Living in rural Nevada affords us wide-open spaces, big vistas, and a relatively small population for all this space. Having access to nature, in our yards, parks, and public lands in which we can get outside and spend quality time in nature is something we should not take for granted.
Research shows the negative effects when humans, of all ages, do not get enough time outside. If you or your kiddos are suffering from moodiness, crankiness, short tempers, and anxiety it may be time to plan some time outside and let nature do it’s healing work. Outside time does not have to be an intense hike up a mountain or an exhaustive gear-laden camping trip. Healing outside time can also be very simple.
Here is a list of ideas from Richard Louv, Co-founder of the Children & Nature Network and author of several books on the Nature-Deficit Disorder.
1. Create a “sit spot”. Build a fort, den or tree house that provides a safe space outdoors. Getting outside reduces our sense of isolation. Creating these things helps children learn planning, problem-solving, and creativity. Your sit spot does not need to be fancy, just safe.
2. Deck camp. There is nothing wrong with simply camping in your backyard! Let kids create their own tepee from blankets, play flashlight tag, have a shadow puppet show on the wall.
3. Read or paint outdoors. Take that favorite book or canvas outdoors!
If you cannot get outside, for whatever reason, you can still experience the benefits of nature by:
4. Watching from a window with awe. Look at the clouds if you can, watch for birds flitting by, be intentional about opening curtains and blinds and looking outside.
5. Read an outdoor adventure book. Inspirational titles include Island of the Blue Dolphins, Julie of the Wolves, Tom Sawyer, The Jungle Book, and The Curious Garden. For older kids, The Thunder Tree, What the Robin Knows, Desert Solitaire, and The Sense of Wonder.
6. Electronically watch. Utilize the web to watch live nature cams. It’s not exactly the same as being outdoors, but it does switch our focus from inside to outside and may start conversations that lifts spirits.
Getting outside shifts our focus from an internal-focus to an external-focus and that is what our minds, hearts, and souls need for health. When we stay in our own heads for too long, things get dark, stale, and gloomy. Short stints outside can be beneficial; as little as a 5-minute walk can change a mood. In rural Nevada we have no excuse not to get outside daily.
If you are looking for support to help you get some more outside time, join us at Nevada Outdoor School! We offer programs each month and you can find the latest events on our website: nevadaoutdoorschool.org. This month, in October, you can find us enjoying the outdoors while making paracord bracelets and walking local trails in and out of costume! We hope to see you at one of our upcoming events. Get outside, it is good for humans everywhere!