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The Truth is Out About Nature Deficit Disorder

Proposed by journalist Richard Louv, NDD or Nature Deficit Disorder is the term used to describe the growing detachment of children and adults from nature.

Do you remember the last time you saw kids playing outdoors? Or were asked “It’s a nice day outside, let’s go for a walk?” Or when “long walks on the beach” was something people actually did and not a tinder pick up line?+

We live in an age of wonder where cities are built in a day and where anything and everything under the sun is available to us at the click of an app.

Technology has brought us to a point in history where we no longer have to leave the house to be fed, entertained, employed, and socialize with others. Convenience is king and we are all monarchs.

And that’s all great if it wasn’t for something called Nature Deficit Disorder or NDD[1].

What is Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD)?

Proposed by journalist Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder[2]”, it is a growing detachment of children and adults from nature. Children now prefer spending time indoors with their gadgets rather than being outside socializing and enjoying fresh air.

 

It is brought about by two conditions: digital dependence and detachment from nature.

 

Louv’s book, published in 2005, suggests that this detachment from nature may be the root of physical and emotional disorders like depression, obesity, myopia, Vitamin D deficiency, and attention deficit problems. The less we experience fresh air and sunshine, the more vulnerable we become.

 

Digital dependence limits the use of other senses as we tend to focus our sight on gadgets that entertain and amuse us.

 

NDD is not exclusively limited to children.  Adults are more susceptible to this as they spend up to 12 hours a day cooped up in artificially lighted, climate controlled offices.  Adults use cars daily and the traffic jams they encounter also contribute to NDD. Statistics show that this group accounts for almost 50% of the Philippine workforce. Adults are more likely to experience NDD as children have playgrounds they visit during break time at school. 

 

Research regarding NDD is in its infancy and it is not an acknowledged medical or psychological condition. It is basically a catch-all term for the “human cost of alienation from nature.”  

 

How do you deal with NDD?

 

As insidious and damaging as NDD seems to be, the cure is quite simple: spend more time in nature.

 

Louv’s follow up book “The Nature Principle[3]” sums it up elegantly: by living in and not just with nature, we can mine its restorative powers and use it to boost mental alertness, creativity, improve health and wellness, and build smarter businesses and communities. 

 

By getting more sunshine and fresh air, people, especially children get more vitamin D, exercise more without knowing it, build self-confidence, and learn to focus better. Nothing could be better than getting to know Mother Nature more. Louv goes on to state that time spent in outdoors helps people in a holistic, natural way.

 

And when we say outdoors, we don’t mean camping out in the middle of the woods and living off the land. Nothing so hardcore. Simply allotting time to get the whole family to take a leisurely walk somewhere they can get fresh air and sunshine is good enough.

 

And while you’re walking, make it interesting and informative by playing games! Like how many kinds of cicadas can the family hear? Or how many flowers can they identify by smell? Or who can reach a tree the fastest without running? Time outdoors is great for bonding and staving off NDD.

 

What benefits can we get from a life without NDD?

 

Studies by the University of East Anglia [4]show a correlation between communing with nature and physical wellness. By regularly spending time outdoors, you reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stress, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Stanford conducted a study that proved people who took walks in natural, wooded environments showed decreased brain activity in the places associated with depression as opposed to those who walked along high-traffic urban areas. That same study also stipulated that urbanites are 20% more likely to develop anxiety disorders and 40% more likely to develop mood disorders versus people who live in rural areas[5].

 

And data supports these claims as populations from highly industrialized countries including U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Japan and Germany reveal that populations with access to green spaces are more likely to be healthier as well.

 

These studies and numbers reveal a correlation between improved health and access to nature. Spending more time communing with nature does have physical and mental benefits. Whether or not Nature Deficit Disorder will ever be classified as a mental or 

psychological disorder, it’s good to know that it can be avoided with such a simple and natural cure.

 

Now that you’re done reading, get out and get some sun.



Sources:

[1] “All you need to know about Nature Deficit Disorder” – BBC News 26 Nov 

2016 https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38094186 accessed 29 Aug 2019

[2] “Last Child in the Woods – Overview – Richard Louv” http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/ accessed 29 Aug 2019

[3] “Nature Deficit Disorder – Children & Nature Network”  https://www.childrenandnature.org/about/nature-deficit-disorder/ accessed 29 Aug 2019

[4] “It’s official – spending time outside is good for you – Science Daily” 6 July 2018 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htmaccessed 29 Aug 2019

[5] “Stanford researchers find mental health prescription – Stanford News” 30 Jun 2015 https://news.stanford.edu/2015/06/30/hiking-mental-health-063015/accessed 29 Aug 2019

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