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Why We Should Get Out In Nature More

As human beings, we are natural creatures, and returning to our roots can help us restore our minds and cultivate harmony and happiness far too many seem to be missing.

As human beings, we are natural creatures, and returning to our roots can help us restore our minds and cultivate the harmony and happiness far too many seem to be missing.

Spending time in an outdoor natural space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. For example, doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors, foraging for wild food, or being around animals can have lots of positive effects. Being in nature can:

  • improve your mood
  • reduce feelings of stress or anger
  • help you take time out and feel more relaxed
  • improve your physical health
  • improve your confidence and self-esteem
  • help you be more active
  • help you meet and get to know new people
  • connect you to your local community
  • reduce loneliness
  • help you feel more connected to nature

Being in nature can come in many different forms. The important thing is to put your phone down, and enjoy what’s right around you!

Learning to keep bees or grow a pollinator garden are great ways to get outside and learn about nature while being in it. You can also find an animal you enjoy watching and just sit with a cold glass of water and enjoy them! I do this with my ducks. I love to just watch them play in their pond and simply be.

When I grow kale, bok choy, spinach, and arugula in my greenhouse, I use the plants for food, but never completely cut them back and kill them off. I work with nature, and allow the plants to flower and go to seed (and I’m still using the leaves at this point). This is what plants do naturally. In the fall, the flowers die off, and the seeds fall into the soil in my greenhouse and reseed themselves. By the end of April (in agricultural zone 4) I am having fresh bok choy, kale, spinach, and arugula! This simple thing gives me so much joy knowing that we can work with nature and don’t always have to micromanage it or plan to buy more seeds for everything.

We also like to walk around and look for wild edible plants. We have tons of yarrow and dandelion. Most people use toxic chemicals to remove dandelion or clover from their grass. We, on the other hand, let it all go mowing only a few times in June, then again in August. But even then, we only mow sections. We have honey bees and they love the early-season dandelions and mid-season clover we get. Again, we like to work with nature and let it do what it does best rather than turn nature into a perfectly symmetrical landscape with a weedless lawn.

Getting outside and weeding your vegetable garden is also a great way to connect with nature. You can see how your plants are doing and even learn about the weeds you are discarding. Maybe some of those are edible and can be added to your vegetable harvest for the day. You just never know what kinds of things you will learn to enjoy as you continually get some fresh air, and sunshine, and enjoy what the earth has provided to us.

Most Americans are vitamin D deficient. That means too many are staying indoors and not letting the sun give them this vital nutrient.  Lack of vitamin D is linked to rickets (soft, weak bones) in children and thinning bones in the elderly, but scientists also believe it may play a role in heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This essential vitamin is made from cholesterol in your skin when it’s exposed to the sun. That’s why getting enough sunlight is very important for maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. The sun is the best source of vitamin D and it’s free! Supplements can give a small boost, but it’s hard to get enough from a supplement, and they can get expensive!

You could also eat vitamin D-rich foods, but it would take a lot of them, and there is only a handful with sufficient amounts. These include cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, canned tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, and sardines. That said, you would need to eat a lot of them nearly every day to get enough vitamin D. So it’s vital to human health to get some sun. That will mean, getting out in nature! Sitting by a window is not good enough. The sun’s UVB rays cannot penetrate through windows. So people who work next to sunny windows are still prone to vitamin D deficiency.

According to scientific recommendations, wearing a tank top and shorts for 10–30 minutes three times per week during the summer should be sufficient for most people with lighter skin. People with darker skin may need a bit longer than this. You can take this time to walk or hike. You could weed the garden. You could simply just be outside, or you could grab your books and forage for a few wild edible plants.

Starting small and understanding what nature (including the sun) can offer us can be the key to health, wellness, and happiness!

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on August 12th, 2022