Are You Suffering from Nature-Deficit Disorder?

Now that we know that a vaccine for the coronavirus is on the way, what are we going to worry about? Well, you can start worrying about Nature Deficient Disorder, of which I was recently made aware by Jenny Miller of Stop Nature Deficient Disorder, a group of retired teachers whose goal is “to encourage people of all ages to engage with the beauty of nature as often as possible.”  Jenny offered to send me some activities we could use our youth programs on Perception. On the StopNDD website they list the following advantages of getting out in nature:

  • Spending time in natural sunlight has been shown to increase vitamin D levels, which helps fight osteoporosis, cancer, depression, heart attacks, and skin conditions like acne and eczema.
  • Exploring the great outdoors is a natural, easy way to get some exercise.
  • Research shows that getting fresh air boosts our mood, and helps us keep those good feelings going even when we’ve moved back inside.
  • Exposure to nature can increase focus and concentration, especially for children and adults that have ADD or ADHD.
  • Spending time in and being aware of the natural world around us may help us better use our senses. Human senses, just like all other animals, are designed to be used outdoors. By spending more time outside, you will start to see, smell, hear, feel, and possibly even taste things you didn’t even know you were missing out on.
Suffering from NDD
Enjoying the benefits of nature
Coincidentally, their goals align with ours at Michigan Challenge very closely. Many newsletters ago we featured an article about how being by the water affects us. We quoted a Boat US magazine article that stated,  “The sound of water increases blood flow to the brain, inducing relaxation, something we’ve probably all felt.  Even the mere sight of water can induce a flood of neuro-chemicals that promote wellness.  On or around water, our stress hormones dip.” When helping kids who are feeling grief, loneliness, and uncertainty, the positive effects of nature, and especially water, have a tremendous effect.

I’m sure many of us turned to nature this summer as the pandemic prevented us from  doing things with friends, family, classmates, and co-workers. But now that it’s turned cold it’s easier to turn to our tv’s, computers, tablets, video games, refrigerators, and liquor cabinets while hunkering down to wait out the next few months.  But we can still go outside and enjoy nature! If it’s windy, take a walk in the woods where the trees shelter you. Strap on some snowshoes and get a little exercise. Michigan has many trails where a snowy, peaceful forest can fill you with good vibes. Those same trails can offer cross-country skiing; the rhythmic gliding can calm jangled nerves. Have kids and grandkids? Build a snowman, have a snowball fight, build an igloo, sled down a hill. If you can, walk to the store or post office. But get out of the house and breathe some fresh air!

For more ideas on how to enjoy nature with kids, click HERE.


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