I have many fond memories from my childhood of summer days spent catching tadpoles in the marsh, running barefoot through the park, camping in the backyard, digging in the sand and swimming at the lake. At school, we could roam free on the field, play tag with our friends and jump in mud puddles when it rained. No screens, no planned play dates, no strict school rules — it was all left to our imagination with the great outdoors as our playground.
So much has changed for our kids: hours of screen time, pre-arranged playdates, staring at phones during breaktime. So how do we encourage this generation to seek the outdoors and benefit from time in nature?
In Episode 51 of the School of School podcast, we discuss the actual benefits of spending time in nature. Japanese people have studied the positive effects of Shin-rin yoku, known as “forest bathing” in English, which involves using all of one’s senses to take in the natural surroundings. The effects of this Japanese practice are proven and profound. These include benefits such as reducing cortisol levels, increasing problem-solving abilities, lessening ADHD symptoms in children, improving the immune system, lowering inflammation, promoting better sleep and more.