With spring and warmer weather, comes an innate need and desire to be outside. It is something our body craves. Our body reconnects with nature, through all the senses each time we’re outside.
Spending time outside encourages movement, which helps keep us lean and strong and healthy. Spending unstructured time in nature, encourages imagination. Spending time moving outdoors daily helps increase our awareness and attention, and our energy. Our mental, physical and spiritual health is directly influenced by spending time in nature.
With so many benefits to spending time outside…why aren’t more of us doing it daily?
There are several common obstacles that we face as families when trying to spend more time outside. Following are 5 obstacles, and tips on how to overcome them:
1. The temptation of high tech devices. The more high tech we become. The more we need nature. Adults and kids spend more than 7 hours a day in front of flat screen devices. One of the ways to overcome this as a family is to create device-free days and times. Encourage each other during these times to go outside. Go for walks or bike-rides, exploring trails, parks and forests. Invite friends and families.
2. Finding time when you’re too busy. Between work, school, and afterschool activities, it can be difficult to find time to spend outside. The schools follow the recommendation of 1 hour of unstructured time outside, but we don’t as adults. Make the time. Even if it’s 10 minutes daily as a start. Get outside before or immediately after. Replace short car drives with walks or biking. The toughest part is getting out the door, but one you do, you’re often hit with nature’s invigoration.
3. Bring the kids with you. When it’s difficult to get just yourself out the door, it can be that much more difficult to get yourself and the kids out. One tip is to invite neighbours or friends to come too. It holds you accountable, and can be more fun as a group. Another tip is to choose outdoor activities that you enjoy. Your kids will join in on your enthusiasm as you have fun together.
4. Not knowing what to do. Don’t stay inside because you’re worried you and your family won’t be entertained. In our society kids (and adults) with an overload of scheduling and structure “don’t have time to be bored”. In this case, let the necessity of invention and creativity move them. It is at the moment of boredom that imagination kicks in. Drop structure in your activities and allow nature and the freedom to explore to help create amazing experiences for you and your kids.
5. Fear of getting dirty or wet or cold. Protecting your family’s health is very important. However, when our living environments are mostly sanitized, climate-controlled, indoor spaces, our health deteriorates. Studies show that playing in the dirt is a good thing…and kids innately love dirt, puddles and bugs. Studies also show how spending time outside in different weather helps build our body’s resilience. So put on layers of clothes, or rain boots, or a sun hat, and go outside and take in all the benefits of nature.
(A good resource: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, written by Richard Louv)