We want to let you know that we are thinking about all of you during these difficult and uncertain times. And we want to share what we are doing in response and offer some thoughts on how we all can cope with feelings of stress that many of us are feeling right now.
First, we want to assure you that this crisis isn’t stopping us from doing our important work to protect our environment. Even though our offices are now closed in both Toronto and Ottawa, we are still working together with all of our partners in society. Like many of you, we are now working remotely to help flatten the curve. And we are taking full advantage of electronic means to stay in touch with each other.
We will be hosting virtual (instead of in-person) meetings, working on long-standing research projects, completing new educational materials, and providing advice to governments. During the next few weeks, we will also keep in touch with our supporters online by providing useful information on topics like cleaning products, disposable plastics, healthy water, and the value of natural areas.
All of us at Environmental Defence support and applaud the Canadian and international public health officials who are guiding us all on the appropriate actions that we should take right now. We also want to thank front line health care providers and all of you across the country who are doing your part to slow the virus’ spread and help out people in your communities.
Nature has the power to calm us during difficult times
We also want to recognize that what we are all seeing on the news makes us stressed and fearful. And while stress can help us be more aware and make better decisions, it can also be exhausting and debilitating if it goes on for a long time and is not interspersed with periods of relaxation and recovery. For this reason, we want to encourage you all to seek out ways to safely get out of your homes to visit places that will make you mentally and physically healthier.
Research has shown that being out in forests and trees has a number of measurable benefits which include: improved immune system response; lower blood pressure; reduced stress; improved mood; increased ability to focus (even in children with ADHD); accelerated recovery from illness; increased energy level and improved sleep.
Being in natural areas does not have to be deep in the wilderness, which is hard or impossible for many urban dwellers, but also can include smaller neighbourhood or urban areas such as ravines, hiking trails, river-side corridors etc. When you are out in these areas you will be able to maintain recommended distances from other people while receiving the calming and relaxing benefits of being in nature. So get outside if you can and let nature help you be stronger.
Thank you from all of us
We also want to thank all of you for your continued support and for remembering how, perhaps more than ever, protecting our environment is so important. Access to nature, stopping climate change, preventing plastic pollution, eliminating toxic chemicals and safeguarding fresh water will all help us get through this difficult time and ensure that we build toward a recovery that is best for society.
Part of creating that better future is coming together now as members of our respective communities. We can all have a positive impact by taking care of each other and helping out our neighbours in times of need (see this blog from one of my colleagues for some inspiration). From all of us at Environmental Defence, we hope that you and your loved ones stay safe.
Together, we will get through this.
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