As the season changes and the days get longer, it is a difficult time to be stuck indoors. As an avid outdoors-man, Lukas Politis believes that this is a crucial time to reconnect with nature whenever and however possible. Growing up in Pearl River, with many nearby hiking trails, Lukas Politis has always found peace in spending time outdoors and argues it is a great way to stay sane during the lockdown.
Limiting his outdoor activities to avoid crowded parks and trails, Lukas Politis is reminded of the important role that nature plays in physical and mental wellbeing. He is here to share how lockdown has affected his routine and relationship with nature, and how it has given him a new appreciation for life.
How has lockdown been for you so far?
So far the lockdown has presented its own set of challenges, forcing us all to adapt to new routines and circumstances. However, I have been doing my best to approach it from a positive perspective. I believe that being thrust into a situation that forces you to adapt is an excellent catalyst for personal growth, and it has the potential to lead you to discoveries both large and small that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
As an example, I am someone who cherishes their time spent outdoors in nature, and my typical weekly routine involves trips to some of our local parks. The lockdown forced me to adapt that routine, leading me on a search for natural spaces that are both still accessible and relatively devoid of other people. What initially seemed like an inconvenience has led me to the discovery of trails that I otherwise would not have had the initiative to seek out, and I can now view it as something that I am grateful for.
How often do you go outside?
Prior to the lockdown, I would say that I averaged about three to four outdoor activities in a week, whether that was a fishing trip, a bike ride, or a game of pickup. Since the lockdown, I have been making sure to spend some time outside every day, even if it is something as simple as going for a walk around the block. I may not always have the time to get away into nature, but so far I have found that even something as simple as a quick walk in the fresh air provides tremendous benefits to both my physical and mental health.
What is it about outdoor activities that you love?
One of the things I love the most about outdoor activities is that they provide dedicated time for me to disconnect from the chaos that modern life has a habit of injecting into our lives. The time spent barrelling down a mountain trail on a bike is time where my mind is free from concern about work, emails, social media, and deadlines. It is a time of tranquility but also invigoration – being surrounded by trees, birds, and fresh air is quite peaceful, while racing down a mountain trail on a bike gets your blood pumping and the adrenaline flowing. There are two rather opposite effects taking place, and yet they complement each other so well that by the time I have to get back to working indoors in front of a screen, I feel completely refreshed and refocused on my tasks.
How can nature help people during a pandemic?
Fresh air, exercise, and being surrounded by trees and other greenery are all well-documented ways of helping people cope with things like anxiety and depression. Since these mental health issues are some of the most cited as being associated with isolation and lockdown, I believe that making time to get outdoors in whatever capacity you are able to can help a lot of people in dealing with some of the negative aspects of the pandemic.
Have you always felt connected with nature? Why?
My connection with nature stretches back to my childhood. As long as I can remember, my parents have always encouraged me to spend my free time outdoors rather than inside in front of a screen. Family hikes, fishing trips, camping excursions, and organized sports have always been a part of my life, and are something that I attribute to my sense of feeling connected with nature.
What activities do you engage in outdoors?
I try not to limit myself in terms of what activities I engage in outdoors. Some of my favourites include mountain biking, fishing, hiking, and team sports, but I love the challenge and excitement of trying something new. Most recently a family member introduced me to cross-country skiing, something I probably never would have thought to try on my own as it never seemed all that appealing. However, after being encouraged to do so, I found it to be much more physically demanding than I had previously assumed, and that it offers a similar combination of tranquility and invigoration that mountain biking provides.
What advice would you give to someone having a hard time in lockdown?
There are a few things I would suggest people try if they are having a hard time during lockdown. The first would be, as discussed, finding some time every day to get outside of the house. Even a quick walk through your neighborhood provides you with some fresh air and exercise, and you may even experience the joy of discovering aspects of your city that you were previously unaware of.
The second thing I would recommend is scheduling time to have video calls with friends and family. Sharing a meal over Skype or Zoom, or trying your hand at a craft or hobby with someone through a screen is not quite as enjoyable as being able to do it in person, but it can be fun and provide some of the benefits of social engagement. The final bit of advice I would offer would be encouraging people to find some time for learning. Gaining a new skill or knowledge is an incredibly rewarding experience, and it can help stave off some of the negative thoughts and emotions related to isolation by fully engaging the brain with something new.