I don’t think there has ever been such a quiet start to the New Year. We are well into another national lockdown and the hospitality sector remains closed. People are encouraged to work from home where possible and schools and colleges are not expected to return before Easter.
We are all waiting patiently for better weather when we can hopefully begin to spend some time outdoors. The recognised benefits of spending time outdoors include reducing heart rate, blood pressure, lowering stress hormones and easing muscle tension. It can even boost your mood. Improvements in attention, memory and concentration have also been shown.
Spending time outdoors boosts vitamin D levels which helps to protect against a range of diseases such as osteoporosis, depression, heart attacks and stroke. It is shown in studies that many of us do not get enough of this important vitamin, so more time outside is key to help address this deficiency.
Hospitality businesses and education caterers may want to include an outdoor food offering into their return planning. An outdoor buffet supported by the kitchen or to simply provide hot soup on colder days along with pre-packaged sandwiches may be enough. It need not be a costly operation. Look at the weather forecast and, if favourable, dust off the barbecue and provide a burger bar with healthy salads to go alongside. Children love being outdoors and with the longest break in the school day being the lunch break, outdoor dining could prove very popular amongst pupils.
Al-fresco dining around a barbecue can also be beneficial before and during exam periods when Vitamin D from the sun can provide a mood boost, help reduce stress and encourage a more active mindset. It is also a social way of dining, allowing students to relax and be part of a group dynamic, which can again help reduce stress.
Hopefully, in the coming weeks, we will have a clearer idea of when pupils can return to school and trade can re-open, but until then be assured that Spring IS on its way, so hang on in there.