Spending Time in Nature
The importance of spending time in nature cannot be over-stated. I have an innate desire to spend time outside; haven’t we all? Seeing a baby giggle as grass tickles her feet for the first time. Listening to the excitement of children racing outdoors for recess breaks at school. The joys of camping, swimming, hide and seek, games of tag, reading in the sun, having a picnic, building sandcastles, lying in the shade of a tree – all these images evoke wonderful memories.
As adult lives complicate and become more structured and we are enslaved to our screens (computers, phones and televisions), we breathe less fresh air and spend less time in nature. We need to gift ourselves daily time outdoors, even if it is to simply sit on a bench outside our door. Any time spent in leisure or meaningful activity outside improves our health – mental, spiritual, and physical.
Often, we are too lazy to get up off the couch or away from the office – but when we do, we experience instant benefits. Our breathing, mental focus, attitude, and ability to cope improves. Too often we wait for good weather, perfect conditions, better timing, or vacations to get outside.
Give yourself a daily mini-vacation. Get outside. I went into an emotional slump when I moved to Calgary from Vancouver. I found the climate too dry, too hot, or too cold. I missed the ocean and living at the base of a mountain. I hunkered down and stayed indoors. I had always been quite active, so I went to the gym to work out but I was not healthy. I got colds, flus, and infections. It was not until I forced myself to go outside that I started to improve my mood and my physical health.
I had to change my perspective and to enjoy what was available. I learned to love hiking in the mountains, outdoor running, walking in the woods, and camping. In Vancouver, we did not have fire-pits, but I learned to love sitting around our fire-pit with family and friends in Calgary.
Even on darn cold, mid-winter days I try to get outside for even short walks with my golden retriever, Luna. I might not look forward to the walk, but I always feel better when I get out. Treat yourself. Spend some time in nature… and if you live in Calgary or other cold cities, try to plan a warm winter vacation. It really does make a difference, especially in February. I think we are all looking forward to spring, and spending even more time in nature!