Beaches are slowly reopening, most pools have capacity restrictions and for many of us it’s safe to say that our plans for summer 2020 have undergone some serious changes. Many of us thought COVID-19 would be long gone by the start of summer, but it seems the guidelines surrounding it are here to stay for a while. For the time being, we are expected to continue with social distancing and comply with our state mandates for staying home as much as possible. So what can we do? Is it possible to make summer plans that we can count on right now?
It’s OK to Grieve Summer 2020
First thing’s first—it is OK to grieve the summer you planned before the pandemic entered our lives. Perhaps you were taking your first trip ever to a Disney theme park, or you were going on a road trip to tour the national parks. Maybe you were planning to backpack through Europe, or all you wanted to do was hang out with friends at the local pool. The realization that a plan won’t occur, no matter how small it might seem, is likely to bring up some feelings of sadness, frustration or anger. Being open and honest with ourselves during this unprecedented time is important for maintaining our mental health. Give yourself permission to sit with your feelings and allow yourself time to acknowledge and process them. When you take the time to grieve the plans you no longer have, you can begin planning for a new take on summer.
Reimagine Summer 2020 with Virtual Visits
One silver lining of the COVID-19 closures is that many parks and organizations have taken the time to create virtual experiences for the public to view.
- The National Park Foundation™ shares a variety of options for virtual experiences, including online tours and webcams that are set up throughout many parks.
- Take a self-guided virtual tour through the National Aquarium to see many of their exhibits featuring sharks, dolphins and other creatures of the sea.
- The Georgia Aquarium also has live cams set up for viewing the likes of sea otters, jellyfish and beluga whales.
- Watch a variety of live cams and prerecorded videos at the San Diego Zoo, featuring elephants, polar bears, pandas and penguins.
- Many of the Smithsonian Museums have created virtual tours, including the Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum, Museum of African American History & Culture and more. View the full list of Smithsonian museums that offer virtual visits.
- Turn your international trip into a virtual experience with tours of the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums around the world.
The wonderful thing about these virtual experiences is that they are open and accessible to everyone during this time. You may even find yourself adding new experiences and places to your to-do list once the world essentially opens back up.
Reconnect Responsibly this Summer
Summer is the time when we often reconnect with friends and family members. Planning vacations, trips, lunch dates and nights out on the town is a huge part of enjoying summertime for many people. It’s hard to imagine what summer looks like without these outings and feeling sadness over these changes is normal and expected. One of the great things about this day and age that we live in is the ability to connect with our loved ones virtually. This is the time to take advantage of our smart phones, tablets, laptops and the multitude of apps or websites that have been developed to help us connect. Try setting up a virtual game night with friends, using a board game or cards that you all have in your home, or a virtual game board where everybody can participate. Schedule a lunch or dinner date using video chat, or plan a happy hour using a group chat. Technology has granted us so many ways to remain connected with the people we love and care about, and there has never been a better time to take advantage of their availability.
Going out to eat is a big part of connecting with others. We have celebratory meals out with family, enjoy an after-work outing with coworkers or schedule a quick catch-up session at a local coffee shop with friends. While most in-house dining options are slowly opening back up with certain guidelines, most shops and restaurants are still offering takeout or delivery options for the public. Support your favorite local businesses by ordering meals to share with family at home or pick up from your favorite coffee shop before having a walk (or video call) with a friend. Tasting familiar food and drink can bring us great comfort during this time, and your patronage will be much appreciated by your local businesses, too.
Make the Most of Summer 2020
Summer 2020 may be our most unusual summer yet, but the positive thing coming out of it is that we are all in the same boat. We are all working toward different ways to plan get-togethers and reunions, celebrations, graduations, vacations and so much more. Be open with your friends and family about how you’re feeling and take advantage of the many ways we can connect with each other while social distancing.
If you feel like talking with a professional would help you or a loved one, please contact Discovery Mood & Anxiety for assistance.
Madeline Radigan is a registered dietitian who works with adolescents in mental health residential treatment. She is passionate about advocating for weight inclusivity and a non-diet approach to help people heal their relationships with food and their bodies. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors and spending time on trails with her family. You can find more of Madeline’s thoughts and work at radnutrition.net or on Instagram at @mradnutrition.