The Importance of Being *Outside*
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be. – Anne Frank
The clocks have sprung forward, spring break season has started, and the world is in a state of change – happy spring everyone! It’s time to come out of the hot-chocolate-sipping, warm-cozy-clothes wearing hibernation from the last three months and see the sunshine. Though, this is a terrifically hard task given the amount of hardships that cover the pages of the news these days. Natural disasters, senseless killings, and government bickering seem to be all that fills our ears, not to mention the weight of our own personal feelings. It’s always around this spring cleaning time that I get the most emotional, disconnected, and confused. But, there was recently an article that has helped me to think of things differently – it told me to go outside.
This seems like simple advice, right? Our parents have been telling us for years to get off the computer and enjoy some fresh air. But, that’s difficult when social media and the deep space of the internet has so much for our minds and imaginations. The Huffington Post and New York Times both published studies about the health and emotional benefits of exercising, reading, and just being outside. So, this is nothing new, but I think it is particularly relevant this time of year and during out NIHN 2.0 campaign.
During college, I worked at ropes course that focused on teambuilding and communication for all kinds of groups- clubs, businesses, and everything in between. Whether it was snowing or hailing, we donned a post-officeesque mantra and marched outside despite the initial doubts and pleas of the participants. It always happened that the group completely changed as soon we started moving; there is just something about the magic of the outdoors that diffuses our minds and lets our bodies become aware in a whole different way. And, for many of the participants, the outdoors created a space to talk about frustrations, emotions, reflections, and thoughts that can’t often come out in a classroom or behind a computer screen. Yesterday, I was remembering some of these groups when I decided to go for a late run to clear my head. The loss of a loved one, work, and friends seemed to be all I could think about, despite my best efforts to get lost in the world of On the Road. It was only when I walked outside, felt the wind, and watched the sunset that changed my whole perspective. And, it made my love the earth even more. (Has anyone seen that scene in Titan A.E?)
There is a growing movement in our society that is bringing things back to being local. More and more restaurants and food stores have unprocessed, organic, fair trade products. This is wonderful for our communities, farmers, and workers who give us healthy food for our souls and bodies. However, I often forget how much effort the entire process actually is. Being outside, I remembered how I am completely incapable of even growing simple herbs – I definitely did not inherit a green thumb. However, a few years ago, my town opened up space for a community garden, with each person getting a small plot of land. Ever since, people are constantly out helping, talking, and working with each other – and there is a huge sense of accomplishment and community (even if the rabbits do eat your tomatoes). For the HPA and NIHN 2.0 to be a lasting success, we need this community thought to stick and connect to more people. Perhaps if more people went outside, they would start to understand where the cause begins.
So, in the midst of Spring a-comin’, go outside! Stroll, study, or slumber for a few minutes and let the awesomeness wash over you. And then get back to the internet to share your adventures. And eat some of the HPA’s fair trade chocolate frogs – what can be healthier than that?