Spending a week living in our camper in state parks, surrounded by forests and trees, lakes and streams, sunshine and blue sky, is a centering experience for me. It brings me back to my essential self. Although I try to get outside most days, my life is filled with obligations toward kids and other family, my home, my work, and even my blogs. I spend an enormous amount of time on my laptop, and when I leave the house, it is usually to run all over town doing errands or racing to get my father-in-law to a doctor's appointment or some other urgent matter. When we are camping, there is no internet, no electronics of any sort (we do bring our cell phones in case of emergency but we don't have smart phones), no obligations, and no to-do list taunting me!
|Enjoying the outdoors at Emerald Lake State Park in Vermont|
It turns out I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Lots of research has been done on the effects of nature on people, much of which Florence Williams describes eloquently in this brief TED Talk:
She cites studies that have found that time in nature - even as little as 1 minute! - reduces stress, improves creativity, reduces self-criticism, and increases kindness. Spending time in nature has very real physical effects on us humans, including improving our immune function, as measured by Natural Killer cell function - something everyone with ME/CFS certainly needs! Williams also describes various projects being undertaken around the world to make nature more available and accessible, even to city dwellers - there's some pretty cool stuff going on! South Korea is even creating "healing forests" across the nation, where people can enjoy the healing effects of nature, both by themselves and in guided activities.
Back home, I have a long-standing goal to spend at least 10 minutes a day outdoors. That may not sound like much, but the research says it helps....all I know is that I feel better when I connect with the outdoor world each day. Today, I took a short walk around my neighborhood and am now writing this out on my back deck, lying in my favorite comfy bungee chair, looking up at the sky, feeling the breeze, and listening to the birds in the trees.
|My favorite outdoor spot at home on our back deck|
Try it yourself! Make time each day to get outside, even if it's just out to your own backyard or deck or patio for a few minutes. Lie down in a hammock or reclining chair. Leave the electronics inside and tune in to the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of being outdoors - you'll be amazed at what you notice!
I wrote another post about nature, based on the inspiring words of Anne Frank, an older post on The Joy of the Outdoors, and a recent post about exactly HOW people with chronic illness can manage to enjoy camping and the outdoors, based on our own experiences.
How do YOU enjoy the outdoors? What positive effects have you noticed from being in nature?