5 ways to incorporate nature into your hectic schedule (+1 bonus)

Outdoor yoga (Photo by Lululemon Athletica)

Outdoor yoga (Photo by Lululemon Athletica)

September 2, 2014 | by Carys Richards

Now that summer vacation's over and we're into September, I’m beginning to look ahead to the school year. Classes, textbooks, and homework, oh my! With the dog days of summer flying by quicker than I can comprehend, it won’t be long now until I’m singing the back to school blues.

It’s a tough transition for me. I try to make the most of my summer months by camping, hiking and trying to savour every moment spent outdoors but once classes begin, I’m always looking to maximize any opportunity to spend time enjoying nature.

These are my tips and trick to incorporate nature into my busy school life. If you have any suggestions of our own, let me know!

1. Try to get outside during your daily commute

I know this is a tough one. We’re all running on a tight schedule, whether it’s because we’re victims of fickle public transit or racing to find a parking spot; however, there are plenty of ways to get some fresh air during your daily commute. With the addition of cycling lanes springing up in cities across the country, there are more people than ever adopting this means of transit. Who knows: if your commute involves multiple transfers between buses and trains, biking might end up being even quicker on those bright, sunny days.

If biking just isn’t an option there are plenty of other ways to make the most of your commute, even if it’s just leaving the house five minutes early and strolling along the scenic route to the bus, or getting off a stop or two early and walking a couple of blocks.

2. Take a break

It’s easy to get caught up in your work; this is something I can definitely testify to. It’s important, however, to take a break every now and then, even if it’s just a quick stroll around the block. Not only will you feel better for it physically, but you’ll be mentally refreshed as well.

If you’re slaving away over a particularly tough job or stuck on a difficult paper, sometimes the best thing it do it put it down for five minutes and get a change of scenery. Tack a break onto the tail end of your lunch hour or take five minutes between classes.

3. Have a picnic

We all know that the warm summer weather is fleeting in the Great White North, so try and take advantage of that midday heat while it lasts. If there’s a park in your neighbourhood or your school’s soccer field is unoccupied during the lunch hour, pull up a patch of grass with friends or coworkers and have an afternoon picnic. This is your chance to kick off your shoes and go bare footed in the grass.

Worried about grass stains? Pack a towel to sit on. Since you live in Canada, chances are you’re always prepared for a change of whether no matter what the forecast predicts and you can use that raincoat/winter jacket instead. Use your backpack as a back rest and enjoy your lunch outdoors.

4. Get fit

Don’t hit the gym. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. If you can convince yourself to hit the gym that’s fantastic because working out is great, but instead of spending all your time running on a treadmill or sitting on the stationary bike, take your workout outside and get some real sunshine. Go for a jog around the neighbourhood or discover your local bike trails.

Most gyms also offer outdoor classes, like yoga or boot camp, and having a group of people to work out with will motivate you to keep going.

5. Enjoy your weekends

You’ve worked your butt off and it’s time for a break. I understand how tempting it might be to just sit on the couch after a tough week and marathon Discovery Channel (I really, really do) but this isn’t actually the best way to make the most of your weekend.

  • If you’re feeling motivated, go for a hike. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, just get out and take a walk around.
  • Sign up for one of our Conservation Volunteers events. In some provinces, they go as late as November.
  • Go camping (preferably while it’s still warm enough to sleep in a tent).
  • Hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing, snowshoeing, skating and rollerblading. Take your pick

+1. Skating in the winter

All of my other suggestions were usually dependant on warm weather, so here’s an idea for those long cold months that seem to occupy the majority of the year:

This is Canada. Hockey is our national sport (and so is lacrosse!). I’m not suggesting that everybody needs to get all geared up and go play shinny, but every town, city and hamlet across the country has its fair share of outdoor rinks to be enjoyed by all. Grab a pair of used skates from any sports consignment store and take advantage of the community rinks near you. Regardless of how cold it is outside, skating can be a workout, and once you do a couple of laps on the ice you’re guaranteed to warm up. Some places even have heated sheds to put your skates on or a fire pit to warm up around afterwards. There may not be a lot of benefits to be had by a winter that seems to last forever, but this is definitely one that everybody can take advantage of.

Carys Richards (Photo courtesy of Carys Richards)

About the Author

Carys Richards is the communications manager for NCC’s Alberta Region.

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