I will soon be adventuring the High Sierra Trail in California, no phone for eight days – the longest I have been disconnected from my kids. At first I felt guilty about this. And then I realized that my trail pleasures are a necessity for healthy living. There are lessons to be had from disconnecting (for both me and them!)
We Lead through Example.
The average American spends ONLY 7% of their entire life outdoors! And on top of that:
- Adults spend over 12 hours and 7 minutes each day consuming media.
- 50% of kids are addicted to their cell phones.
- 70% of adults sleep with their device (that’s just crazy!)
Me? I am a little bit old school. I love disconnecting from my phone and connecting with nature. I enjoy planning hikes, reading maps, picking berries and catching fish. And there is nothing more beautiful than watching the sunrise or set over a mountain peak! I value the good that technology has brought to society (two of my favorite Apps are Sky Guide and PeakFinder!), yet I don’t like the imbalance it has created with our culture.
Richard Louv, author of “The Nature Principle,” coined the phrase Nature Deficit Disorder to explain how our societal disconnect with nature and the outdoors is affecting our health. Symptoms of NDD include: attention problems, obesity, anxiety, depression, fear of the natural world and disregard for life.
Here’s the Good News!
More recent findings show that getting outside for as little as five minutes per day improves both mood and self-esteem! It’s no wonder that more North American doctors are incorporating “nature bathing” with their patients as a way to improve overall health! Nature-brain connection allows for clarity, happiness and the capacity for deeper thoughts.
When in nature, our frontal lobe of the brain slows (responsible for decision and task managing) while the cerebellum takes over (our sensory system – influencing our thoughts and emotions). Our dopamine levels rise providing zest for life. Stress levels decrease, which positively impacts the functioning of our nervous, endocrine and immune systems.
It’s simple: connect with nature – connect with ourselves!
So throw on your shoes and hit a trail. Grab your surfboard and catch a wave. Or lie in the grass and soak up the sun.
I promise, you won’t regret those five minutes. I assure you, I am not going to regret my eight days.
Words of Wisdom from Sara in the Red Heels
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