The Great Indoors: Bringing the Outside In

Two of my favorite, budget-friendly things to do are 1) ride the bus to the park, walk barefoot on the grass and soak up the scenery, and 2) hike to the ocean lookout, take in the spectacular view and breathe the salty air. Both involve sampling neighborhood eats and capturing a few moments on camera.

Hazy dark-orange sky, tree trunk, fence, and dying plants

But when it looked like this outside, there was no question that it was best to stay indoors.

The sky is falling here in Northern California. Clouds brought about by wildfire smoke and wind are “raining” ash over the Bay Area. Mid-last week, the sky was a hazy, dark-orange and the day resembled night until mid-afternoon. Local news teams were on-point when they described it as apocalyptic, eerie, surreal, like sepia, and as if we were on another planet.

Cloudy sky due wildfires

Since then, the Mars-like appearance has resolved, but the air quality was very unhealthy late last week and remains unhealthy today. Face coverings for protection against infection are not sufficient to protect against this level of air pollution, as well. An irritated respiratory tract can lower the immune system’s defenses and invite unwelcome guests, such as coronavirus and influenza. So, local advisories have been recommending to stay inside as much as possible.

Many of us have added working remotely (or searching for and applying to jobs while maintaining, improving, and developing new skills), distance learning, and around-the-clock parenting to our daily home routines. How can we cope with the ongoing need to minimize time spent outside when some of the things we do to unplug are outdoors? Here are 6 suggestions.

Notes: This post was last updated on February 16, 2021. References are listed only to indicate where information was and can be found. Scout is not associated with them, nor do they approve, endorse, or sponsor this blog or its content. For more information, see “Disclosures and Disclaimers.”

Keep a Positive, Open Mind. Relate, Help, and Connect.

Be thankful to have an indoors and people in the community, who must go outside to fight fires, crime, and disease, clean and disinfect, and store, prepare and deliver food and other supplies.

Empathize with those, who are struggling (i.e., lost their home, belongings, or job, enduring food insecurity, abuse, etc.) and those, who have been living primarily indoors – well-before the pandemic.

Do what you can to help others, while avoiding or minimizing risk to yourself. Contribute to top-rated charities that support affected individuals and families. Consider joining a social networking service for neighborhoods. Appreciate the brief times you do go out – even if they’re just to run errands.

Bring Nature Inside

1. Keep Indoor Plants

Plants offer more benefits than just adding a natural element to your home decor. They also clean and add moisture to the air and were found to enhance mood, concentration, memory, and productivity.1 Great plants to keep indoors are English ivy, orchids, snake plants, spider plants, and succulents.1 Check with your local nursery for availability.

2. Listen to Nature Sounds

Search online for audio recordings of winds blowing through trees, fire crackling and crickets chirping, rains showering, ocean waves rolling, or water running down a stream or river. Look into a fountain that mimics the sound of a babbling brook.

Simulate Outdoor Activities

3. Do Outside Exercises Inside

Search for online videos of exercise being done outdoors. I found fun chair workouts that took place under a gazebo near a lake and on a pier at a beach.

Consider investing in home exercise equipment. If you cycle regularly, look into an indoor bike trainer or stationary bike stand. If you normally walk, hike, jog or run, check out mini elliptical or stepper machines. These compact versions are perfect for small spaces.

4. Picnic or Camp Indoors

Why not lay a gingham table cloth or blanket on the floor, play those winds blowing through trees sounds, and nosh on burritos or banh mis and fruit salad?

Or set up a small tent or fort, play those fire crackling and crickets chirping sounds, and munch on bean, salmon, or turkey burgers, grilled veggies, and S’mores?

5. Listen to Outdoor Music Performances

Instead of playing studio recordings, play live music performed outside. Search online for videos of outdoor music concerts or festivals.

Bring the World to You

6. Dream or Reminisce About Travel

Watch television shows and read books on the foods, cultures, histories, and sights of different cities and countries.

Put together a special meal by preparing dishes you ate on a trip or look forward to eating at a destination you’ve been eager to visit. Set the mood by decorating and playing music that matches the occasion.

Arrange photos from past travels in an album. Use copies of these photos or other pictures to create wall art or your own souvenirs.

Do you have any other ideas? If so, please do share. Thank you and take care.

  1. Source for Indoor Plants: Roberts, C. & Graper, D. (Updated December 18, 2018). Four Benefits of Houseplants.


Published by Scout

Saving Materials & Money, Balancing Life & Leisure, and Enjoying the Simple Things. Health, Food, Money, Home, Travel, and Music.

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