Mental health experts are urging us to get outdoors during this pandemic. As with everything else the virus has brought, this recommendation can be complicated for the chronic illness community.
I believe that it’s so important for our mental health to get out into nature! Yet going outside really can feel daunting for a number of reasons: managing medical gear (the number of times I’ve gone out and realized I forgot something crucial and crashed as a result…), fear of ticks or other triggers, and now fear of encountering someone with COVID-19.
After getting Lyme diseases in middle school, I was terrified of ticks. As an adult, when I realized how much that brief experience impacted the other conditions quietly haunting my body, I became even more afraid. It seemed everything I liked to do outside came with a risk of ticks.
On top of ticks, I fear the elements themselves. Too much sun can trigger a mast cell reaction for me. Too much movement or temperature changes can trigger my GI dysfunction and POTS, as well as joint subluxations. After getting violently ill in the woods for the third time, I decided I’d never hike again. And in the last few weeks, I can feel my body on high-alert when stepping out of my door, afraid of the invisible virus.
But today, I went for a hike! Sure, I panicked when my partner found a tick on his jeans, but we got home, did a tick check, and showered. No harm done. I stayed in tune with my body’s needs to make sure I would get home in one piece. I brought everything I’d need — a water bottle, compression socks, and my Mighty MedPlanner with just-in-case meds, an epipen, snacks, and a few face masks. (For a longer trip, I’d take a well-organized Mighty Pack — check out Chloe’s video below for packing your Mighty Pack for an outdoor adventure!)
I feel so grateful to have been able to find a balance, to be smart but not anxious when getting outdoors. For another perspective, we turned to Mighty Well Ambassador Chloe O’Neill — adventurer and founder of More Than Lyme!