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Nature Deficit Disorder: The Importance of Connecting with Nature

It’s 2023, and, let’s face it, most of us are slaves to our screens, whether you’re checking Facebook or Instagram on your phone, tapping away at your computer as you work, or unwinding at the end of the day with your favourite TV show. Whilst it’s wonderful that we have access to such extensive digital worlds at our fingertips, it does mean that, overall, people are spending less time outdoors and more time indoors engaging with digital devices.

So, what are the effects of Natural Deficit Disorder, and how can we combat this in 2023? Keep reading…

What is Nature Deficit Disorder?

The term Nature Deficit Disorder was coined by Richard Louv in 2005 to indicate a metaphor, rather than an actual illness, whereby adults and children are spending less time outdoors than they used to, and the mental wellbeing costs associated with this change.

Nature Deficit Disorder is the theory that all people, but especially children, are spending less time outdoors than they have done in the past, and that this change will result in a wide range of behavioural problems. It’s paramount, then, that we recognise this change in behaviour and make every effort possible to counteract it.

Louv began using this term as a vehicle to start the conversation around an urgent problem which was rapidly growing and showed no signs of slowing down. As it caught on, it’s incited an international movement to help reconnect children with nature.

Since 2005, the number of studies carried out on the impact of nature exposure on human development has grown exponentially. Evidence suggests that Nature Deficit Disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, significant weight gain, attention difficulties, and increased rates of mental and physical illness.

Why Are We Spending Less Time Outdoors in 2023?

We can’t deny that times are changing, technology is progressing, and daily habits are evolving. Before iPhones, iPads, laptops and smart TVs came along, it was only natural to want to escape to the outdoors, playing with friends and riding bikes, for example.

However, in 2023, we’ve got an entire digital world at our fingertips. There are so many advantages to this; we can connect with friends we might not see as often as we’d like, we can make new friends based on common interests, and we can discover new passions we never knew existed.

Despite the many benefits of the technological advances of the last few decades, one of the biggest downfalls is that people, and especially children, are spending more time indoors looking at screens and less time outdoors interacting with nature. If there had been iPads in 1950, we bet your grandparents would have been inside more too!

It’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that little pandemic thing that happened a few years ago too… you know, where the entire country went into lockdown and we literally weren’t allowed outside? Taking one hour of outdoor exercise each day was all we were permitted to do. School pupils were forced to see their teachers and classmates through Zoom, university graduates were denied their opportunity to throw their caps up in the air, and any in-person socialising could incur a fine – crazy, right?!

It’s hard to comprehend the long-lasting effects that the pandemic and lockdown had on young people who were forced to spend months of their formative years stuck inside, not being able to see their friends anywhere other than a screen.

What Are the Effects of Spending Less Time Outdoors?

Spending too much time engaging with the digital world instead of the real world can have negative effects on people of all ages. These effects include worsening mental health (exposure to nature has been linked with improved mood and lowered anxiety), disrupting your body clock, and missing out on the major health benefits associated with outdoor exercise.

Nature Deficit Disorder focuses specifically on the effects that a lack of outdoor exposure has on children who are at a formative age in their development. According to the Child Mind Institute, research has shown that children who play outside instead of spending all their free time looking at screens are happier, have a better attention span, and are less anxious.

Spending time in nature can make children more confident, as there’s less structure than most types of indoor play and they can choose how they interact with the nature around them. Being able to manage their own actions and make their own decisions is invaluable, and it also encourages creativity and imagination.

Being outdoors can be a great way to teach a child responsibility, too. If they’re in charge of watering a plant, they’ll learn that they need to take care of living things to keep them alive. Of course, playing outdoors is a great way for children to exercise, which not only boosts their physical health but also helps to improve their focus. It’s a great method to help children with ADHD feel less stressed.

How Can a Trip to Exe Valley Glamping Help Combat Nature Deficit Disorder?

Here at Exe Valley Glamping, there are so many ways for everyone to reconnect with nature; from camping under the stars, breathing in the fresh country air, and experiencing quality time with your loved ones.

There are endless outdoor adventures you can embark on in the surrounding area of Mid Devon. Get your heart rate racing with out-of-the-ordinary activities, like GoApe trails, quay paddling, horse riding, climbing and abseiling.

North Devon boasts some of the UK’s most incredible natural beaches, where you can amble along dramatic coastlines or take a surfboard down to the water. One of our favourite beaches is Saunton Sands, which is renowned for its sandy shoreline and grassy dunes – perfect for a fun-filled family day out to get the kids away from their screens.

There are also glorious gardens to explore, picturesque towns and villages to visit, and scenic walking and cycling routes to adventure across, all of which make Mid Devon the perfect place to visit if you want to escape everyday indoor life and experience the outdoors like never before.

Reconnect with Nature with a Retreat to Exe Valley Glamping

If you’re looking to reconnect with nature and enjoy the simple things in life, there truly is no better place to visit than Exe Valley Glamping. Our peaceful glamping site is nestled on a 150-acre family farm, making it the ideal location to enjoy mesmerising landscape views and really connect with Mother Nature, without sacrificing any home comforts. To book your reinvigorating nature retreat, visit our website today.

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