Do you suffer from ‘nature deficit’ disorder?

(Pic: Thinkstock)(Pic: Thinkstock)
Do you work out, sleep well and still manage to feel fatigued and listless at the end of the work week? No, you’re not counting your sheep wrong or exercising less. You may be suffering from a deprivation of the outdoors — one of the most common problems of urban living. It’s called ‘nature deficit disorder’, which arises from spending too much time with under artificial lights. This brings about a divide between humans and the natural environment. In today’s 24X7 work weeks, the need to get out of this arises more than ever…

What it’s about

The term is about immersing yourself regularly among nature. Even a walk there can act as a soothing tonic. Healthcare professionals have been increasingly advocating such ecotherapy (green therapy) as it busts stress, builds the mood and recharges the body.

The healing power of sunlight

The biggest advantage of nature therapy is soaking in some sunshine, the biggest source of vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight removes depression, increases the content of oxygen in the blood and there’s also a yogic name for this healing touch of sunbathing — atapa snana .

We need to escape Mumbai’s concrete jungle’
For most Mumbaikars, nature interaction is rare — via slight sunshine though a sunroof or having a few indoor plants. “This is not enough,” says Nikhil Pai, finance professional from Kandivali. “We need to escape our
concrete jungle more. Unfortunately, timings don’t permit it as the commute to office is half the killer for people. Also, the weekend often translates into just a day, so it’s difficult to go anywhere.” Adds Andheri-based investment expert, Waheed Sayed, “The downside of urban living is not being able to enjoy nature enough. After about 10 days in the city, I feel an urge to drive out, even if it is to Lonavla. And it always leaves me feeling refreshed. We need two-day weekends like in the West, to help make that getaway happen more often.”

Try ‘forest bathing’
A simple Japanese woods therapy is being regarded as the answer for city folk, where you simply take a ‘shower’ in the woods. It’s not a regular bath, but ‘forest bathing’ or shirin-yoku, which means basking in the greenery of the forest area. More tech workers in the West are adapting to this practice. It’s high time we made it a stress-reduction activity here, too.

Easy ways to enjoy the outdoors

  • Create a green space: Grow a garden, which will let you spend time outdoors.
  • W alk on the beach: The beach is an apt place to soak in vitamin D. Walk by the water’s edge once a week.
  • Go stargazing: Being among nature is not only a night-time thing. With the cool weather still on, spend some time under the stars.
  • Do a walking meeting: The next time your work group meets to discuss ideas, take that meeting outdoors. More corporates today are conducting ‘walking meetings’, where people burn calories and enjoy the outdoor atmosphere.