Let’s be clear: We like screens.
Our kids watch TV, we love educational and creative apps, and totally see the cognitive benefits of screen time for the Touch-Screen Generation. But there are also impressive—stunning, really—intellectual and emotional benefits to being outside, for both kids and adults, and we want to lay them out for you.
A little background: Growing food, and generally working outdoors with her hands in the earth, saved Jeanne’s life. Literally. She tells the story in her book, From The Ground Up: A Food-Grower’s Education in Life, Love and the Movement that’s Changing the Nation (which was released this week! And is getting nice reviews!). Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, at the height of ‘80s materialism, Jeanne spiraled into a depression and at the age of 18 sought out nature as a cure. She spent the next 17 years growing food on rural farms, and then returned home to Chicago with her young daughter. She has since created more than 650 food gardens and farms in and around the city, in places as varied as restaurant rooftops, inner-city shelters, suburban estates, and the mayor’s back yard.
When researching her book, we found study after study investigating the influence of nature on the mind—studies that helped Jeanne understand the mysterious force that first drew her from suburbia into the natural world, and then compelled her to build lush, natural spaces in the city. We recently found this jaw-dropping article in Outside by Florence Williams, “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning,” with fascinating new insights into nature’s impact on the brain.
We’ve gathered seven of the most notable studies from the book and from Williams’ article about the radical benefits of spending time outdoors—showing why it makes people not just calmer and happier, but also more focused, disciplined, healthy, social, and creative: