Heard of Vitamin N? Vitamin Nature. Vit N is needed, says nature advocate, Richard Louv, to combat what he calls a “nature deficit”. Pandemic aside, there is a strong case to be made for both kids and adults to spend more time 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. I also wonder whether the pandemic is having an impact on how much time kids are spending outdoors.
Want to boost your mood? Head outside
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. This is something seniors’ residences and long-term care homes can easily provide.
Getting Vitamin N during a pandemic
All you have to do is stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people who are not from your household or within your bubble and:
- Go for a short walk before heading out to work or starting work at home
- Go for a walk and use earphones for outdoor meetings
- 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
- Have a family walk before settling in for some television time
There 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 make trees and grass a part of your life. We might be, well, green with envy.