Heard of Vitamin N? Vitamin Nature. Vit N is needed, says nature advocate, Richard Louv, to combat what he calls a “nature deficit”. There is a strong case to be made for both kids and adults to spend more time than they are in nature.
When I was growing up, a typical day involved heading out the door after breakfast, playing with friends until I flew back home for lunch and then dinner, and back out again until it was dark. Barring nasty weather, the lion’s share of this time was spent outdoors.
Life is pretty different for the average kid these days. Louv’s “nature deficit” seems like a pretty apt description. This deficit is powerfully captured by a fifth-grader that Louv quotes: “I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.” I wonder what your reaction is to this quote. Mine was ‘yikes’.
Want a quick boost to your mood? To your immune system? Reduce your stress? Experience awe? Spend some time in nature. Science confirms what most of us already know from our experiences – we feel better after we have spent some time in the great outdoors.
What is most beneficial are trees and grass. It can be as simple as spending some time in your backyard, heading to a city park or ‘green space’, or one of our abundant Canadian parks. And if it is literally impossible to make your way to the trees and grass, you can even benefit from looking at photos or scenes of nature and plants. (did someone just say ‘let’s go shopping?)
Go Green: Tips
- Go for a short walk before heading out to work.
- Have walking meetings outdoors
- Go outside on your break and/or lunch hour to get some fresh air (I know, I know this may mean being in the proverbial concrete jungle but at least you are outside)
- Have family gatherings in a green space or with a view of a green space
- Make a habit of going to the park
There really aren’t many people that don’t enjoy nature. The benefits accrue to all ages and in fact it is a great way to nurture connections with grandparents.
Need some ideas on different ways to engage with nature? Will 500 activities be enough to start with? Then check out Louv’s most recent book, The Nature Principle.
Let us know in the comments below how you are going to make trees and grass more a part of your life. We might be, well, green with envy.