“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” – Aristotle
The COVID lockdown may have you feeling cooped up, but a cure for cabin fever might be as simple as child’s play.
We know fresh air and exercise is good for body and mind at any age, but even more beneficial is engaging in recreational activity outdoors. This is more important than ever now virtual school and working from home is the new normal for many. It means we’re more dependent on technology and spend too many sedentary hours indoors.
Increased screen time may negatively impact our relationship to the beauty and wonder right outside our door. Not only is play time good for mental, physical and social development, it also improves cognition, communication skills and creativity which helps develop well rounded individuals. When immersed in playful outdoor activity we can gain a deeper connection to and concern for the natural resources that surround us. Sustainable play is a celebration of our natural landscape in ways that are whimsical and fun without negatively impacting the ecosystem where we live.
There are plenty of sustainable ways to engage in play and it’s a good idea to schedule recesses throughout the day to help build the healthy habit of getting outside regularly. The fresh air breaks will leave you feeling energized, refreshed and more focused for your return to school or work.
Few things awaken childlike wonder and curiosity like building a snowman (snow person). Upcycle old clothing and materials to outfit your Frosty and proudly display it in your front yard to spread cheer and inspire the neighbourhood. Your creativity may lead to a whole community of snow people, as Severn Township is showing us these days. Think outside the traditional three stacked balls of a snowman and express yourself by making a snow sculpture instead. Make it a family affair or even divide household members into teams for some friendly competition. Constructing a snow fort or maze is a great way for kids to learn to collaborate and communicate their ideas. Scavenger hunts encourage exploration and closer attention to our surroundings and the wildlife that inhabits it. Tobogganing can be excellent exercise and is guaranteed to bring big smiles to rosy cheeks.
You don’t always need a plan or structure to play. Combat feelings of stress by tapping into a more carefree, child-like spirit. Try lying on your back in the snow and looking up to the vastness of the sky and clouds floating by. Observe the birds singing in trees while squirrels defy gravity among their branches. Spark joy catching snowflakes on your tongue or give in to the playful urge to make snow angels. When we’re immersed in nature our appreciation for it grows organically along with the sense that we’re a part of, and not exclusive to, this big beautiful world in which we live.
If it can be said silver linings exist amid uncertainty and lifestyle upheaval brought on by the pandemic, then opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with nature is surely one of them, even if it is by default. Perhaps 2021 is the year we commit to enjoying more of our natural playground and, as a result, we hopefully strengthen our efforts to help conserve our planet.