Tag Archives: Nature

You are a miracle

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Seriously, do it now.

Life is amazing, nature is amazing, we are amazing.

Believe that, know it and remind yourself daily how fantastic it is.

Some days feel crappy, some days feel really hard, sometimes life doesn’t seem fair but for everyday you are alive, that is miraculous.

The fact you are born, are alive and are breathing means you are a miracle,

you have had a successful day because you got out of bed, your body is functioning and you are reading this!

Studies show how nature heals us

When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor.

This amazing article from National Geographic just confirms what my intuition has been telling me all these years, when you are surrounded by nature it has amazing benefits to your body and mind. Governments and institutions should take note of how beneficial planting more tress and keeping green spaces are.

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Get your family in nature and see them bloom

With the age of the internet firmly upon us and children staying indoors more because of all the consoles, tvs and computers not to mention phones that do everything except do the washing, this next generation isn’t spending time out doors in fresh air and nature. This can have a detrimental effect on their bodies and minds. shutterstock_247460536_446_294_84_int_s_c1                                                                                                   Photo from Natural health magazine

Being in nature gives you much-needed vitamin D, supports creativity and wellbeing, reduces stress, it also can improve nutrition too if a child is taught to grow veg or where the farm animals come from.

Improves social relations. Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005)
Improves self-discipline. Access to green spaces, and even a view of green settings, enhances peace, self-control and self-discipline within inner city youth, and particularly in girls (Taylor, Kuo and Sullivan, 2001).

Thinking about connecting with nature in this way brought me to this post on Natural health magazine:

Interacting with nature – whether rockpooling at the beach, striding through a forest to the accompaniment of birdsong, or meditating in a flowery meadow – is always a source of relaxation and enjoyment. However, communing with the natural world is so much more than just a nice way to spend the weekend. With friends, family or simply on your own, getting away from the rat race has a variety of health and therapeutic benefits. So next time the sun is shining, why not put aside the chores and enjoy the free rejuvenation session our environment can offer?

4 REASONS TO HEAD OUTSIDE
1 Working out gets easier

Ever wondered why you seem to have so much more energy, say, hill walking, than you do in the gym on a treadmill? A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found people who walked outside not only moved more quickly and felt less exhausted by the effort, but were also in a more positive frame of mind. And as if that wasn’t enough in itself, a Scottish study also found that walking in rural areas made thinking about a long to-do list feel far more manageable, while subjects in the city felt overwhelmed.

2 Fresh air is nature’s ritalin
Those of us who have children know that hyperactivity can be a big issue for so many families. However, outdoor play could well be a viable alternative to medication if a recent study is to be believed. Research from the University of Illinois found that exposing children to natural settings as part of their activities at school and at home appeared to be “widely effective” in reducing the symptoms of ADHD.

3 It actually makes you nicer!
No, really! A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin concluded that spending more time in nature and/or with wildlife enhances our social interactions and makes us a more valuable member of the community. In fact, researchers Weinstein, Przybylski and Ryan even found that subjects were more generous when giving money to others after spending some time in the great outdoors. Got to be good karma…

4 Even the view is good for you
Certain parts of our brain that control happiness and emotional stability are stimulated by vistas of mountains, woodland and other areas of natural beauty. A study by Chonnam National University in South Korea used MRI scans to track what happened when subjects looked at natural views, and found they experienced heightened activity in the anterior cingulated gyrus (the positive thinking section of our brain) and the basal ganglia (an area associated with happy memories). This even works when looking at photos of landscapes, but we’d still prefer to head for the hills!

 

Stay wild child!

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Raising 3 boys before the age of technology really hit I didn’t really worry about whether they got enough outside activity as most of the time was spent at the park or on the beach or playing in the street with other children. When they hit their teen years and gaming became really popular I lost them to a world of virtual reality, it was easy I suppose to just let them stay in their rooms and be occupied with bright flashy games they enjoyed playing, but now as they are nearly fully grown, I wonder if I have done them an injustice, should I have been more firm and made them go out and seize the day? When my partner and I reminise about our childhoods, its full of adventure, getting up to mischief and having fun. What will this generation talk about when they have children?, how many levels they achieved on a certain game? who has the most kills on Call of Duty?.

So when I read this article on The Telegraph, it really spoke to me, I hope it gives you some inspiration and you can catch your children whilst they are young enough before you realise time has flown by and they are all grown up and spotless 😉

In the living room of a spotless Richmond house, a group of mothers is talking about children playing with mud. Leading the discussion is Lucy Aitken Read, a mummy blogger and author whose latest book, 30 Days of Rewilding, urges families to get outdoors.

“Germs play an important role in our life and in keeping us healthy,” the 33-year-old tells her audience. “I think we need to educate ourselves more and not be afraid of mud.”

Lucy is fast becoming a poster girl for the modern-day Good Life. Two years ago, she and her husband Tim sold their south London home and decamped to a yurt in the middle of a forest in New Zealand with their two young children, Ramona, now four, and Juno, two.

The yurt itself wasn’t originally part of the plan, admits Lucy, who is in Britain visiting family and friends, but after they’d  bought some land they couldn’t find a housing option that was as beautiful, easy to put up and affordable.

More than 75,000 monthly readers now follow her family’s New Zealand adventures via her blog, and she also documents their experiences in parenting magazines and on websites.

“The more I interviewed people who have experience of getting in touch with the wild and saw the positive impact it had on their lives, the more excited I got,” she says.

Lucy, a former charity worker, and Tim were inspired to make their dream of a simpler, more natural life a reality after watching Revolutionary Road, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as a middle-class American couple who fantasise about escaping their suburban lifestyle but instead implode and self-destruct.

Lucy's daughter Juno 
Lucy’s daughter Juno Credit: Lucy Aitken Read

The Aitken Reads feared they were in danger of suffering a similar (although hopefully less violent) fate.

Sacrificing a sound footing on the London property ladder was a wrench, Lucy says,  but it was a small price to pay for giving their children a wild, outdoorsy childhood.

Two years into their new life, she says she feels a strength and sense of belonging that was missing in London. She is evangelical about life outdoors but is keen to point out that you don’t have to sell up and move to New Zealand to enjoy it.

She has plenty of ideas for those seeking wildness a little closer to home, from outdoor playgroups or setting the alarm an hour early for time outdoors before school and work, to carving a whistle out of a carrot, planting native wildflowers and making mud pies.

“I am fascinated by research showing the impact of time in nature on health and happiness,” Lucy says. “In Tokyo a study found elderly people who live within walking distance of an open space live longer than those who don’t. And there are studies showing the role mud can play in fighting depression.”

The Wild Network, a UK-based movement working to get more children outdoors, says the amount of time children spend playing outside has halved in one generation and only one in five children aged under 12 has a connection with nature.

Lack of time, the proliferation of technology, vanishing green spaces, a fear of stranger danger and a risk-averse society are all cited as barriers to time outdoors. The implications of “nature deficit disorder”, a term coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, are grave. A wide range of behavioural, emotional and physical problems can all be linked to too much time spent indoors.

Lucy urges parents not to give up on giving their children “wild” experiences in nature. “What I think is missing is the sense of get up and go. We should all just get outside and love it,” she says. “I wish parents would see the outdoors as a great opportunity rather than another thing you have to do so your children don’t suffer obesity and mental health problems.’ ”

The appetite for outdoor living is steadily increasing among families in Britain, with a growing number heading to established family-friendly festivals such as Camp Bestival, Shambhala and Womad as well as more intimate gatherings such as Starry Skies, a family camping festival for 200 people in Wales.

“Parents are desperately searching for ways to get their kids off screens and into the fresh air,” says Mark Sears, chief executive of The Wild Network. “Every day we read new research about the importance of getting kids outside – and people are finally beginning to notice.”

In the past three months more than 5,000 new members have joined The Wild Network and this summer campaigns such as the National Trust’s 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾, the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild and the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout encouraged families into the great oudoors.

Lucy hopes her book will inspire parents to coax their children away from technology and give them the chance to make their own adventures. 

“They remember that outdoorsy experiences formed some of the best bits of their own childhoods,” she says. “Everyone needs to taste the freedom of the wild.”

Top tips for getting your children outdoors

  • Put the children in charge of watering the plants.
  • Plaster a bit of fence with some claylike mud from the garden and let them mould and shape faces with it until you have a wall of gargoyles.
  • Play wild bingo with free downloadable printouts – try seedsandstitches.com.
  • Go to a beach and make sand sculptures using what the tide washes up.
  • Play bowls – everybody loves it, from toddlers and teens to Granny and Grandad.
  • Play outdoor Sardines or What’s The Time Mr Wolf. If you’ve forgotten how, Google it.
  • Lie back on a rug and stargaze.
  • Make your own nature table.
  • Play Pooh sticks.
  • Cook on a campfire and tell stories around it.

Posted originally on The Telegraph

Foraging for beginners

Good ideas when foraging!
Learn to identify plants correctly and investigate all their uses. Many plants are not suitable for certain long term illnesses so make sure you check them out first.
Learn to identify the poisonous plants in your area. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING YOU CANNOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFY AND DEEM SAFE.

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