Bring The Outside In: for those in quarantine

-watercolor by Stacie Lee

Birds sing happily
Oblivious to crisis
Can I be a bird? 

-a social distancing haiku by Joseph Kraus



When life feels stressful, I like to time-travel in my mind as a form of meditation. I pick a reasonable time, based on an educated guess, when I believe that the source of the stress will be behind me/us, and I imagine what that more normal day will feel like. It is usually one that ends with an exclamation right before bed: “Where did the freakin’ day go.” And then I park the discomfort in one corner of my head and focus on the path forward. I learned this trick from years of distance running outdoors: there is no hiding from the discomfort, there is interest and curiosity in being present with your surroundings, and there is strength gained from making it through.

Whether you are a little under the weather or have put yourself under a self-quarantine because you think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, here is a guide to bring the outdoors inside and find a little peace.

Be Artsy Crafty

  • Make paper masks of animals, either from templates or from scratch.
  • Use old magazines, crayons and markers, construction paper, and paint to create nature scenes to hang around the apartment.
  • Use objects from the recycle bin, old games, toy chest, and medicine cabinet to create a nature-themed board game. If you need inspiration, think about the rules and structure of the games you like to play the most.


Observe Backyard Nature

  • Become a citizen naturalist by documenting the wildlife you see from your window. What birds do you see? What do they look like? What do they sound like? Are they alone or in a group? What are they doing? What time of day do you see them and what is the weather like? If you have a pair of binoculars, even better (but please don’t creep on the human neighbors). When the world gets back to its regular programming, explore more ways to become a citizen naturalist in order to assist local scientists, using guidance from
  • Become a nature journalist. Draw natural settings that you see outside of your window, or if you live in more urban areas, try illustrating while watching nature videos online or browsing bird and plant guides. Learn more about nature journaling and field sketching with this online course from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Academy.


Watch, Listen, Learn

  • Netflix has lots of options to visit the outdoors, while sitting on your couch. Some of my favorites: Mission Blue is about Sylvia Earl’s inspiring work to save the world’s oceans. Our Planet takes you through jungles, deserts, and icy landscapes. Learn about how diverse species survive in some of the harshest conditions in Wild¬†Alaska.
  • Learn bird calls by listening to samples on the Cornell Lab’s All About Birds website. Research birds for your region, listen to their calls, and then have a roommate test your skills. Keep the neighbors wondering.


Share more ways you are bringing the outdoors in in the comments! Please stay healthy and safe.