We humans are a funny lot really. You would think that once we discover something good for our wellbeing, we'd be instinctively wired towards repeating the behaviour again and again. But it doesn't seem to work that way.
Yes, I feel a short lived burst of endorphins when I exercise, but then my brain discovered it could get the same feel good factor from eating chocolate. Not Fair. Guess what happened when my brain discovered chocolate, red wine and a box set of Friends - I swam in an endorphins bath of bliss!
When you look at many other species, they are blindly driven by a need to survive and procreate. But not us. Yes, we'll go about avoiding death, and procreating, in a fairly driven way- but we have many other influences on our daily behaviour, other than getting through the day and ensuring the survival of the species (if only it were that simple!).
We can get hijacked by emotions, how things make us feel, and our deep rooted attitudes to things. Maybe this is what makes our lives more complicated than the apparent simplicity of other species- something makes us feel good, we seek more. If something makes us feel better, we seek that out and forget the last thing. This makes for an endless carousel of emotions and distractions leading us around by our noses.
The good news is that being active in Nature also releases those same feel good endorphins, and fuzzy feelings, to attract us away from our cocoa scoffing, TV binging ways. And it ups the ante too by also reducing Cortisol, the stress hormones in our body, and lowering blood pressure. https://neurosciencenews.com/nature-cortisol-stress
Nature as a medicine isn't a new phenomenon, with people relying on it's healing powers for thousands of years, and modern pharmaceutical companies relying on the healing properties of plants for many medications. But, Nature Bathing, or exposure to Nature, is now also being used for medical purposes.
People suffering stress are being advised to take a 20 minutes "Nature Pill", as Nature is now being used to treat stress related illness and mental health issues A dose of nature: doctors prescribe a day in the park for anxiety (nbcnews.com) and as a "Nature Prescription" in Scotland for a range of medical ailments UK doctors are prescribing nature to patients - CNN.
So Nature has a lot to offer when it comes to wellbeing and health benefits - but it has a fight on it's hands when it comes to getting our attention in the first place.
This is why we need Intention
Intentions are based on the values we have and what matters most to us. Unless we catch ourselves, we can drift from one experience to another at the mercy of quick hit emotional reactions. Time seems to vanish from our day as we get sucked into activities with no clear goal or outcome in mind. The residue can be a vague, unsettled, feeling of having achieved nothing yet spent all our time.
Without Intention, we can be at the wheel, but driving without a map.
What it means to have Intention
Having Intention, means we consciously and deliberately plan to do something.
We put that something to the top of our priority list and remind ourselves to keep it there by taking notice of where we spend our time.
Having Intention gives us a clear purpose. All the less important fluff of life starts to scatter on the wind and we begin to live in a way which creates flow of thought, time and energy towards making sure our intentions are met.
Having Intention is important for many areas of our lives and the key is to identify what truly matters to us.
Our Intentions may change every day, or you may identify a small group of core intentions which remain constant as the things that really matter to you in your life. Once we have these clear intentions and priorities in mind, it's so much easier to deflect away unnecessary distractions, and keep these intentions at the fore of your life. You end your day having given time and energy in the areas of your life that matter most to you and this feels great.
Everyone's intentions and priorities will be different, but for me, my family are my number one priority. So, when I think about their wellbeing, including their health, growth and development, I am drawn to think about the health of our planet too. Because of the impact the health of our planet may have on our children's future lives, I find myself wanting to do my best to help them grow up to a planet that is as healthy as possible too. And failing that, at least help them understand about Climate Change and prepare them as best as I can for living in a world with such a daunting challenge to be faced. Yes, I'm just one person and my best may not amount to much in the grand scheme of things - but I feel strongly that helping families reconnect with Nature, and feel its benefits, will help protect Nature in the long run.
Making Time for the Outdoors
But it's not always easy cutting through the white noise of our lives to the really important things.
An article I read recently resonated with me when I was considering this topic. Nathanial Dunn talks about 3 simple strategies for making more time in your life in his article 3 ways to make more time in your life - Nathaniel Dunn Coaching.
Broadly, he says:
Recognise you have a choice where you spend your time - You get to decide what you spend your time on so think carefully about this when planning activities for yourself and your family.
Prioritise what is really important to you - get really clear about what's important. Is your families wellbeing a major priority for you? Then spending time outdoors and connecting with Nature will be a major part of ensuring the ongoing wellbeing for you all.
Make time for Space - carve out some time to just do nothing in particular. Being outdoors in Nature is a truly inspiring way to bring some space and perspective into our lives and it's impact can be truly life changing.
This same approach can be applied to many areas of our lives - including making time for the Outdoors and Nature.
Take a Positive Step Forward with NatureDays.ie
For this week, why not try one of the following for your own family:
Set your family on a course to connect with Nature and feel the benefits for wellbeing and health.
Inject some Intention into your day - what matters to you most and how are you going to make sure to give it the time and attention it deserves?
Take the 7 Nature Days Challenge to gently ease your family into a stronger Nature connection in just one week.
Because you will never regret taking the time to get outdoors, no matter how short the time, and feeling a growing connection with the Nature that surrounds us all.
If you want to find out more about why getting your family outdoors benefits you all, tips for increasing the time kids spend playing outdoors, fun and simple activities to try, connecting with Nature or Helping our Planet, check out my site www.naturedays.ie or follow me on Facebook & Instagram now.