As a whole, Americans are spending less time outdoors and in nature. According to a Pew Research Center study, more than 20 percent of Americans report being online almost constantly. Because we are tied to our phones, computers, and tablets, we don’t take the time to enjoy what nature has to offer.

Being outdoors has associated health benefits. Nature provides a quiet space where we can take time for ourselves. Spending time outdoors can contribute to feelings of happiness, optimism, and reduced anxiety. The sights and smells that we experience when we are out in nature help to boost our senses. Some researchers have also linked time in nature to clearer thinking, increased creativity, and even resilency.

Nature can provide a decrease in repetitive thoughts that are focused on negative self view, known as rumination. You don’t have to spend hours and hours in nature to reap the benefits. Even taking just a 30 minute walk in green spaces can improve your overall mood and decrease rumination.

In recent years, more of our children are experiencing nature deficit disorder, the term used to describe a lack of time in nature and the associated negative effects. While the focus is often on children, adults are equally affected. Check out some ideas to help combat nature deficit disorder below.

As the weather warms up, it’s the perfect time to unplug, get outside, and explore our surroundings! The National Park Foundation is partnering with the National Parks Service to present National Park Week (April 15- 23). Park admission is free to the public on April 15-16 and April 22-23. Find your park!

Ideas to decrease nature deficit disorder:

  • Any green space can be beneficial, and you don’t have to go far. Check out your neighborhood park, local bike paths, or any areas with grass, trees, or gardens.
  • Don’t make being in nature a punishment for children spending too much time on devices or playing video games.
  • Make enjoying the great outdoors a social activity. Instead of going to the movies, go on a walk or picnic at a local park with a friend.

Sources: The Greater Good, UC Berkeley, Pew Research Center, The National Park Foundation. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.