Having people in your life that can brighten your day (especially under current circumstances) or help escape the negativity that is broadcasted every day will help alleviate the anxiety, anger, loneliness, or just boredom that you might be feeling.  There is already so much going on in the world that you don’t need to have someone else bringing you down or making you feel even worse than before. On that note, YOU also do not want to be that negative person in someone else’ life. Be grateful and pass that optimism along to the next person.
  • When in doubt, listen to music that brightens your mood… Music is a powerful tool that can help turn your mood around. It is perfect to have playing when you’re cleaning, working out, cooking, dancing or playing with your kids outside.

What To Do When You’re All Out Of Ideas


  • Exercise physically and mentally… THIS. IS. A. MUST. For one, you are most likely way less active than you were pre-quarantine so you could most definitely use the movement right now. Secondly, exercising is a stress reliever and for some, a normal routine. Just because gyms are closed DOES NOT mean you cannot get in a good work out. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out some of these online classes for home workoutsHIIT workouts, YogaBoxingDancing or Stretching! If you can’t get yourself motivated to do a workout then aim for at least 30 minutes of MOVEMENT a day. This doesn’t mean you have to do burpees, but maybe 30 minutes of cleaning around the house, stretching, gardening, or a short walk around the neighborhood. Just get moving!!!
  • Fun family activities… backyard camping, backyard drive-in, bird watch, reading bingo, card games, board games (teach them chess, dominoes, and checkers), obstacle courses, charades, perform experiments instructed by Bill Nye the science guy, explore the Smithsonian resources , make your own hand soap, work on fine motor skills, make slime, explore outdoors
  • Jump back into or develop a new skill or hobby
    • Take up gardening, journaling, cross stitching, whittling, make a vision board, learn another language, work on a puzzle, get back into painting, try candle-making, crochet a blanket, cook those recipes you have been waiting to try, make a loaf of bread, learn to juggle
  • Have you organized the Tupperware and junk drawer/closet yet?… Maybe it is time to finally check that off the list!

During this time of uncertainty, keeping a positive, active mind and body are imperative. Make sure to limit the amount of time you spend on social media or watching the news. This will just cause more anxiety and is unnecessary. Have a routine to keep some normality in your/your families life. Try out some of these ideas out! At the very least, it will get you off the couch and trying something different!