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Natural Awakenings New York City

Nature: The Antidote That’s Always There

By Roger Dubin

You won’t get coronavirus from contact with plants, dirt, rocks, and animals. What you will get is a break from the stress and risk that come from being with other people in confined spaces.

My 27-year-old daughter, Tara, who lives on Maui, texted me in mid-March: Dad I miss you. How’s it going back on the continent? Of course, this text arrived overnight because of the time difference.

My text back: What a wonderful way to start the day, with a loving text from my daughter. I was doing fine till I checked the news reports about the virus.

Tara: Oh Dad, rookie mistake. You have to stay away from the news, particularly in these times. 

Dad: I get that, but where I am I can’t always close myself off from what’s going on around me. Sure, for me that’s relatively easy, I just go out into the woods. But I can’t stay in the woods forever. Sometimes I have to come back into town.

And then it hit me. While I can’t go into the woods forever, I can go there whenever I want. So my answer to this pandemic is the same as my answer to many of life’s trials and tribulations: Get outside in nature—take a hike.

CDC guidelines speak to the importance of not spreading the disease. How does the disease spread? When one person who has it comes into contact with another person who doesn’t.  So we went from not having gatherings of 500 or more, down to 200, then 50, and now, at the time of this writing, 10. 

And what should we do when we do have to be with other people? Practice social distancing. 

Social distancing is very easy out in nature. Simply walk a safe distance from any of the people you happen to be hiking with. Or go it alone.

Oh, and you won’t get the virus from contact with plants, dirt, rocks and animals. What you will get is a break from the stress and risk that come from being with other people in confined spaces.

Schools are closed. Restaurants and other gathering places are close. Even playgrounds are closed. Guess what? The parks and the woods are open. The walkways along the rivers are open. 

Get out there and breathe in the fresh air. Maybe pick up the pace and break a sweat. Or sit quietly on a nice flat rock (or bench) and just listen to the birds, feel the wind, smell the flowers, and be free from worry for a little while. 

Hug a tree! Find one with nice smooth bark. Get up close and wrap your arms around it. You can get as close as you want. Feel the energy transferring from the leaves touching the sky to the roots reaching into the earth. 

My antidote to the coronavirus? Take a hike and get out into nature. Nature is always there, and it always provides. Be safe, and happy spring.

Roger Dubin is the marketing director for Natural Awakenings, volunteer trail supervisor for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference ( and day hike leader and naturist for the Nature Place Day Camp ( Contact him at [email protected] or on Instagram @MrNaturalNYC.