We humans are social creatures – even our so-called “anti-social” behaviors, like staying in and getting online, are in search of a connection with others. We also have to acknowledge that humans at their core are still animals – and as animals we are all part of nature and respond to it in various ways.
Study after study shows the connection between our health and access to nature, from such obvious factors as the health effects when we lack access to clean water and fresh air, to those not so obvious factors like the connection between spending time outside and increased focus and concentration.
While social distancing may feel constraining, it also provides a great opportunity to step back and embrace our connection with nature. If we cannot seek out physical connection with other humans, what better place to seek a physical connection than in the woods, the meadows, the ponds and beaches?
What do I do once I am outside?
Nothing! You can start with that. Just find a spot to sit and be comfortable, where you can take in the sights, sounds and smells of nature.
Getting outside can be as simple as stepping out onto your stoop. Take in the fresh air; look around at the change in light and moving leaves; listen for birdsong, the buzz of insects and the movement of plants in the wind.
We have a plethora of suggestions for that, too.
Start with taking a walk. Go around the block, and expand from there. If you walk for ten minutes one day, extend it to fifteen the next and see what you can find. A new neighborhood? A new tree along the trail?
Start a nature journal! Take it on your walk and find somewhere to sit ad make observations – maybe there is a rock that faces a creek, or a patch of plants just pushing through the soil. Look around and take note of everything you observe.
These are all great, but I have kids – how do I get them outside and interested?
We have suggestions for that as well!
Getting creative is a great way to engage the kids. Look around the back yard or neighborhood and create a scavenger hunt. Ask for some simpler finds, like pine needles or a pinecone, and then dig deeper: are there any plants with purple leaves in the neighborhood? Maybe a certain yard has a red flower (look but don’t touch!)
Another great activity is taking some playdoh outside and discover the different textures in nature. Compare the imprint of different trees, or see if you can create leaf prints! Take it to the next level and see if you can identify the trees and start a nature journal with your findings.