We’ve all been there. It’s normal to feel down in the dumps during the pandemic and looking for ways to enjoy life. The answer could be right outside your door. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a scientific field called ecotherapy shows a connection between the time you spend in nature and decreased stress, anxiety and depression. 

Get back to nature and have fun while improving your mental health along the way. Here are six tips for enjoying nature during a pandemic. 

1. Create a wildlife oasis

Brainstorm beyond gardening activities and create a wildlife oasis in your backyard. Look for specialty bird feeders and document what types of animals come by to explore your yard. Incorporating flowers, shrubs and trees will also attract wildlife looking for a refuge in your neighborhood. Water is also a must for your new critters. Deck-mounted bird baths and watering containers can help provide the hydration your new friends need.

2. Grab a mask when others are nearby

Before you start your adventure into the great outdoors, remember that other people will be doing the same. Bring along a mask to ensure your safety and those around you in case you hit crowds. And don’t forget to bring some for your whole family — you can find masks of all sizes and even kids’ KN95 masks from retailers like Green Supply. 

3. Make an outdoors bucket list

Grab the loved ones you’re riding out the pandemic with and make a nature bucket list. Choose destinations near and far from home that are realistic to explore with social distancing measures in place. Bring a powered-up phone for selfies and videos, as well as snacks and a picnic blanket to skip the restaurant and dining indoors.

4. Create an outdoor dining area

If you can’t get out and about to explore nature, consider creating an outdoor dining area in your own home. Choose your backyard, balcony or anywhere there’s space for a small table. Turn it into an event with an outdoor movie projector and sip wine while the sun goes down and the lightning bugs illuminate the sky.

5. Look for off-the-beaten-path options

It’s the perfect time to support state and national parks during the pandemic. However, they’ve also become increasingly popular as more people stay away from the indoors. According to an Airbnb and YouGov survey, 77 percent of respondents prefer to travel off the beaten track, and 44 percent prefer to travel to be close to nature.

Avoid the crowds by choosing off-the-beaten-path options. Going on a lazy weekday morning instead of a weekend can also offer more solitude in your hiking or wildlife viewing.

6. Make it social

Not every activity outdoors needs to be solitary or just with your small pod. The Mayo Clinic encourages people to take care of their physical and mental health by getting outdoors. One of their suggestions is to make it social by attending an outdoor fitness class. Yoga, spin cycling and aerobics can be done while safely distanced and with some great music to keep spirits high.

Don’t let the pandemic keep you from indulging in safe activities and enjoying nature responsibility. Make the most of your time with these ideas to keep you busy and satisfied.