This blog comes from Lily Carlson, travel blogger and social media influencer at Lily’s Lens on Life.
“Spending time in nature has a way of nourishing the soul”
Since I was a child, the outdoors has been linked to many incredible memories, such as hiking with friends, swimming in the lake with my cousins, and fishing with my grandparents. Heck, I even worked at summer camps for nine years during high school and college. So naturally (pun intended), the 30×30 Challenge seemed ideal!
The thing is, as a kid, I don’t think I ever thought much about my time in nature, other than the fact that I enjoyed it… it was fun. Now I see that there are many more benefits to spending time outdoors. By participating in the Ontario Parks 30×30 Challenge, I have also come to better understand its importance.
Here are some of the things I learned from my experience of spending 30 minutes in nature every day for 30 days:
The effects of nature are both mental. and physical
Sure, as a person who enjoys the outdoors, I would still wholeheartedly agree that spending time in nature is fun. That said, the benefits run much deeper than that.
Over the 30 days, I found that by spending this time outdoors, I was much more likely to be doing something active, whether it was biking, walking, swimming, or participating in a sport. The reality was that I moved often, giving my body much-needed exercise, which led to many physical health benefits.
This also meant he was less likely to be involved with any electronic devices. I was more likely to step away from the screens, take off my headphones, and just be present. This resulted in more benefits for my mental health and well-being.
Less screen time and more focus on the present moment meant practicing “mindfulness” – something I don’t think I do as often as I should! I found that being naturally mindful significantly reduced stress and actually put me in a better mood. The fresh air relaxed me, the incredible landscapes inspired me, and the experience rejuvenated me.
Additionally, by spending time in Ontario’s parks and being surrounded by others doing the same things I was doing (enjoying nature, being active, and spending time with loved ones), I was encouraged by the positive energy and appreciation for each other. for this land and what it offers us.
Sometimes it’s a matter of picking out nature
Seriously…as a working adult, “finding” 30 minutes in my day to spend outdoors wasn’t always easy. I quickly saw that it wasn’t about “finding” 30 minutes, but rather “making time for” 30 minutes.
Every day was conscious and intentional. This was amazing because it meant prioritizing 30 minutes in nature, which forced me to take important time for myself investing in my physical and mental health.
Sometimes this meant taking my lunch break outside the office at a nearby park, or turning off Netflix before bed to go watch the sunset, or heading out of town to stargaze late at night.
It also meant making the most of bad weather and sometimes having to find ways to enjoy the rain from a sheltered location, rather than hiding indoors. Other times, it was a matter of choosing to do whatever I was doing, outside (rather than inside, on the couch or at a desk), like reading a book, planning my week, or journaling.
Every day I was faced with choices about what to do and where, and it was surprising to realize how many things could be done outdoors or could wait until I had my 30 minutes. It made me see that sometimes it’s as simple as picking out nature.
It is VERY important to make time in nature a habit
I found that I was more likely to reap the benefits of spending time outdoors as the weather became regular. For example, during the first few days of the challenge, I found it harder to “turn my brain off.” It was more challenging to put my phone away, ignore my emails, and just enjoy all the wonders of nature.
However, towards the end of the challenge, I found that I was better able to reflect on the changes in my attitude and witness the positive effects of nature on my body when the 30 minutes rolled around.
Through this challenge I have realized that spending time in nature is not only something I enjoy, it is something I need. Honoring my body and its physical and mental needs, and picking out nature, I see that I am committing to a healthier and happier lifestyle.
This is what the 30×30 Challenge has meant for me.