Is it possible that only 20 minutes per day spent in nature is enough to soothe your soul? Yep, 20 minutes. You can do that on your lunch break.
For those of you who have been around for a while, you may remember my old blog Wholesome Paradise (now defunct, seeing as how I no longer live in Hawaii). You may also remember the Healthy Blogger Book Club that Carrie and I hosted each month. One of the books we read for our book club was called The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age by Richard Louv. This book really opened my eyes to the nature deficit epidemic that's plaguing society.
Yes, Nature Deficit Disorder is a real disorder. It's a term that was coined by Louv to describe the idea that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors and that this change is resulting in a wide range of behavioral and mood disorders.
A study conducted by the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability in the summer of 2018 aimed to find out just how much or how little time humans would need to spend outdoors interacting with nature to reap healing benefits. Their conclusion was that most people saw benefits in as little as 20 minutes per day, or about 2 total hours per week.
One result of this study is that urban planners and developers are now trying to figure out ways they can incorporate more green space into cities. Not too long ago, green spaces in cities were being replaced by buildings and parking lots. But the pressure is on to bring back green space so that humans can connect with nature daily even if they don't live in rural areas.
As an educator, I see the detrimental effects that a lack of connection with nature has on children. I remember as a child growing up in the '80s-'90s I spent a lot of time outdoors, but that's just not the case these days. Children have more access to activities such as video games and endless TV programs to occupy them indoors. They really don't have much desire to go outside.
Adults are much more disconnected from nature these days as well. And mood disorders are on the rise because of it. Some doctors are now even prescribing time spent in nature for their patients with depression instead of prescribing antidepressants.
"The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician."
So if you're feeling rather stressed, depressed or disconnected, it might do you some good to go outside and spend at least 20 minutes connecting with nature. Take a walk. Sit on a park bench and read. Take some food scraps to a lake and feed some ducks. The possibilities are numerous.