If you're looking to disconnect and reconnect with nature, you're not alone. Technology has transformed the way we teach and learn, making our lives easier and more efficient in countless ways. But it's important to remember that there are negative effects associated with too much screen time. Consequently, anxiety, depression, and decreased cognitive skills can be negatively affected.
That's where the power of nature comes in.
But are we too dependent on all those glowing screens? Some of us are quite aware of the high need we have for technology. (Ask yourself this: how do you feel if you are away from your phone?) For many of us, it has even hit addiction levels, which can be dangerous. Too much screen time is known to cause anxiety and depression, diminish communication skills, and shrink our memory and analytical thinking.
Disconnect and Reconnect With Nature
In today’s world, it is truly difficult, if not impossible, to live productive lives without the use of some technology. But with anything else, a good balance helps prevent the detrimental side effects of screen time. With all the time most of us spend with computers and smartphones both at work and at home, it’s a good idea to carve an intentional break for our screen-weary eyes, minds, and bodies.
Disconnecting and reconnecting with nature is a great way to counter your screen time. Furthermore, with spring right around the corner, it’s a great time to start up some new habits.
In fact, scientific evidence provides overwhelming benefits to being outdoors. A simple walk in the woods can boost your mood, increase cognitive skills, and create time for deeper connection (within yourself or with others).
Here are some easy, everyday ideas to disconnect from your devices and reconnect with nature:
- Take a walk. Perhaps the simplest and easiest of ideas. Throw on some comfortable sneakers and stroll around your neighborhood or a local park. You can use this as “alone” time to decompress and shake off your day. Similarly, you can use this to connect–with a loved one, a friend, or even a pet. Even a short walk outside in the fresh air will do you some good!
Go on a hike. Hiking can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and combat heart disease, among other benefits. Fall seems to get all the glory for its beautiful colors, but hiking can be enjoyed year-round. Each season will look, feel, and even smell unique. For example, a winter trek through the woods provides farther views, brighter sunshine, and longer shadows than you would find in the summer when the leaves are filled in.
More Reconnection Ideas
- Plant a garden. There is something so quietly therapeutic about planting, nurturing, and watching something grow. Weeding is often symbolic of removing the negative voices in your life, whether they be at work, at home, or within your own mind. Gardening is also another great way to spend time with others; kids love getting their hands dirty and will love to see their hard work pay off!
- Utilize that old bike. Road biking and mountain biking are both excellent ways to get some outdoor exercise. Additionally, if you live in a bikeable community, using your bike to get around is one of the best things you can do. (Just think of the money you could save on gas!)
Even More Ideas!
- Visit a farmers market. You need to shop for groceries anyway, so a visit to your local farmers market is a great way to turn it into something more fun. You’ll support local businesses, find fresh, healthy foods and other unique products. Plus, you’ll be sure to meet some interesting people along the way, conversing with folks you may never have met otherwise!
- Have a picnic. During the 2020-2021 school year, my co-teachers and I took our classes outside to eat as a part of our pandemic precautions. And you know what? We loved it so much that it stuck around afterward. There’s something about having a meal outdoors that feels more relaxing. A new setting–one that is decidedly away from televisions, laptops, or tablets–is a great place to converse with others or reflect on your own.
Students can also reap the benefits of outdoor time, and it is good for them to see you model healthy screen balance. Consider ditching the devices and having class outside. You can have outdoor reading/discussion time, use green space to reenact scenes from a story you are studying, or just have students grab a clipboard for guided/independent practice. (And check out these STEM-specific outdoor ideas.) There are tons of ideas out there; we love the 1000 Hours Outside movement, where you can find fun ideas, trackers, and even curriculum to help break the kiddos out of the building! At the end of the day, disconnecting and reconnecting with nature is important for your well-being!
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