After one week of isolation -- of working from home, eating from home, keeping myself busy -- I moved my workstation to the front room of my house that overlooks the street. And I was shocked to see … people. Lots of people.
I’m no stranger to working from home, I have done it for months before. And from my vantage point at the window, I would see the same four dogs on walks and maybe a few runners, if the weather was nice. But generally, my quiet suburban street is empty and quiet on a weekday. But these days, it’s busy. A steady stream of families, solo walkers, and couples, walking past my window. I’ve never seen our sidewalks so popular.
And this wasn’t just my neighborhood. I saw out-for-a-walk photos from friends and strangers on social media. All over the world. In my own little corner, I noticed neighbors I knew and some I’d never met. Whole families coming out of houses I thought were empty. And couples on longer walks from the next development over.
It makes sense, with gyms, organized sporting events, and classes closed for the next month, staying active in this time of quarantine means working with what you have. And a pair of sneakers and a sidewalk is readily available to all of us.
I wanted to give it a try. So after my next conference call, I strapped on my sneakers and went out to join them. At a 6 feet distance, of course. And here’s what I found out: Most people were ready to say a cheerful hello when we passed, the extent of our socializing these days. We’d thoughtfully cross the street, so we could maintain our recommended 6-feet of space. And I kept noticing families were all talking and, some, laughing.
But I also noticed that it’s still Spring, and delicate green buds are starting to develop on the trees lining the sidewalk. And my neighbor’s yards were changing from winter brown to almost green. And garden beds were starting to show signs of flower bulbs shooting up through the earth. The air seemed clearer and the sun felt warmer. I’ve obviously been spending too many hours indoors.
I was quickly reminded how important getting daily exercise is -- not only for my heart and body but also for my mood and emotional health. I didn’t realize how isolated I was feeling in my house all day, despite being on conference calls with coworkers and spending more time with my husband. Humans are social creatures, after all, and we crave being around people. But also, we’re all a little more anxious these days, and being in nature is a surefire way to feel more connected and calm.