Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Three Good Reasons to Get Outside

Ask the Life Coach

Dear Coach,

I need some encouragement to spend more time in the beautiful nature that surrounds us here on Marco Island. As I stay-safe-at-home, I seem to become less inclined to get outside even though I know it is safe to do so (as long as I stay at a distance from others). 

Can you give me some practical, motivating reasons to open my front door and step outside? 

Signed,

Housebound


Dear Housebound,

I know how you feel. Between the extreme heat and the virus, I’m also inclined to stay put inside. We’re not alone. According to research, American adults spend more than 90% of their lives indoors, while children average only four to seven minutes per day playing outdoors. 

Richard Louv, in his book “Last Child in the Woods,” referred to this as “nature-deficit disorder.” Louv believes it is one reason for the rising rates of depression and anxiety in children. 

You’re right, the great outdoors is good for us in many ways and we need to get ourselves up and out the door. Here are three factors that make nature a part of who we are. Perhaps they will motivate both of us to get off the couch.

  1. Nature is beautiful. Beautiful scenery, like a sunset over the Gulf, pelicans fishing for their dinner, or a bird-of-paradise blooming in the yard, induce a sense of wonder in us. We are soulful creatures and beauty is good for the soul. 
  2. Nature is relaxing. Studies show that spending time in nature calms the nervous system and reduces levels of stress hormones. This makes our immune systems stronger (very important in the age of COVID), helps improve our sleep, and lifts our mood.
  3. Nature speaks to us. Plants and trees release beneficial chemicals and provide a pleasant sensory experience. Humans evolved to be outdoors; it’s part of what makes us human. 

Research tells us that the biggest impact occurs in the first five minutes of being in nature. So, whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, get outside and enjoy a swim, a walk, lunch on the deck, or a stroll around the garden. You and I will be glad we did!

Mershon Niesner is a Certified Life Coach and author of “Mom’s Gone, Now What? Ten Steps to Help Daughters Move Forward After Mother Loss” which is available on Amazon. For more information, visit www.mershonniesner.com. Email your coaching questions to askcoachmershon@gmail.com. Your identity will be kept confidential. 

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