The average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen. Child Mind Institute
Richard Louv, in his book Last Child in the Woods, referred to this as “nature-deficit disorder.” Louv believes it is one reason for rising rates of depression and anxiety in children.
Children are not the only ones spending too much time indoors these days. According to research, American adults spend more than 90 percent of their lives indoors.
If this is true for you (as it often is for me), here are three factors to help motivate us to get off the couch and go outside.
- Nature is beautiful. A starry sky, a sunset, flowers, a bird in flight all induce a sense of wonder in us. We are soulful creatures and beauty is good for the soul.
- Nature is relaxing. Studies show that spending time in nature calms the nervous system and reduces levels of stress hormones. This makes our immune systems stronger (very important in the age of COVID), helps improve our sleep, and lifts our mood.
- Nature speaks to us. Plants and trees release beneficial chemicals and provide a pleasant sensory experience. Humans evolved to be outdoors; it’s part of what makes us human.
Research tells us that the biggest impact occurs in the first five minutes of being in nature. So, whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.
Affirmation: I love experiencing nature.
Coaching questions: What motivates you to get off the couch and go outside? What does spending time in nature mean to you?