What is Nature Deficit Disorder? While Nature Deficit Disorder is not a medical condition, it gives definition to the damage to children, adults, families and communities that come from living alienated from nature. NDD is a term used to describe the harmful impact of the over stimulating digital age that separates us from interacting in natural environments. Some people adapt without any difficulty, but for a growing number of individuals the reality of digital living means increased attention difficulties, obesity, anxiety and depression. Multiple in-depth studies have proven that consistent contact with organic soils causes several positive reactions in our bodies. The exposure to the microorganisms found in the earth around us builds strong immune systems, reduces allergy sensitivities, improves emotional health and even increases cognitive abilities. Basically, all that sandbox time, mud pies and playing with Tonka trucks is really good for us!
The best way to reduce the risk of NDD for yourself or your children is to get outside!
Here are a few practical suggestions to help you re-connect with the environment:
PLAY – outside and often. Unstructured time outside builds creative thinking and problem solving as well as combating stress, anxiety, depression and obesity. Children with even 15 minutes a day of unstructured play time in green spaces were 40% more likely to rest better and perform better in school. This, however, does not include time spent in structured sporting events. Ride a bike, dig a hole, build something, pretend & imagine, find shapes in the clouds or count bugs you see while on a walk. When you are outside, the sky truly is the limit!
GARDEN – My obvious favorite! Plant something! Plant anything! Plant something that will flower and something you can eat. Plant in the ground or in a container, just plant something! Touch some soil and interact with nature. Learn what will draw butterflies to your yard or what might bring a favorite bird in to view in your landscape.
ENJOY – Place a chair in a shady spot in the yard and whenever weather permits, take time to observe your surroundings, read a book or share a conversation.
SCHEDULE – Yes, schedule time to be unscheduled! Make a plan to learn what your area has to offer for enjoying the outdoors. Scout out area parks and other green spaces. Carve out time every week to ensure you and your family are doing a complete digital disconnect and re-connect with nature.