Why I chose to go outside
Mark has been shielding since March. Here he shares what it was like going outside after a long time at home.
When the government announced people shielding in England could go outside for exercise once a day, I was delighted. I have severe asthma, bronchiectasis and diabetes so I have been shielding since March. The only times I left my house in 11 weeks were when I was rushed to hospital after having an asthma attack and for subsequent hospital appointments.
Like a lot of people, I’ve found shielding quite tough, especially as I was furloughed from my job a few weeks into lockdown. There’s only so much Netflix you can watch!
I’m fortunate I live in a quiet area, so the decision to go for a walk was easier for me. I think I would be quite reluctant if I lived in a busy area.
First walk in 3 months
The first time I went out of the house, I didn’t know which way to go. I’d spent a long time packing my bag with all my medicines, inhalers, hand sanitiser, a face covering and sunglasses, but I hadn’t actually thought about where I was going to walk to!
I decided to turn left out of the street where I live on because I couldn’t see anyone ahead. If I saw someone coming in my direction, I thought: will I be able to cross the road? Or maybe I could duck into someone’s driveway?
But each time I’ve been walking, I’ve felt more relaxed. I’ve found people have been considerate and are in general keeping the 2-metre distance. Most people even say hello, which makes a change from normal!
I tend to walk in the morning when there’s fewer people around and I like going to the park because it’s quite open. Although, I haven’t sat down on a bench yet – I’m a bit paranoid about that.
I’ve found leaving the house therapeutic
The week before the restrictions for people shielding were eased, I’d been feeling a bit down. Just being able to go for a walk outside has been therapeutic. I feel my mental as well as my physical health has benefited.
What’s more, I’ve come to really appreciate the area that I live in. Having been stuck at home for a long time, the world seems a more beautiful place than I remember it. I’d actually never been to the park where I walk before, and I’ve found it to be picturesque and peaceful.
Going outside is a personal decision
I’m feeling more comfortable during my walks but I am still quite wary when I go out. I understand why other people who are shielding might not want to go outside. It’s a personal decision and while this works for me, it might not suit other people.
Got a question about shielding? Or what to do if you live with a lung condition? Check out our coronavirus hub for the latest updates and guidance.