The year 2020 kept many of us safely tucked away in the countryside, the mountains, or the seaside. If you were among the lucky ones who spent the lockdown in nature, you might have noticed some changes in your health, your stress levels, and your approach to life...
For me, at least, the lockdown was the final stroke that opened my eyes to the warped perspective of modern man. Colloquially, we speak of the outdoors as a place where the men go to be men, or the naturists flock to feel "connected". Loving nature usually involves images of tree-hugging (or tree-climbing) weirdos... Ok, yes, I'll admit we can go off-tangent at times, but loving the outdoors isn't something reserved for tree-huggers.
Humans don't need to be connected with nature: we ARE nature! Our biology is akin to nature, evolved and grown alongside it, being part of a greater system. And yet we see ourselves as being such a superior species; we don't need nature anymore. Aside from wrecking our homeland for our insipid consumerist needs, we think we can cheat our way to health within our concrete jungles.
Who needs nature when we have buns of steel from pumping iron at the gym?
Why eat whole foods if you can chow a protein shake?
Who cares if we develop back pain because the hours of sitting tightens our hips, compresses our vertebrae... we can buy painkillers and get a massage!
I stare at a screen for twelve hours a day buy I can fix my eyesight with laser surgery
Bunions schmunions, these shoes pinch my feet but fashion means sacrifice!
We have become so accustomed to our modern lifestyles and co-existing with disease. Because this is the whole thing: we think of health merely as "the absence of disease". It's SO MUCH more than that. YOU could be so much more than just "not sick". Beyond the COVID pandemic, humankind is suffering from something worse: the global epidemic of convenience. It's convenient to:
Drive instead of walk
Sit all day
Stare at screens
Ask for pills
We have a warped vision of our approach to life that is so disconnected from our evolution that we are literally killing ourselves trying. What's the other option? Become a self-obsessed health nut or live in a treehouse? Be one of those people who spend time in the "great outdoors" in muddy wellingtons?
In the last few years, I have focused on better understanding a holistic (natural/globalised approach) to fitness. We look beyond the resistance machines, the powdered protein shakes, and mirror selfies at the gym... Holistics within fitness looks at our wellbeing; how we move, our resistance to injury, and our overall health. Sad to say - it's the modern lifestyle that's slowly killing us.
If you take a plant indoors, hide it from sunlight, and forget to water it - it won't stand much chance of survival. Sunlight, nutrients from the soil, and natural gasses deprive a plant of its vital needs and you'll see it die within a few days. Humans are more resilient - but much the same, only with a longer time delay; deprive us of moving our body, eating nutrient-rich food, exposure to sunlight and oxygen, and slowly, over time, we age badly. We develop aches and pains that turn into injuries, and we develop disturbances that evolve into disease. And all the while, we're conditioned to think this is normal!
Spending time outdoors is a necessity for us to stay healthy; it's not just a perk! When we spend too much time indoors, in cars, or in concrete jungles, we are depriving our bodies of:
Ionisation from the soil
Movement, balance and agility
Just by restricting our body's access to movement, oxygen and nutrients, the human body slowly starts to degenerate. We tend to call this "AGEING" - but age is not the issue; age is just the accumulation of our habits over time. You can age well or age badly - it's down to the accumulation of habits. As simple as that. Before you sell your London flat for a tree-house in the Lake District, consider a few options to improve your movement/outdoor quota:
Walk to the shops/school/work
Spend more time in leafy neighbourhoods
Find a sport you love that you can do outdoors
Take your dog for a woodland adventure
Teach your kids to play outside - lead the way!
Wind down with a view (rather than on the sofa)
Plan outdoor activities with your friends
Shop at an outdoor produce market - on foot
Take up gardening
Move your DIY to outside
Spending time moving outdoors doesn't have to look the same to everyone - heck, even a walk on the beach is considered outdoors... and there are no muddy wellingtons in sight!
We are already connected with nature - we ARE nature! The difference is, are we TUNED INTO what we love about nature? Do we spend enough time in that environment, genuinely enjoying the experience and reaping the benefits?
How do you like to spend time outdoors? We would love to know!