Like many people, nature is my soul place. It’s where I go to rejuvenate, to feel like I accomplished something with my day. When I heard about the May, 2014 30 x 30 nature challenge hosted by the David Suzuki Organization, I was instantly jazzed, intrigued and had a few questions. For instance, what is the goal of the challenge? What is the incentive to get people involved? Is it just another trendy challenge where the hype evaporates out of our watery memories once the challenge is complete?
What I learned is that the 30 x 30 challenge is becoming an annual initiative that 1) inspires Canadians to consciously spend time outdoors and 2) the incentive is that the 30 x 30 nature challenge is a research project that looks at each participants current emotional and mental state based on input surveys completed before and after the challenge. The mandate is for each participant to answer questions regarding how often the head outside and are in front of a computer. They also answer questions regarding what is their current emotional health or feeling of stress, and then spend 30 minutes for 30 days outdoors before answering the same questions again. This is a difficult challenge to pass-up, especially when curious questions like, what is the impact of nature on us when we spend time daily in nature? are suggested. Pretty awesome stuff.
Last year (the introductory year of this challenge) participants found that they experienced decreased stress, an increased sense of relaxation and generally felt happy while participating. As a holistic minded nutritionist this is exciting to learn about and experience – improved wellness with 30 minutes of intentional time spent outdoors. Why wouldn’t I join this initiative?! At this point I’m halfway through the challenge and each day look forward to what I’ll be doing to experience the outdoors within the city. Here are few photos from my experience:
3) Longer walk home after a yoga class
5) . . . and that time during a bike ride when I met Ranger Aiden while he was tending to his Homegrown National Park with Ranger Maxine (Ranger Maxine preferred not to have her picture taken but enjoyed telling me about what was growing in their canoe).
The reality is that I’m outside everyday – commuting via bike to my next destination, walking up the street to work, or meeting friends at the park – but there’s something incredibly dire and positive about an intentional relationship with the outdoors. I’ve been paying more attention to my surroundings while traveling from point A and B. I’ve found this month so far, this has been rewarding, cathartic and grants a necessary pause from stress that comes with the day. These are characteristics of outdoor exposure that evaded my memory after a very, very long winter and I couldn’t be more happy for the reminder.
My Top 5 Experiences from the First Half of the 30 x 30 Nature Challenge
- Being more aware of my surroundings. I’m not in my head as much when I’m on the go, but instead more present.
- More energy after coming in from outside.
- I’ve actively watched Toronto go from brown and freshly thawed to green and blooming with blossoms. Pretty spectacular.
- I’m more appreciative for the green spaces here in the city.
- I mentioned this earlier, but I’m also feeling more accomplished with each day.
This challenge has been rewarding and I’m looking forward to continuing it past the month of May. Now, go outside! 🙂