Updated: Aug 13, 2018
First things first: What is nature-deficit disorder?
Nature-deficit disorder isn’t a diagnosis. It’s a term coined by Journalist Richard Louv “to describe the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years.”
In other words, as modern societies have “progressed” into concrete jungles and city life routines, we’ve largely lost touch with our natural environments—much to our personal and communal detriments.
Nature is a powerful teacher and healer. Distancing ourselves has done us harm.
So why should you care? Because chances are, you're in need a good dose of nature, too.
The benefits are massive, cost-effective, and don’t come with negative side-effects (besides maybe mosquito bites and a tick or two).
Spending time in nature helps combat depression. It reduces mental fatigue, stress, and anxiety. It helps kids with ADHD focus.
As if that wasn’t enough, nature often encourages some level of bodily movement (maybe you’re walking through the woods, exercising through gardening, swimming in a lake, etc.). We all know how good exercise is for our mental health—and exercising outdoors does double-duty.
It’s never too late to reconnect with nature.
You don’t need to wait for a doctor’s referral, an appointment, or anything to “kick-in” —nature is always there waiting for you to reap its benefits.
Simple ways to reconnect with nature:
1. Pick up some plants
You can even find free ones on sites like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. Adding a few indoor houseplants helps you feel more connected to the natural world. If you can, plant an outdoor garden and tend to it daily. The benefits for your mental health are unique to you but nonetheless undeniable. It’s science. Gardening is good for the mind, body, and spirit.
2. Go for a walk or wheel
Your options definitely depend on where you live and what you’re physically capable of. For some people, nature means mountains and lakes and forests and trails. For others, it’s wandering in a Garden Centre or city park and smelling the flowers or feeding the birds. Whatever it is, do it. Anything is better than nothing.
3. Soak up some sun
Again, anything is better than nothing. Get outside for a second and close your eyes while the sun beams on your face.
If you can, take advantage of sleeping, cooking, and relaxing outdoors for a whole weekend (or week).
5. Climb a tree, roll down a hill, PLAY OUTDOORS
If you have kids, let them guide you. Ask them what they want to do outdoors and follow suit. If you don’t have kids, try to remember what it was like to be one and use that as inspiration to get silly outside.