It’s officially fall, everyone! A time for pumpkin spice lattes, carving jack-o-lanterns, golden leaves, crisp and windy days, and annual harvest festivals.
While many Colorado residents are vaccinated, there are still some that are not. There are also reports of breakthrough cases of the virus. Many people are still cautious about doing activities out in the community, for fear of contracting the virus. However, you don’t need to worry or feel left out this fall, there are many COVID safe activities that are happening this year.
Here are 10 COVID-19 safe fall activities, designed with your mental health and wellness in mind.
1. Create Fall Themed Art
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Whether you are painting the changing leaves, or knitting a scarf, creating autumnal collages, or writing a spooky Halloween story, creating fall themed art is a fantastic way to enjoy the season. This activity can be done in the community or at home depending on your preference and your comfort level.
Art can be a tool for deeper self-awareness, self-acceptance, and compassionate connection with the world around us. It allows us to remain connected and present in the moment. This fall connect with your inner artist and exercise mindfulness by creating art based on the season.
2. Keep A Fall Gratitude Journal
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Journal everything you’re thankful for this fall season and see how you feel as time progresses. You can journal at home, or in nature, or even at work. Find a few things, big or small, that you can be grateful for and write them down. There are many scientific studies that have shown writing is a restorative and empowering tool for personal growth.
According to Bridget Murray of the American Psychological Association, “By helping people manage and learn from negative experiences, writing strengthens their immune systems as well as their minds.”
Carry the gratitude you have written with you as you go about your daily routines. Keep track of any changes that you feel while you are writing. At the end of the season, you may find that you are grateful that you started this process.
3. Go Pumpkin or Apple Picking
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There is nothing quite like picking fresh pumpkins or apples in the fall. It is a great activity that you can do alone or in a small group. Not only will you be able to connect with nature, you will also be a bit safer from COVID-19 as the orchards and fields are outside.
Spending time outdoors and in nature has been proven to lift and reduce stress, ease depression, and boost our immune system. So go out and gather the fruits of fall, it will give your mood a boost and provide you with a fun COVID free afternoon.
4. Bake Fall Flavored Treats
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From pumpkin pies, to cinnamon rolls, to apple cobbler, to maple muffins, there are so many fantastic fall treats to bake this fall. Baking allows us to be creative, strategic, logical, and relaxed. Baking serves as a focused activity that can increase mindfulness, satisfaction and sensory pleasure. It allows the baker to redirect their negative or stressed thoughts towards an activity that occupies the mind and body.
Julia Ponsonby, author of The Art of Mindful Baking, told the HuffPost, “The physical act of baking, the way that you knead bread for example, takes your mind out of the intellectual and connects you to your body.”
Many bakers find the activity to be incredibly therapeutic, which boosts their overall mood. If you are feeling stressed or depressed this fall about COVID-19, try baking. Not only will you get some tasty treats out of it, you will also be able to destress.
5. Take A Walk Or Go On A Hike To See The Changing Leaves
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Taking a hike or a walk and looking at the beautiful fall foliage is a great way to spend a day. Fresh air can be incredibly healing and rejuvenating, especially if you spend a lot of time on a screen. Spending time in nature can act as a balm for our busy brains.
According to the Mayo Clinic, walking has numerous health benefits, including increasing energy levels, reducing tension, and improving mood and sleep. If you are going to do one fall activity this season, go outside and see the leaves. Their vibrant colors will only last for a brief time, so enjoy them while you can.
6. Visit A Corn Maze
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Help improve your intellectual wellness by trying to solve a local corn maze. Intellectual Wellness is one of the five dimensions of wellness that we need to live a full and healthy life. It helps us stimulate our creativity and curiosity as well, which helps us to keep interacting more with the world around us. Curiosity helps us to be open to new things and new experiences.
A corn maze is great for improving intellectual wellness as it allows us to try something new, solve a puzzle, and improve our sense of direction. There are several farms in the Denver Metro area that have corn mazes for the public to go through. Remember to wear your mask, go at non-peak hours to avoid crowds, and bring your hand sanitizer and you will be all set to have a fun fall day.
7. Host A Halloween Themed Movie Night (Virtually Or In Person)
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Halloween is upon us and one of the time-honored holiday traditions is to watch Halloween themed movies. Usually this means watching Halloween films with a group of brave friends all passing around the candy and popcorn. With COVID, this tradition like many others changed a bit. Movie nights became virtual watch parties and friendships became strained.
This year though, with more and more people vaccinated these movie nights are coming back. If you are still not totally comfortable with this, you can still host a virtual watch party. For the next 31 days of Halloween grab some popcorn, call up some friends, and increase your strengthen your social bonds over classics like The Nightmare Before Christmas or Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.
8. Decorate For The Season
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Breakout the fall and Halloween decorations, it’s time to get creative. There are real psychological effects that can occur from the decor in your spaces. In many ways caring for your space is a form of self-care. Our personal spaces set the stage for our lives. Just like baking, decorating allows us to redirect our thoughts towards an activity that occupies our mind and body.
Just like how putting up Christmas lights at the start of the Pandemic helped raise our spirits, so too can decorating for Halloween. If you know that decorating for Halloween will help improve your mood, do it. Hang those orange and black lights, place out you leaf wreaths, find those plastic skeletons, and remember it’s never too early to decorate if it makes you happy.
9. Jump In A Pile Of Leaves
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Embrace your inner kid by diving into a massive pile of leaves. Or make a game of it with family or friends by hiding "treasure" and turning it into a scavenger hunt. Find ways to reconnect with what made your heart sing as a child.
Research Psychologist Dr. Diana Raab told Healthline, “Being in touch with the joys of childhood can be an excellent way of dealing with challenging times.”
Make fun a priority and allow yourself to be a kid again by jumping into a pile of leaves. For a few moments you will be able to forget the stressors of the world and be able to focus on pure, unadulterated, enjoyment.
10. Attend Fall Group Events That Are Available Virtually Or In Person
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There are several Covid-19 safe events in the Jefferson, Clear Creek, and Gilpin counties happening this fall.
For example, if you are looking for a great couples event, the Colorado Spirit Team is offering a Couples Group every Monday from Nov. 8th to Nov. 29th from 6:00 PM MST to 7:30 MP MST. Join Colorado Spirit’s Megan Kearns and Sarah Greenbaum for a 4-week strength-based, goal-oriented, and interactive group designed for partners seeking support. This group will explore individual and shared values, communication tips, relational patterns, and tools to navigate conflict and strengthen connection overall. For more information or to sign up for the event click here.
There are also many local harvest/fall festivals that are taking COVID-19 precautions, such as Lakewood’s Flick or Treat event. During this family event, guests will get to trick-or-treat, attend a Halloween party, and watch Hocus Pocus. The festival will take place outside and will be inclusive with paved surfaces, fewer participants, and sensorimotor adaptations for trick-or-treaters.
Have fun this fall and remember that the Jefferson Center’s Colorado Spirit team is here for you for all of your mental health needs. Offering free and confidential support, we can help you with counseling tips and strategies to cope successfully and referrals to additional mental health resources. Call us if you need to talk at 720-731-4689.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call us at 303-425-0300 or by calling the crisis line at 844-493-8255. The 24/7 crisis walk-in center and withdrawal management program is open at 4643 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.