The Great Outdoors
Despite my lack of athletic or gardening ability, I’ve always loved being outdoors. Then the other day I read something that made perfect sense to me.
Two researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found that spending time in natural settings, like forests or grassy parks, helps lessen symptoms for children with Attention Deficit Disorder.
The researchers, Andrea Faber Taylor and Frances Kuo, tested 2 groups of children with ADHD. One group spent time in natural settings and the other group spent time in either indoor playgrounds or outside in engineered play areas – the kind you find on school playgrounds, or in the city.
The group that spent time in the more natural settings showed fewer ADHD symptoms, especially when the time was spent within a small group.
You can use these findings to your own advantage by finding ways to bring nature into your life. Activities like hiking, camping, fishing and other outdoor pursuits are a great way to start, but not practical for everyday life.
While you may not get the same benefits as spending time in a natural setting, I think that just spending some time outdoors or around natural elements can help.
I have a friend who’s an amazing gardener and she has a breakfast nook with windows on three sides lined with plants. That way, even in the winter, she can enjoy a garden like experience.
You could try the same thing in your house, adding plants to an area where you or the family can go to relax.
If you have a child with Attention Deficit Disorder, you might want to add a plant or two to their room. When my children were younger, they enjoyed picking out their own plant and taking care of it.
Planting seeds indoors or planning a garden together are also good ideas.
Fresh flowers are another great idea. Don’t save them for special occasions; you can often get a simple bouquet in the grocery store for less than ten dollars. Put a few flowers in that special spot where you go to relax, and then maybe use the rest singly on everyone’s nightstand. Even my 23 year old son commented positively on that.
Another good idea is to take some pictures when you do take that camping trip, or go hiking or fishing and then display them in areas around the house. Just looking at them will be enough to bring back some of those same relaxing feelings you had then.
Finally, there’s a big difference between walking from your car to the front door, or from the parking lot to your office and being outdoors.
Yes, of course you’re outside when you’re doing those things, but they can hardly be counted as time spent outdoors. You can, however, make them more valuable experiences and more like spending actual time outside.
First, slow down a little. Next, as you walk from one place to another, take the time to enjoy the experience. Feel the sun or the breeze on your face. Notice the beautiful landscaping, or admire the sunset. Find something to appreciate.
Remember, people today with Attention Deficit Disorder were the hunters of centuries ago; nature is in their blood.