Peach Picking (& Other Socially-Distant Activities)

(outfit details: Gal Meets Glam "Dorothy" dress, Veja sneakers)

The next pandemic, they say, will be called "COVID fatigue". As we all grow weary of mask-wearing and the four walls of our homes, it can be tempting to ignore public health measures and "go back to normal". However, you don't need to ignore health guidance to still have fun! I've compiled a list of fun and safe ways to get outside, so hwe can get through this pandemic mentally and physically healthy.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Bryce and I drove to Crozet, Virginia to Chiles Peach Orchard. Tucked between the mountains on a back road, we were extremely pleased to find very few people out! The vast rows of peach trees made it so easy for us to keep ample distance between ourselves and the other people there.

This is also a relatively inexpensive activity! For $19, we picked well over 25 peaches. It is also good for the environment and for your body to support local farms like this one- especially those that don't use harsh pesticides and chemicals on their produce.

The most fun part (in my opinion) of picking your own fruit is all the recipes that come after! We made a gluten-free peach cobbler, smoothies, and ate them fresh. Peaches are still in-season for picking in many areas- as are blueberries. As we move into the fall, apple-picking is another wonderful option. You can find a list of "you pick" style farms by zip code, along with a calendar sorted by growing season here.

Nature is healing for the body and spirit, and being outdoors, when you're able to maintain distance from others, is one of the safest activities. While it's not easily accessible to everyone depending on where you are, I highly encourage you to take advantage of your natural surroundings whenever possible!

Here in Virginia, we have such a wealth of natural surroundings, from Shenandoah National Park and the Blueridge Parkway to the beaches here in Eastern Virginia. One of my personal favorite outdoor activities is hiking. Physical activity should be fun, not something you dread doing! When I hike or take a walk, I always apply sunscreen and bring a large reusable water bottle.

When meeting up with friends or family outside of your "family unit", it's very important to maintain the safe distance (6 feet minimum), limit the number of people present, and also to wear masks. Myself, along with other William and Mary students, have been working on a campaign to increase awareness and education surrounding how to navigate the social side of the pandemic (you can check out our instagram page here).

I have experienced so many emotions as a result of the social side of the pandemic- and it has certainly been a challenge to navigate friendships and maintaining our support systems and communities when being in person is discouraged (and more dangerous for us immunocompromised). Zoom and FaceTime have been such fantastic tools to stay in touch with friends and family, but they can get old, fast! This article has compiled great information on combatting Zoom fatigue.

There are safe (and easy!) ways to support your favorite local businesses during COVID, too. Many restaurants have converted to take-out only and curbside pickup, and in areas like Williamsburg there are plenty of outdoor seating options that are more secluded.

When I've been at home, I've really enjoyed cooking/baking, re-organizing (who says spring cleaning can't start now?) and watching plenty of Netflix.

You've probably seen your fair share of articles and social media posts of influencers pushing their audiences to use this time to be hyper-productive, to start new hobbies, to become the best version of yourself. To be honest with you, none of this is realistic for the majority of us, especially when these past few months have taken a toll on our mental health. Do your best to ignore these pressures from society- it's okay to spend more time than usual sleeping, or watching Netflix, or cuddling your dog. Take care of your mental health- your struggles remain valid and real.

If you have any suggestions for socially-distant activities, please share them below!

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