Are You Suffering From Nature Deficit Disorder?

by Christine Sine

I am sitting at our dining room table working and looking out at the beauty of an early summer’s day in Seattle.  We are so blessed at the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors not not just in times of leisure but also in our work.

My focus for the morning has been looking at innovative new green technologies which in many ways is related to my enjoyment of the outdoors and the beauty of God’s world.  After all we will never be able to preserve this beauty unless we encourage conservation and sustainable lifestyles.  The most interesting that has caught my attention is a new clothes washer that uses virtually no water as well as less electricity.

My attention has also been caught by what a growing number are calling nature deficit disorder.  I don’t think that we realize the consequences to our health – both physical and spiritual of lives that are spent inside under artificial light.  Insomina, depression, and of course obesity are all linked to sedentary indoor lives.  Kids in particular suffer from nature deficit disorder and as I have mentioned in a previous post even attention deficit disorder can be alleviated by encouraging kids to spend more time outdoors.

But what can those who spend their work time inside do to alleviate this.  Here are some tips that I have garnered from friends

  1. Always eat lunch outside in your closest green strip or go for a walk at lunch time even when it is raining.  You may not want to sit outside in inclement weather but even ten minutes spent outside in all weather can greatly improve our health.
  2. Get a plant or a small fish tank for your workspace or home.  You may even like to volunteer to look after plants in other parts of the office.  Certain kinds of indoor plants improve air quality dramatically.  Top of the list are philodendrons, English Ivy and spider plants.
  3. Start a garden on your balcony, in your backyard or even in the parking strip.  This will force you to get outside at least once a day if for no other reason than to see how things are growing.  If you have kids make sure they have their own little garden – wither a container or a section of your backyard and let them choose at least one new plant to grow in your garden as well each year.
  4. Get a pet.  To be honest before we acquired Bonnie, our golden retriever, tom and I were not good at walking regularly but now we walk around Greenlake (a 3 mile trek) at least 3 times a week.
  5. Walk, run or cycle to work at least once a week.
  6. Plan at least one outdoor activity on your day off – preferably something a little more strenuous than sitting in the stadium watching the local ball game.
  7. Take your kids on an overnight camping trip or plan some summer hikes.  This is a great way not only to introduce kids to the outdoors but also to give them experiences that will connect them to God’s world in ways that other wise would not experience.
  8. Go for a prayer walk around your neighbourhood or city once a week.
  9. Volunteer at your local community garden or get your family or community to adopt a street and go out to pick up trash once a week.
  10. Visit the local zoo regularly – this is not just for kids.  The last time I went to the zoo with an overseas friend was a fun and stimulating experience.

What are your suggestions?  How can we both encourage more sustainable green living habits and help all of us who live in cities overcome our nature deficit disorder?

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