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Vitamin N

Last week I had the privilege of attending the grand opening of the Barnum Creek Nature Reserve in the Haliburton area. These 500 acres of land was donated to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust by Leopoldina and Margaret Dobrzensky. Both Leopoldina and Margaret spoke during the opening ceremony. Leopoldina, who is in her 90’s, stole the show when she said: In these challenging times we need something called Vitamin N. She was referring to nature, and stating that we all need a good dose of it on a regular basis.

Her comment has stuck with me. The benefits of being in nature is something that I’ve known for most of my life. When I was a city dweller I didn’t always get a daily dose. Now that I live in the country a day doesn’t go by that I don’t get outside. Sometimes I get out there and I don’t want to come back inside. 

To demonstrate just how amazing nature is I thought I’d set up this experiment for you. Even those of you reading this from your big city home can participate because nature is everywhere. Here goes:

  1. Pull up a beautiful wilderness scene on your device (or open a book that has a photo).
  2. Stare at the photo. Look for and take in as much beauty as you can. Get lost in the colours and the textures.
  3. Go outside and stand in a forest or a field or next to a tree.
  4. Look around and take in the beauty. If what you have available is a tree or a plant or even a rock, stare at that. 
  5. Take a deep breath and take in all of the smells that you can.
  6. Reach out and touch the nature that is around you. 
  7. Listen to the sounds that you hear (this may not work very well if you’re in the city unless it’s 5 am when you try this).

There is a huge difference between looking at a screen and getting outside. So many more of our senses are fired up when we’re outside, especially when we’re in a natural environment. The more that our senses are used the better. Think about all the various parts of the brain that must be working to decipher all of the information coming through the sights, the smells, and the sounds. The nerve endings in our fingertips light up when we touch all of the various textures and that information goes to the brain. It’s all just so healthy! And it’s calming in the most basic of ways. It can’t be recreated in a photo, a video or even audio recording. Sure an image of nature is better than nothing but it can’t replace the real thing.

Make getting your daily dose of Vitamin N a priority. Combine it with your daily dose of caffeine. That is my idea of a perfect start to a day.

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