You’re at your desk in a bad mood. Nothing is going right, and you’re stuck. You decide to take a walk around the block, and the sunshine, fresh air and scenery gets you out of your head and into the present. Boom! You’re feeling refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.
Spending more time outside is good for us all. You may have heard of the 1,000 Hours Outside challenge, which encourages people to spend less time on the couch and more time outdoors in order to “reclaim childhood, reconnect families, and live a fuller life.” Sure, 1,000 hours may be a bit ambitious for most of us, but any time in nature is beneficial for the soul and spirit, not to mention your wellness.
Time in nature can help reduce stress, increase your fitness if you’re walking, biking, gardening or running, boost your creativity, and help you get that all-important vitamin D. However, busy schedules, long days in the office, and family commitments mean we don’t get outside as much as we should. If you’re ready to embark on your own version of the challenge, here are a few of our favorite ways to increase your time in the natural world.
Create a challenge.
Yes, 1,000 hours seems ambitious, but maybe 30 minutes a day feels doable for you? What portion of time would be actionable, not overwhelming? Start small and go from there.
Turn it into a work challenge!
Get your coworkers and teammates involved and encourage them to spend more time outdoors too.
Move your hobbies and daily activities outdoors.
Maybe you’re a painter — why not take your easel or drawing pad outside? If you run on the treadmill at the gym, try doing laps around the neighborhood or at a nearby park instead. Read on the porch or the patio instead of on the couch. If you can, have dinner outside! Small shifts can make a big difference.
Book an outdoorsy weekend trip.
Go skiing, snowboarding or cross-country skiing in the winter. In the summer, swim and play on the beach. When you book your vacations according to the weather and accompanying outdoor activities, you’re bound to spend way more time outside than in the hotel.
Plant a garden.
If you’ve got the space, plant a garden this spring or spend more time in your existing one. Try growing something you’ve never grown before.
Buy a pass for the local pool.
Let your kids swim off all that energy. (Just remember to load up the sunscreen.)
Make it a ritual.
Have your morning coffee or tea or nighttime beverage outdoors. Just sit quietly and observe your surroundings or let your mind wander.
Create challenges for your kids.
Each day, ask them to find something outside: a cool leaf, colorful rocks, an interesting snow formation, whatever. Make it a challenge or a scavenger hunt to keep them engaged.
Make a regular walk date.
With your dog, your neighbor, a family member, or anyone you’d like to see more regularly. Catch up and get your steps in together.
Take your lunch break outside.
Get away from your desk and into the fresh air.
Make outside time mandatory.
On the weekend, consider implementing a rule where the whole family must spend an allotted time outside.
Get a dog!
Dogs need to be walked. Walks happen outside, resulting in daily minutes toward your goal. Done and done.
Have a dance party in the yard.
Pull up Spotify or Apple Music and get moving with your partner, your family, or even by yourself.
Keep the devices in the house and look for shooting stars and constellations instead of staring at Instagram.