Picnics are this Summer’s Antidote to Lockdown Living
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a shift in the way many Brits have lived their lives. Lockdown restrictions saw the public confined to their homes for up to 23 hours a day, with exercise and outdoor activities restricted to a bare minimum and within a small radius from an individual’s residence. As of Monday, 1st of June, these restrictions were relaxed, now allowing members of the public to travel further afield and to meet with up to 6 people from another household (whilst still abiding by the 2-meter social distancing rules.) The relaxing of lockdown, in addition to the remaining foreign travel bans in place by many countries, has moved much of the UK to spending more time out and about in their local countryside or open spaces, and appreciating nature in a way that they had not previously.
The return to nature that many of the public are taking part in highlights the need for public and green spaces, allowing groups to meet in open areas and enjoy the company of friends and family they may not have seen in person for several months. Spending time outdoors has also been linked to general wellbeing. During the first weekend of the relaxed rules, beaches, parks and open areas were flooded with people, and although it still stands to be seen how this will affect the pandemic in the long run, it highlights a clear need for these spaces to be available to allow for social activities that have clearly been missed.
A 2019 Government survey found that spending as little as 120 minutes a week outdoors and in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing, so it should come as little surprise that the excess time spend indoors during the lockdown led to a general increase in stress and anxiety levels for many. The return to the outdoors should be seen as essential and encouraged as part of the return to the ‘new normal’ for the British public, and as more families and individuals are venturing out to explore and appreciate Britain’s open spaces and the countryside it would seem that the public feels the same way.
National Picnic Week, which runs from 22nd to 28th of June may be one way to help get Brits outdoors and support the transition towards whatever may be the new way of life in a post-COVID UK. Encouraging individuals to spend more time outside, where safe and possible, and to embrace the British Summer with loved ones. The return to the local community, now appreciated as more important than ever, will play a key role in this, and taking the opportunity to travel to nature reserves and parks, where possible, to appreciate what has been out of reach for the past months will be equally as important in the ‘new normal.’
We’ve been shut indoors for too long; something as simple as a picnic could be the first step towards bringing us back together.