Nature Deficit Disorder
Nature Deficit Disorder, is a phrase coined by author Richard Louv who writes about the benefits of a connected relationship with the natural world – and the risks inherent when we lack one. His research suggests that being familiar with, spending time in, and feeling like a part of nature builds better communities and human bonds, and promotes wellness. It also suggests that we have become more and more disconnected from nature, and are suffering for it.
Experience shows me that this is true. When I spend time out doors my sense of wellbeing is improved. I feel more energetic, I sleep better, my mood improves. But I am also very familiar with some of the barriers that can stand in the way of getting outside. Anything from disability, to safety concerns, time constraints, and access to natural areas can keep us isolated from the natural world. But it doesn’t have to be a grand hike in the wilderness to be of benefit. Since we are part of nature, nature is all around us, so we only have to take the time to look.
I make an effort to get out for a walk in the woods or along a waterway a few times a month. I don’t always meet this goal during winter but I think that watching the snow fall from the comfort of your kitchen counts ;) Turn off the tv and the computer, and sit at the window with a mug of tea and watch, really watch, for a little while. It works.
Last year, my son spent two weeks backpacking in the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. It was an experience that changed him. We can’t all afford the time or expense, nor do we all have the physical ability to experience a trip like that, but luckily, the spectrum of nature experiences is wide, and we have only to jump where we can.
Here are some more accessible ways to create a stronger connection with nature:
- keep a nature journal
- plan a monthly hike with friends. Many trail associations describe trail difficulty levels in their guides, so you can choose something suitable.
- take a few minutes to sit quietly outside and feel the sunshine and the wind on your skin.
- pick up a field guide and learn to identify your local birds, wildflowers, or insects.
- commit to exploring one new location every month.
- picnics are lovely, and the more you go on, the better you get at planning and packing.
- cemeteries can be lovely places to walk. They are quiet, and usually have mature trees and a surprising amount of wildlife.
Nature Journal: Feb ’17 Photo Gallery
I like to keep a photo journal, combining my love of photography with my love of nature. Here is my photo gallery for February. Click on any image for the full-size slideshow. And most of all, get outside.
February can be very cold and icy here, so it’s harder to get outside. But this month, we had some unseasonably warm weather over several days and I was able to fit in two hikes. One afternoon, a couple friends and I went on a photo walk. We hiked through woods, and along a stream and a marsh. Since we were all taking photographs, none of us felt rushed along. Then a few days later, I hiked again with family. I was glad for the chance to get out for several hours at a stretch and visit the natural spaces I’d been missing all winter.