I’d like to share with you all the things I’ve been doing since the COVID-19 pandemic started to better myself and stay as healthy as possible. I like the quote, “Whenever one door closes, another door opens.” Of course, I miss doing many of the things I normally do to have fun and interact with other people but this has been a time to take advantage of the many opportunities available. No matter what kind of health issues you’re dealing with, some of these ideas can have significant impact on your overall health.
Birding or birdwatching has been a growing passion of mine for the last few years but quarantine has given me more time to dedicate to this fascinating hobby.
Recent research by Cox and Graston found that people living in neighborhoods with more birds are less likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and stress. The study participants had lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress simply by looking at birds, trees, and shrubs. The more birds the participants could see, the better their mental health. The study participants who spent less time outdoors had higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Dr Daniel Cox, who led the study, stated: “This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being.” Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live.”
Here are my tips to get into birding so you can avoid any of the mistakes I made:
1. Only buy Squirrel Buster feeders from Brome. These will save you a lot of time and money if a squirrel finds your feeder. Squirrels will eat all the food and sometimes destroy a feeder, but they have no chance of getting the food in a Squirrel Buster feeder. “Fiery Hot” squirrel food blends that are supposed to burn the squirrel’s mouth with hot pepper oil just don’t work well so save your money.
2. Avoid bird mix blends that are filled with millet, milo, and wheat. These are cheap fillers that most birds won’t eat so it may seem like you’re saving money by buying cheap bird food but most of it will just be thrown to the ground by the birds. Start out with just black oil sunflower seeds which will attract the most amount of birds.
3. A water feature is just as important as a bird feeder to attract birds to your property.
4. When you put up a new feeder, sprinkle some seed below the feeder on the ground to attract birds.
5. 120 million birds die every year flying into windows. Put up some stained-glass features or buy anti-bird stickers to put on your windows near the feeder so no one ends of dying.
Whenever I’m stressed I like to sit outside on my porch and watch the birds come to my feeders. It always puts a smile on my face no matter how stressed I may be.
I’ve been into astronomy for many years but it had fallen by the wayside the last few years. You don’t necessarily need a telescope to get started as you can use binoculars in the beginning. The stars and the planets are always there for you to enjoy. I just saw the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn the other night and I’m still in awe of how amazing it was.
You can install an astronomy application called Stellarium on your computer or cell phone which tracks the entire night sky. It makes it easy to find any planet, the moon, or stars with a built-in compass so you can find anything quickly by whatever direction you’re facing.
Astronomy makes you realize how vast the universe really is and the great astrophysicist Carl Sagan really puts things in perspective with his Pale Blue Dot narrative:
The key to learning to code is to have a passion project that you can begin working on right away. Simply going through tutorial after tutorial won’t teach you how to code so think about something you’ve always wanted to build.
If there is a website you’ve always wanted to create then learn HTML and CSS.
I am currently learning at freecodecamp.com.
Free Audiobooks and Kindle Books
I stumbled upon a free app called Libby which easily gets you free audiobooks and Amazon Kindle books. Just install the app and connect it to your local library using your library card number and PIN. Library cards and free and easy to sign up for which will open up a bastion of free audiobooks to listen to on the Libby app. You can also connect Libby to your Amazon Kindle account and read any of the digital books your library system has available on your Kindle.
I’m saving tons of money on books and audiobooks now since I can read or listen to them for free with the Libby app. Sometimes you have to wait a few weeks for a book to become available but you just put a “hold” on what you want and you’ll be notified by the app when it is available.
I love this because I don’t have to go to the library lugging books around since everything is digital now.
I’ve been upping my cooking game by watching recipes on YouTube. You can now learn how to cook pretty much anything by watching videos or pulling up recipes online. No matter what type of diet you’re following, you’re bound to find videos and resources online of someone who is creating excellent content to help you eat better.
There are so many things available to us in the natural world that are free or barely cost anything. Quarantine is a time for self reflection and a time to expand our knowledge and improve ourselves.