We, as people, change as we get older, we grow physically, mentally and emotionally. With this growth comes a change in our mental function. It is of utmost importance to keep a healthy mind throughout every stage of life. The simplest ways in which we can ensure we provide our brains with the correct tools to function at prime levels during these changes are, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, spending time outdoors in nature, finding activities that stimulate you mentally and also keep you grounded.
Why is it important to spend time in nature?
The fresh air, sun, trees, flowers and animals are all essential tools in living a happier more balanced and relaxed lifestyle. With the vast amount of stimulation we receive all day every day, spending quality time outdoors, whether it’s by yourself or with a fellow adventure seeker is incredibly important to your physical, emotional and psychological well-being. The long-term benefits of connecting with nature are endless. When you connect with your natural surrounding on a regular basis you will start to see an improvement in your mood, it improves your focus, it helps us heal quicker and even supports graceful aging according to some studies. It is essential for children to spend time outdoors playing in the garden or enjoying time in nature. Numerous studies have shown that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors. The benefits of kids playing outside or spending time in nature are endless, let’s have a look at just a few of these:
- It builds their confidence,
- it promotes their creativity,
- it teaches your kids responsibility,
- it makes them think faster and clearer and
- it reduces stress and fatigue.
How much time should you spend in nature?
The more time you spend in nature the better. However it is not always possible to spend vast amounts of time outdoors without any disruptions, due to today’s fast passed lifestyle. Starting off with a minimum of 120 minutes of your time per week spent connecting with your natural surroundings, has shown to have an incredibly positive outcome on us humans in general. Children should be spending far more time outdoors than just 2 hours per week, it is for this reason that kindergartens, creches and primary schools allocate significant amounts of outdoor play for their classes.
Connecting with nature and staying grounded go hand in hand – what do we mean when we talk about being grounded…? No, we are not referring to the punishment we used to receive as kids or teens. When we talk about being grounded, we are referring to the activities that connect you to the earth. It allows you to be more authentically in your body, in the present moment and receive nourishing energy.
How do you ground yourself you may ask? Here are a few simple steps you can follow to ground yourself in nature using all of your senses:
Acknowledge 5 things around you
Acknowledge 4 things you can touch
Acknowledge 3 things you can hear
Acknowledge 2 things you can smell
Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste If you are near the ocean, a lake or river put your hands in the water, focus on how it feels against your skin, what the water sounds like – can you hear it flowing or lapping the shore? Can you smell the scent of the water? If you are at the ocean smell the salt in the air. If the water is safe to taste – what does it taste like?
You can use the same technique even when gardening – however it wouldn’t necessarily be safe to taste the soil, unless you have a toddler, they seem to think the ground is a lovely treat from time to time.