It’s been over 10 months since California’s shelter-in-place and social distancing recommendations were put in place. For many, it’s been 10 months of working from home, 10 months of Zoom, 10 months of the same faces, and 10 months of the same four walls.
The monotony of the last 10 months has done more than just create boredom; it has led to a degradation of many individuals’ mental health.
Studies have shown that quarantine can lead to stress, anxiety and depression. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that college students in quarantine were most at risk to suffer mental health issues. Of students who participated in the study, 42% reported experiencing high levels of stress, severe distress, high levels of anxiety, severe depression or suicidal thoughts.
Getting outside can alleviate some of the mental health symptoms associated with extended quarantine. According to the Mayo Clinic, being outside can relieve tension, stress, anger and depression, while offering an overall boost to emotional health.
“I’ve been going to a lot of skate parks to get outside,” said Gerald Marcucci, a fine arts student at Orange Coast College. “It brings me back to that natural joy of childhood, being outside and doing something I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid.”
Getting outside with stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders in effect is not the problem it may seem to be. California’s shelter-in-place order allows for outdoor exercise providing individuals maintain social distancing requirements.
At the beginning of California’s shelter-in-place order all of Costa Mesa’s public parks were closed, but started opening again just over a month later.
“We shut down parks out of an abundance of caution,” said Tony Dodero, Costa Mesa’s Public Information Officer. “Since then, there's been no call from the state to shut down parks where there was previously.”
Rules and recommendations from the CDC and local health departments have changed as we have learned more about COVID-19 and the way the virus spreads. It is now common knowledge that the virus has trouble spreading outdoor spaces while social distancing and wearing a mask.
Going outside and visiting public parks is considered a low-risk activity as long as social distancing is maintained. The CDC has issued the following guidelines to mitigate COVID-19 infection risks while using public parks and outdoor spaces:
- Wear a mask.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
- Visit parks and recreation areas that are close to your home.
- Don’t visit crowded parks.
- Wash your hands often.
- Don’t share items with people you don’t live with.
With a little planning and precaution getting outside safely can be easy. The City of Costa Mesa alone has over 415 acres of public parks. The parks are open to the public for exercise and recreation. The parks offer a wide variety of amenities including, hiking and bike trails, tennis, handball and volleyball courts, a skate park, a dog park, playgrounds and tot-lots, and a golf course.
A map of Costa Mesa’s parks can be found here.