“You can live in fear or live your life.” Those are the words of a hockey fan explaining her decision to attend a recent Avalanche game in San Jose. These are trying times indeed when we have to weigh risk each time we consider attending an event, meeting or stop at the grocery store.

Think about the pioneers who settled Colorado, first skied the mountains or climbed 14ers in woolen trousers. They were not risk-averse. Like the rest of us, they considered their choices and made a decision.

By now we know the coronavirus is not an equal opportunity disease. Some of us are far more vulnerable than others. Those at higher risk need to protect themselves as best they can.

I would encourage everyone else to “find their happy places” and frequent them as often as possible. Parks, trails and open spaces are great places to start. According to medical experts, you are less likely to come in contact with infection when the closest person is several yards away. We’re being told contaminated droplets from a cough or sneeze only carry three feet. Also, recent research shows that spending just two hours outside engaging in light physical activity each week will give you maximum physical, mental and emotional benefits. If that’s a stretch, other studies indicate just 20 minutes outside doing anything you enjoy will lower stress and anxiety levels.

Maybe it’s the right time to take up or resume gardening. The Charmaine Nyman Community Garden in Bear Creek Regional Park has plots available this season. Learn more at bearcreekgardens.org. You can adopt a flower bed plot in many of the medians in Colorado Springs’ streets. Check out “Springs in Bloom” at coloradosprings.gov to find out what’s available.

If stress and fear can make us more susceptible to illness, hiking, biking and gardening are excellent ways to relieve stress. And it should go without saying that fresh air and exercise can contribute to good health.

I was recently told about an altercation between two people after one of them sneezed in a checkout line.

Yes, these are trying times, but we’re better than that. Time to chill out and get outdoors.

Susan Davies is executive director of the 30-year-old Trails and Open Space Coalition. Send any questions and comments to susan@trailsandopenspaces.org.

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