Wednesday, May 8, 2013

30x30 Challenge: You. Outside. In Nature.

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes 
a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something,
that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, 
that so wonderfully changes and renews
a weary spirit.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Hi everyone! Mea culpa, mea culpa - I'm completely remiss in writing this post so far into the month of May. I had heard of David Suzuki's 30x30 Challenge back in April and had meant to share it with you at the beginning of the month but, with the busyness of workshops in Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna, and Maple Ridge, I completely forgot. 

It wasn't until I was driving to the pool at lunchtime today and heard David interviewed on CBC's Q with Jian Ghomeshi  that the penny dropped. So, here is the post - better late than never. (You could join me in taking up the challenge a week late and just extend your commitment an extra week into June - or even continue it on throughout the year!)

Those of us who spend our time caring for others may be shocked, when asked, to discover that it's been months or even years since we last lay in the grass staring up at the sky or stood close to a tree breathing in the cool air descending from its branches or picked sun-warmed salmon berries or blackberries from a bush in the local woods. It is so easy to shift our attention away from Nature but we do so at our own peril.

It is our hearts and minds, disconnected from our natural environment, that pose the greatest threat to the sustainability of our planet. If we don't have an intimate relationship with Mother Earth, we won't care what happens to her, and if we don't care what happens to her, we won't act on her (and our own) behalf.

So, What is the Challenge? 

The David Suzuki Foundation's 30x30 Challenge offers us the opportunity to reinvest in our relationship with Mother Earth and with ourselves and families. The challenge is simple, though for some, perhaps not easy. It asks Canadians to commit to spending 30 minutes in nature each day for 30 days, starting on May 1st (oops!).

All you have to do is to join the challenge on the Foundation website and then get out in nature for at least 30 minutes for 30 days. The website offers opportunities for individuals or whole workplaces to sign up and goes on to offer tips and inspiration to get you started. There is also a chance to submit photos from your encounters with Nature for weekly prizes and, if you complete the opening and closing surveys, you can win a prize package from Genuine Health.

The greatest benefits, though, will be to your own life and to the life of the planet. (See these great website graphics for a rundown.) As David says:

2 minutes exposure to nature
relieves stress as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure & brain activity

2 hours exposure to nature
improves memory performance and attention span by 20%+

2 days consecutive exposure to nature
boosts levels of cancer fighting white blood cells by 50%

Why would we not do this?? 

Even family caregivers can ask family, friends or caregiving professionals to be with their care recipients for 30 minutes a day so they can walk or sit under a tree in their garden or park and soak up the scenery. There's so much to gain that it's worth starting right now. (And if 30 minutes is completely beyond you, why not try 5 minutes and gradually work your way up?)

I'm starting tonight, with a good brisk sit at the Lake. (Well, I have already done an hour of aerobic aqua-fit today...) Why not join me by getting out into your own neighbourhood green spaces? You, like this woman, will be glad you did! 

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