The goal of the HIN Project is to encourage people to #GetOutside – or to use Nature to foster restoration and well-being. As we approach a year of living with cancellations, lockdowns, isolation, and distancing due to Covid-19, we thought we would practice what we preach. For the next few weeks, our staff will document their attempts at going to nature or bringing nature inside! Here is what we did in our first week.
On February 16th, Champaign IL received lots of snow which is not usual for my area! My partner and I decided to go for a walk and search for natural playgrounds. We went to Homer Lake and walked through the snow by their natural playscape and a trail near the lake. We were able to spend quality time together while enjoying the new snow. Spending time outside together always makes me feel more relaxed and gives me time away from the computer and office.
This week we finally got some nicer weather which made going outside a much more pleasant experience. I took advantage of the weather by taking a walk around the quad and other parts of campus with some friends and ended the excursion off by grabbing some bubble tea. It felt nice to leave my bulky winter coat, hat, and gloves at home for once and I’m hoping that’s something I get to do a lot more as spring gets closer and closer. I didn’t realize exactly how much I missed being able to comfortably walk outside and it felt like I was able to take in nature in a way I really hadn’t since winter started. When the sun is out I can physically feel my mood lighten and I just had more motivation to get work done. Although the weather was by no means hot, it did kickstart my excitement for summer and all the outdoor activities that come with warmer weather (and not to mention a break from schoolwork).
This week, I grabbed a fellow nature-lover and took a trip to the University of Illinois arboretum. Stories of an incredible sledding hill scattered the Google reviews, and let me tell you, it does not disappoint. As a 22 year old college student, a sled was unfortunately not on my list of things to bring to campus. Thankfully, Walmart has storage bins whose lids work just as well. With sides of varying size, visitors can enjoy whatever level of speed they desire. For those who seek a bit of a rush, the North side is the steepest ride. Finally, the top of the hill provided a great view of the surrounding area. Though I hope to return in the Spring to see the gardens, I can attest that a trek to the arboretum is well worth it even during a polar vortex.
Today, all my friends and I had a snowball fight and made snowmen although the snow was freezing cold and was turning into ice. I had a really stressful week and since the weather was bad all week I could not leave my dorm but the second the weather got a little better my friends and I planned a snowball fight. The snowballs were rock hard and I definitely gained a bruise here and there but over all a very needed break from my past stressful weeks. Pictured above are some of my friends and our snowman and a snowball I found in my hood after I came back.
During this last week I have brought back both nature and exercise in my life. I live by a creek that is about a mile long. It usually has many ducks and is full of trees. I haven’t been there ever since the second semester of school started. I was feeling down, so I decided to start running again. The creek was a great location to run because of the peaceful effects of the whole environment.
February 15- February 20
My roommates and I took advantage of the cold weather by going sledding at a nearby park about ten minutes from campus. Although my face went numb, I enjoyed our time outside on the hill together- picture a houseful of seniors in college sandwiching on top of each other and racing down a hill, it was quite the photo opportunity but none of us had brought our phones while we were in the snow. Later in the week, I was stressing about a paper I had to write so I bundled up in warm clothes and walked around campus. Going for walks by myself and listening to music has become the main form of how I destress and refocus my brain. Before the global pandemic, I never needed to actively go for walks in nature because I was always walking to and from classes and practice.
Friday, February 26th
On Friday I was feeling very anxious because I was stressing over the fact that I was receiving an email that day informing me on whether or not I got accepted into graduate school for Clinical Psychology. Because of this, I went for a walk around my neighborhood to help ease my mind. While on my walk I saw a pair of dogs that made me smile. Near the end of my stroll, I received an email notifying me that I had been accepted to grad school.
Saturday, February 27th
Saturday’s weather could not have been more perfect. The atmosphere of campus was very animated. There were people walking around and sitting on porches all day long. And on top of the beautiful weather and playful energy in the air, my Mom came down to school to visit my brother and I. We had a fun day hanging out with my roommates and grilling food under the sun.
Sunday, February 28th
Before my Mom left Sunday morning, we went for a walk to the Quad which was very enjoyable. Squirrels were out playing and birds were singing songs.
This week’s weather was extremely cold. Consistent snowfall and ice covered the sidewalks and streets. I was also very preoccupied this week; may I say drowning in school work. After attending my lectures and completing other daily school requirements, I was especially stressed for my first big exam in my human development and recreation course. To apply a source of nature in my routine, and reduce stress when I found needed, I decided to take breaks and color! I thoroughly enjoy an adult coloring book while listening to some music. And so far, I have colored one of my favorite places: Honolulu Hawaii! I have traveled to Hawaii before, and long to revisit once this pandemic subsides. Coloring is a creative way for me to appreciate the natural elements Hawaii has to offer even when being so far from reach. Coloring also allows me to regroup myself when taking breaks, and found that it was a creative way that relieved some of my stress. Not to mention at times I gained a sense of being away! I can happily say taking breaks to color throughout my week has helped me regroup mentally when stress levels felt high, and provided me a positive space through my stressful work-days.