The power of the outdoors – Be Present, live in the moment

How many times do we wish it could be the weekend as we face a tough meeting on a Wednesday morning, or planning our next holiday and all of a sudden, it’s Christmas!

That has happened to me, far too often. I was reminded recently, by the cheeky smile of a young person, that we need to live in the moment, be present and enjoy everything about the process rather than focus on the outcome.

The outdoors, has for many, become a sanctuary, a place to escape the hussle and bussle of our busy lives. But why is the outdoors so good for us?

It is reported in many research papers, that spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits including:

  • reduces the risk of type II diabetes,
    • reduces cardiovascular disease,
    • reduces high blood pressure
    • reduces anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health issues
  • regulates your immune system by giving your body a boost of Vitamin D
    • improves your vision, by getting away from the blue light emitted from screens
    • improves mental clarity and creativity
    • clears your lungs and gives you a boost of energy

So, knowing all this, why wouldn’t we spend a part of each day outside?

The Japanese have developed this further and created Forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku), meaning, using all of one’s senses – don’t just simply go for a walk in the woods, but be conscious of your surroundings, immerse the senses of sight, hearing, and smell.  I love this concept and do my best to start each new day with a walk outside, but how many times do I block these senses, by listening to a podcast or music on my earphones?

I write and reflect on this with a wry smile, as when working with children with disabilities, we focus on the senses, ensuring the environment is sensory, watching the children’s faces light up when they feel a different texture under their fingertips, or watch them tracking the lasers of light across the walls with their eyes and finding out what sounds encourage different responses.

So, as we continue to live with Covid 19 as part of our lives, remember that being active is very important and that we should spend more time outdoors, being present.

The newly resource from SENSE entitled Sensory Walks, have been developed for people with complex needs. Take a Look, it’s a great initiative linked with Ordnance Survey.

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