Stressed Out? Let Nature Help You With That

Spending time in nature lowers our stress hormones. It's a natural mood-booster. It strengthens the immune system.

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Nature is a free, easy and powerful antidote to stress. Whose kids aren't stressed? Mine are, and so am I! Plus, between work, school and sports practices we're inside all day. We're lucky if we see the sun. And that's terrible.

In a video where Richard Louv walks around the woods while discussing themes from his book, Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Defecit Disorder, Louv says, “Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children's health (and also, by the way, in our own).”

Spending time in nature lowers our stress hormones. It's a natural mood-booster. It strengthens the immune system. Being outside in nature is the ultimate de-stressor. The Japanese call it "forest bathing.

"It can change the brain for the better," I told my son after school one day as we strolled around the neighborhood with no particular goal other than picking up pinecones. It was relaxing. We both felt less stressed. "Plus," I told him, "you're getting your vitamin D."

According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) the many health benefits of being outside include:

-Increased fitness levels and healthy bodies as a result of outdoor play

-The potential to reduce ADHD symptoms by spending time in the natural environment  

-Higher levels of vitamin D

-Lower stress levels

To get all these brain-changing benefits? Simple. You just have to open the door. Parents and teachers have to model for our kids unplugging from our devices and walking out of the house and into the world. The best mental health field trip may simply be to go outside. Here are some fun starter tips to reigniting kids’ relationship to nature:

-Check out the NWF’s nature-focused teaching resources! Complete with lesson plans for kids of all ages.

-Make your yard (or the schoolyard!) a certified wildlife habitat

-Take a hike

-Raise and release butterflies

Visit the Children & Nature Network for more outside activities for your children and schools.