April 19, 2018

Connect with Nature: 10 Reasons to Get Outside

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” -Rachel Carson

When you think back to your childhood, can you recall a day at the beach, a camping trip or even just a picnic that you really enjoyed? How about a passion for fishing, swimming or even canoeing? It’s time to bring back those memorable childhood pastimes, and time to start dipping your toes in the mud once in a while.

As far back as I can remember, I have always loved spending time outdoors. When I was younger, my grandmother and I used to go on nature walks at our cottage, collecting interesting things and always looking up the names of certain flowers or birds when we got back. Growing up on Lake Huron, I spent my free time at the local beach, not coming home until my fingers looked like prunes. 

Some may call me a nature nerd, but that's ok with me because being outdoors is what makes my heart happy.  

Connect with Nature on Earth Day: 10 Reasons to Get Outside

When was the last time you went outside? I'm not talking a walk to put out the garbage at the end of the driveway. I'm talking when you really went outside - for purpose and pure enjoyment - hiking, camping, fishing, even a relaxing day at the beach.

Sadly, not many people can remember the last time they really got outside. Emerging technologies, limited green space and a fear magnified by media are often to blame. Nature deficit disorder is real, and is becoming all too common in today's society.

At a time when we our daughter is beginning to take a larger interest in the world around her and we’re about to welcome number 2, I can't imagine a world where we don't get outside. 

Connect with Nature on Earth Day: 10 Reasons to Get Outside

Clearly, I am a total nature pusher and truly believe that being outside in nature is good for the soul. In celebration of Earth Day (on April 22), I'm sharing 10 reasons why YOU should get outside:

To escape the hectic city life. 
Stressed at work? Leave the to do lists at home and head for the trees. No wifi, no electrical outlets, no problem. Leave the technology at home. Studies have found that those that spend time in nature have lower levels of cortisol, a hormone used as a marker for stress, than those that stay in the city. Give your brain, and eyes, a break, and enjoy the quiet time. A dose of fresh air is the perfect way to reset before the work week ahead.

To explore new places. 
Whether it is your local park, or a natural area a road trip away, choosing different places to visit allows you to explore what your own city and others have to offer. Do you research - you'd be shocked at the places you can find within a short drive from your home.

To develop a new found love of nature. 
Being outside isn't just about being in a new environment. It's also about gaining a new appreciation for Mother Nature's beauty. Take a walk in the woods - close your eyes, open your ears and take a deep breathe. Look up, look down, look all around you. Appreciate the small things. Learn something new about the plants and animals that call your area home. 

>> You may also like: Benefits of Outdoor Play 

To reset your sleep cycle. 
With crazy work schedules and the increased exposure to artificial light, our internal clocks can easily get out of rhythm. Studies have shown that we actually sleep better when we set our sleep cycles with those of the sun. Plan a camping trip and leave the alarm clocks at home. Allow your body the rest it deserves.

To relax your mind and eyes.
You probably already know that staring at a screen for hours is bad for your eyes. So then, why do it? Turn off the electronics and take in the visual buffet that is the outdoors instead. And, if you really need to take the technology with you, put it to work by going on a photo safari. 

To spend time with friends and family. 
Being outside doesn't have an age limit. Taking a walk through the worlds, relaxing on the beach or even sitting around the campfire, telling stories, playing games and having a few laughs is the perfect bonding experience. And don't forget about your pets, sometimes unwinding in nature does them good too.

To do something affordable. 
Getting outside is often cheaper than planning a weekend trip to a popular tourist area. Chances are, it may even be free! If visiting a national/state/provincial park, day use and overnight fees are usually very minimal, and what you do pay often goes right back into caring for the park. 

To get some exercise. 
Being outdoors does not need to be strenuous, but it can give you the opportunity to take a break from your regular exercise routine and try something different. The opportunities for exercise while being outdoors are endless - canoeing, climbing and hiking are just a few. Your body will thank you.

To inspire others.
Now that we have a daughter of our own, spending as much time outdoors as we can is so important. The more time we spend outdoors, the more our daughter will enjoy being outdoors with us. It's all about building that connection with Mother Nature. If someone has a connection with nature, they are more likely to love it. And if they love it, then they're more likely to want to protect it.

>> You may also like: Creating an Animal Lover 

To have fun! 
No explanation needed.

So do me a favour this weekend - make a pledge to get outside. Whether it is a nightly walk in the park or a weekend camping, drop the chaos of every day life. Take a deep breath and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors. Make a lasting connection with nature. I think you'll like it. 

Connect with Nature on Earth Day: 10 Reasons to Get Outside

About Earth Day 2018: Earth Day is now a global event each year. Observed by more than 1 billion people in 192 counties, it the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. This year's theme is End Plastic Pollution. From injuring marine life to the presence of plastics in our food and beyond, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival. The goal of Earth Day 2018 includes ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100% recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behaviour concerning plastics.

What is your favourite outdoor activity? How do you celebrate Earth Day? I'd love to hear!

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