You may have mixed feelings about the recent changes that allow people who are shielding to spend time outside in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
You may be worried about going out and coming into contact with others again, but you may also feel happy that you’re able to leave your house for the first time in many months. It’s ok to feel unsure, and it’s your decision whether to go out or not. Even if you are at moderate risk you may still have some concerns about going out more often as the lockdown restictions are eased. Coronavirus is likely to be with us for some time and everyone is slowly getting used to the ‘new normal’ with social distancing and increased hygiene measures in place to help keep us all safe.
Getting outside and spending time in nature may help your mental wellbeing – but you also need to balance this with your physical health. If you've been shielding your risk of serious complications from coronavirus is high, so we’d still recommend you still stay at home as much as possible.
We've put together some tips to help you stay safe when outside:
- Wash your hands. The most important thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to wash your hands. This should be the first thing you do when you get home. If you touch any door handles or surfaces in your house before you wash your hands, disinfect these too.
- Don’t touch your face. We all touch our faces much more than we probably realise, so try remember to keep your hands away from your face when you’re outside.
- Don't touch any surfaces. Try not to touch any surfaces when you’re out. If you do have to touch something, carry hand sanitizer so you can clean your hands immediately after. Many parks and outdoor spaces have temporarily removed their gates so you may not even need to touch anything.
- Keep your distance from others. You'll likely notice that most people are doing their best to stay 2 metres away from others, such as crossing the road or stepping aside to let others pass at a distance. You must also stay 2 metres away from anyone you go outside with – whether that’s the people you live with, or someone from another household.
- Meet the same person each time. If you live alone, you can meet one other person from another household – but you must follow social distancing and stay 2 metres away from them. It’s recommended that you meet the same person each time you go outside. You shouldn’t meet someone different each time you go out.
- Pick less busy times and places. If you’re worried about coming into contact with others, stick to open spaces where there's room to move away and keep your distance, rather than narrow walking tracks or footpaths. You could also go out earlier in the morning or later in the evening when there are likely to be less people around.
- Stay outside. Being outside with others is much safer than being indoors with others – don’t be tempted to pop into the shops or allow someone inside your home.
- Stay close to home. You shouldn’t drive to another location with anyone else in the car, as it won’t be possible to socially distance. Staying close to home will also help if you need urgent access to a toilet, as many public toilets are currently closed. Join our campaign to urge your local council to safely re-open public toilets as soon as they can.
- Start small and set yourself goals. If you’re nervous about going outside but feel it would help your mental wellbeing, start small and work your way up. This could be a walking a certain number of steps each day or spending a certain amount of time outside the house, gradually increasing every day. You could even sign up to My Walk It and set this as a challenge to work towards. It might be really tough physically to start exercising again after so many weeks indoors, but don’t be put off if your fitness isn’t what it used to be – it will come back. Slowly building up exercise every day is one of the best ways to tackle fatigue.
- Relax and enjoy your time outside. Take a mental note of the change of scenery and the new sights and sounds around you. If you start to feel worried, pause and take some deep breaths. Listening to your favourite music, a podcast or an audiobook while you're outside may also help you relax and enjoy your time outside.
To find out more about your risk level and what you precautions you should be taking, see our information on risk.