With summer around the corner, it goes without saying that we’re all looking forward to more time in the sunshine. But if you’d like to enjoy the feeling of the outdoors without leaving home, keep reading for the best ways to make your deck or balcony the ultimate space for the season.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been especially important to care for our mental health. A study in the Journal of Leisure Research, confirms that “spending time outdoors, and especially participating in outdoor activities, can lead to a variety of positive mental health outcomes.” Sunshine also helps your body to metabolise Vitamin D, which has numerous health benefits, and doctors recommend about 15 minutes a day of unprotected sun exposure to maximise these benefits.
So, with this in mind, if you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space attached to your home it’s worth ensuing that space is ready to enjoy when you need it most. Be sure to first take care of the balcony or deck with sealing, cleaning (read how to clean cedar decking), and flashing tape so it can take care of you, then it’s onto the sunshine therapy!
Here are 8 great ways to enjoy your deck or balcony this season.
#1 – Hang around!
We all need to be intentional about self-care, especially since 2020 has been such a challenging year. Take a break from life, swing in a hammock or chair, listen to your favourite music, meditate, reflect on your spiritual life, or read a book. Make a playlist with songs to help you relax or sleep. Check out this list of great beach reads which are also great at home from Harper’s Bazaar. Take a deep breath and relax: do something you enjoy.
#2 – Plant a garden
Plant a container garden just steps away from your door. Enjoy watering and tending to your garden spot, and delighting in fresh herbs, vegetables or flowers all summer long. Buy some seeds or seedlings from your local garden center and get creative with your small garden design ideas. Check out this video from Gardening Australia for inspiration.
#3 – Make it kid friendly
Whether you’re dusting off an old board game, getting out a jigsaw puzzle or a paint set, use your outdoor area for fun with your little ones. (Tip: Be sure to keep a storage box somewhere close to keep your supplies and toys tidy and handy.) Use the space to do everything from watching educational videos online to trying a science experiments or painting.
At night, why not watch a movie under the stars. If you don’t have an outdoor TV, you can project visuals onto a screen or relocate the family TV onto the deck to create a fun and immersive movie experience for the whole family.
#4 – Brush up on creativity
If you loved art class in high school but haven’t held a brush since, now may be the perfect time to jump back in. Take a sketchbook or easel out to your deck and don’t judge the results – follow your imagination! Be sure to use a drop cloth for paint, so you don’t stain your flooring or deck boards. If you’ve never painted, consider a paint-by-number kit to start.
#5 – Start writing
You don’t have to have a leather-bound book and an English degree to start a journal, any notebook will do. Not only can journaling unleash your creativity, it can help you process your emotions (journal therapy!) Begin to make it a habit, by keeping your journal accessible and committing to write in it each day for a set period of time. Journaling in a comfy chair outdoors can be a treat at the end of the day. Some people find that keeping a gratitude journal helps to keep them mindful and centered on the positives in life.
#6 – Get moving
If you have an outdoor space at home, you are perfectly positioned to turn occasional exercise routines into a habit. Try some of these exercises you can do anywhere, such as lunges, squats and push-ups. You can also take a yoga mat out to the deck along with your mobile and an exercise or yoga app to have your own fitness class whenever you want one. Find a yoga or exercise routine that’s right for you while you breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the sounds of nature.
#7 – Explore new hobbies
2020 has been a year like no other, and you’ve probably spent a lot more time at home than you like to. If need be, you may as well make the most of this time with a new hobby. Whether it’s still life photography, creative writing, baking or sewing there are no shortage of enriching things to try.
#8 – Try a new barbecue recipe
Last, but not least, summer means eating outdoors! Try one of these 10 deliciously easy summer BBQ ideas. Host a picnic-style lunch, a luau or simple Aussie barbecue for your friends to enjoy. Pop up a few themed decorations to create an even more festive atmosphere.