Why Get Outside?
There are many physical and mental benefits experienced by going outdoors. Natural sunlight has been shown to mitigate pain, ease depression, and boost levels of vitamin K – fighting inflammation and osteoporosis. Taking short outdoor walks has been shown to increase focus and improve creativity. Kids, especially, need to get outside. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends kids spend a total of sixty minutes per day vigorously playing – and you don’t need that inside the house!
Children who spend more time outdoors tend to be happier, have better vision, and spend less time on electronics. The “1000 Hours Outside” project suggests that children spend at least three hours, three days per week, outside. Check out their website for more on the benefits of being outdoors, plus, download free outdoor guides for your city.
Getting outside is especially important for children and parents experiencing divorce. Stress levels are higher, cortisol levels may be deregulated, and both anxiety and fatigue are common. Sunshine, fresh air, and laughter are some of the best medicines for these ills.
How To Fit Outdoor Time Into Your Busy Schedule
• Incorporate a daily after-dinner walk
• Have one or two meals per week outdoors
• Buy a soccer ball and head to a stretch of concrete or grass
• Purchase bubbles at your local dollar store
• Set up an outdoor office where you can work, and your kids can do homework, at the park or on the patio
• Find a short hike near your house, and make it a goal to visit once per week
• Pick up tennis racquets or a basketball from your local goodwill; find the closest parks that have good courts. Keep your racquets and balls in the car, so it is easy to swing by the park on your way home
• Take a nature walk – using the time to notice the sounds, smells, and sensations of nature
• Try “grounding” – laying or walking barefoot in a safe outdoor space
• Pretend you are a tourist. Google “things to do outside in (your town) and make a plan for some weekend fun
Remember to be safe outside! Wear sunscreen, use bug spray, and always wear a lifejacket in open water and rivers. Do not worry about making outside time insta-worthy. Just get out there! You and your children will feel less stressed, healthier, and happier – for free!