Resident Feature

Behaviorally Fit Backyards

We’re a social species, and it is our nature to grow and thrive in community. When events beyond our individual control (a pandemic, for instance) force us into prolonged isolation, most of us can only sustain that isolation for so long before it threatens our emotional wellness. Where do we go when there are major constraints on where, when and how people can safely gather? When resources seem thin, how do we find healing, find peace, find growth, find abundance, find meaningful contact with others? 

We improvise. And here’s something cool: those improvisations can reveal equally good or even better ways to interact, to get what you need, and to share what you already have. Here in Northgate, if we focus on what we already have (a worthy calm-down ritual in its own right) we’re likely to notice an underutilized resource: the backyard. Whether it’s your own comfy chair on the patio, our wealth of trails and parks, or the shapeshifting spectacle of Mount Diablo in the near distance, we are blessed with mild, Mediterranean weather and a diverse abundance of beautiful outdoor spaces. Perhaps you’ve already found yourself imagining new, innovative ways to leverage our backyard resources. 

We all know it’s therapeutic to get out from behind the screen and into the outdoors; to be among trees, birdsong, and the sound of running water. But it’s not just “Mother Nature” who exerts a healing influence. It is something we can all be ordained to offer to one another. 

Behaviorally Fit Backyards is a community movement based on sharing our abundant community resources, fitting resources with needs in distancing-friendly human-scale settings. I believe that optimal mental and emotional health happens not just at the individual level, but at the level of the community, and that one adaptive response to “unprecedented times” is to band together. I’ve brought a roster of talented wellness professionals together with a rotating complement of outdoor spaces, with an eye on optimizing physical and mental health and deepening community engagement. Your backyard (or your neighbor’s, or a local park) might host a yoga class, a reiki session, a lecture or discussion group. This is an evolving collective of community members and all are welcome. 

So consider this an official call to action. Behaviorally Fit Backyards is expanding within and beyond Northgate, collecting backyards, scheduling events, and reaching out to our community. Please visit for the latest offerings. We do charge modest program fees, but we’re sensitive to economic hardship and dedicated to inclusivity, so talk to us about your situation. Pulling together to improve the health of the entire community is the whole idea. 

We all have more to share, more to give, and more to learn than we tend to imagine. Have a space? A need? An idea? A vision? Please reach out (drmayo@behavioralfitnesstoday. com or call/text (925) 818-8062). 

Or you can link to the website and schedule a free 15 minute call: www. 


Dr. Allyson Mayo is the Founder of Behavioral Fitness LLC. She is a pioneer in behavioral health and addiction medicine. 

By Dr. Allyson Mayo, Doctor of Behavioral Health, Resident since 2013