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Trade Screen Time for Green Time

6 ways to make the outdoors part of your routine.

3 Min. Read | Home & Backyard

As working from home becomes more prevalent for kids and adults alike, we’re finding ourselves stuck to our screens more than ever. That’s why it’s so important to add small outdoor breaks into your daily routine. It’s proven to be beneficial for your overall mental and physical health, so you’ll come back in with a clear head, and plenty of energy to tackle the rest of your day. Here are a few easy ideas for adding a breath of fresh air to your schedule.

1. Start your day on the right foot

Mornings are when you set the tone for the entire day ahead, so find a little time to enjoy some peaceful moments outdoors. It could be as simple as taking your coffee or tea out on the porch. Or finding a few extra minutes to sit on a park bench as you walk your dog. Make this your “you” time, when you can take a deep breath, clear your head and embrace the quiet before starting your day. Your mind and body will thank you.

2. School’s out(side)

Distanced learning means even more screen time, and while time spent with teachers is extremely valuable, every kid could use a little extracurricular activity outside. Set aside even 30 minutes every day for recess or “gym class” – and try to get out there yourself to supervise and score some rewarding playtime with your child. Or create an extra period for outdoor exploration. From botany to biology to natural history, Mother Nature has so many lessons to teach. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of the things kids could never find inside a classroom.

3. Shop straight from the source

Getting groceries is a necessary chore, but almost every city and town has a nearby farmers’ market that lets you shop for the freshest food as you enjoy the fresh air. Each new season brings with it a new bounty of freshly picked fruits and vegetables – not to mention baked goods and meat – from local farms. The food doesn’t just taste better; you’ll also be supporting hardworking people in and around your community. Check out the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory to find a market near you.

4. Go out to work out

A few times a week, many of us would head to the gym to work on our health, let off some steam, or start the day with a burst of energy. But things have changed. Even though most gyms have reopened, you might not feel comfortable going back quite yet. So why not take your workout routine outside? Beyond the obvious outdoor activities like running and jogging, you can bring some weights or a kettlebell to the local park and get to work. Or just get a great burn with bodyweight exercises. If you miss the social aspect of gyms, look for workout groups or bootcamps in your area, where you can sweat and socialize in a socially distanced setting.

5. Enjoy a night out

As the days get shorter, you might find the best time to work outside time into your life is at night. There’s nothing wrong with that! Being outdoors when it’s dark lets you use every one of your senses. And when the skies are clear and gorgeous, you simply can’t beat the view. Schedule weekly astronomy walks with the family to learn about all the planets, stars and constellations you can spot in the night sky. There are even apps available that you can point at the sky to help you along as you stargaze.

Photo Courtesy of Instagram's lydkerr

6. Even small things make a big difference

The reality is that sometimes life just doesn’t allow us to take a break. When that’s the case, all you have to do is open a window and take a pause to appreciate your surroundings. Notice what’s happening out in your backyard, on neighboring rooftops, or whatever your view offers. Close your eyes and listen for sounds you haven’t noticed before: birds singing, trees rustling, the hum of activity on the street below. It just takes a few seconds, but you’ll feel like you just went on a journey.

In the end, working the outdoors into your daily life is not as difficult as you might think – and the benefits are practically endless. When you build “green time” into your routine, it just becomes a normal part of your day. So have fun out there – and be safe!

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