What did you resolve to change in 2017? Perhaps like most people you promised to be more healthy, learn a new skill, save more money, or spend more time with family and friends. Are those resolutions you bravely made at the beginning of the year starting to be tested?
My son gave me a sign for Christmas that says, “Do what you love, love what you do”. It makes go to work everyday easy but could also be true for keeping those resolutions. Lifestyle changes are much easier to stick with when they are good for you and you feel good about them.
I am going to share a secret with you. Everything is better outside. The fresh air, natural light, wildlife sounds and scents of the earth will engage your senses and clear your mind.
Want to be more active? Get outdoors. Bundle up and enjoy the sunshine. Even if it is just once or twice a week, natural sunlight will lift your spirits. Go for a walk, build a snowman, or slide down a hill. Notice the shapes of trees without their leaves or the frozen stillness of the landscape. Take several deep breaths and feel the peacefulness of nature as you inhale and exhale.
No matter what your age, the key to a healthy brain is staying curious and creative. Whether you learn new skills or find new ways to use existing skills you will keep your brain sharp. Step outdoors and let your inner child wonder. What type of animal made that track? What tree has that white peeling bark? Which bird is making that sound?
Start a new hobby. Nature photography, fly fishing, gardening for wildlife, rock climbing, or birdwatching; outdoors your interests can be sublime or adventuresome. Now is the perfect time to get started. Check out a book, sign up for a workshop, or join a club.
Maintaining social connections is vital to well-being. Joining or starting a group with a similar interest is an easy way to stay active and engaged. Locally there are Master Gardeners, an Audubon Club, a fishing group, scouts, and many other groups looking for new members. Joining a cycling group, sailing club, or hiking club can help you stay active and have fun.
If you don’t see a group that fits your needs start one. How about a family nature club in your neighborhood, a gardening group in your church, or a walking club after work? Organizations like Red-tail Land Conservancy, Cardinal Greenways, and many others need volunteers. Volunteering is ideal way to learn a skill, connect with others outdoors, and make a difference in your community.
What will you do to stick to your resolutions? Maybe you will visit a nature preserve each month, create a wildlife habitat in your backyard with native plants, volunteer, learn to identify new birds, or teach a child to fish.
For me spending time in nature is the magic ingredient to finding contentment, along with friends, a dose of dark chocolate and an occasional craft beer. Wherever your goals for 2017 take you, I hope you get outside your comfort zone and enjoy the natural world.