This New Year's, I'm going all natural with my resolutions
I'll admit it: I'm not a fan of making New Year's resolutions, partly because they're so easy to forget or to break once life gets busy. But resolutions are that much easier to keep when they're good for you, AND you feel good about them. This year, why not include a few of these nature-themed resolutions in your list (if you're making one)?
Take time for nature
More and more research is showing that taking time in nature is not only good for our bodies, it's good for our brains too. In fact, a recent Ispos Reid poll conducted by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) shows that more than 97 per cent of Canadians believe that getting outdoors is important to their family's well-being. Furthermore, the research found that Canadians are happier when they are outside.
Resolution: I will commit to spending more time in nature each week, whether taking a walk in our local park or visiting a nature reserve or conservation area. (Pro Tip: resolutions are easier to keep when you set measurable, and realistic, goals. Why not set a time goal for your time for nature resolution, and see if you can increase it, week by week?)
Volunteer for nature
Volunteering is a great way to give your time to a cause or group that's meaningful to you. A number of organizations offer volunteer opportunities, whether as an ongoing commitment or a one-day activity. NCC's Conservation Volunteers program offers a suite of events in all provinces from coast to coast. Volunteers not only get to work alongside conservation professionals and lend a hand in important stewardship, monitoring and restoration activities; the events are also an opportunity to visit some of Canada's most spectacular landscapes.
Resolution: I will sign up for at least one Conservation Volunteers event in 2015. (Pro tip: NCC's Conservation Volunteers calendar for 2015 will be launched National Volunteer Week, April 20-25. Mark your calendar today to remind yourself to visit the site and sign up as soon as events are live!)
By introducing native plants and some strategic design features to your garden, you can provide patches of natural habitat for many species. A well-designed backyard can offer birds and pollinators like butterflies more living space, feeding opportunities and the safety of cover from predators. By enhancing and restoring natural elements in your garden, you'll make the urban landscape more wildlife-friendly.
Resolution: I will plan to plant at least one locally native plant (like milkweed) in my garden in 2015. (Pro tip: Gardeners beware! Some garden centres actually sell invasive non-native plants, such as purple loosestrife, as ornamentals. Educate yourself on problem plants by contacting your local invasive species centre, to make sure you avoid introducing an invasive plant in your yard.)
Get to know Canada's species
It's said that knowledge is power, and that we're more likely to want to protect what we know and understand. Although I've worked at NCC for close to eight and a half years, there isn't a year (or month) when I don't learn something new and fascinating about Canada's species and habitats. And with that added learning, my awe for (and appreciation of) Canada's native biodiversity has only grown, in addition to my commitment to helping conserve the spaces these species need in order to survive and thrive.
Resolution: I will learn about at least one new (to me) Canadian species in 2015. (Pro tip: Help spread your new knowledge with friends and family by sharing what you've learned with them.)
Commit to a Wednesday Walk
I fully admit it: I'm guilty of working hours on end without getting up to move around the office, let alone stepping outside the office. All too often I can be found eating lunch at my desk. But numerous studies have shown that not only are we more creative when we get up and take a walk, but we're also more likely to come back to our desk refreshed and rejuvenated. Walking is also a great way to stop and take the time to learn more about the nature around us. You may even be surprised by what you discover!
Resolution: I will commit to at least one (if not more) lunchtime walk each week. (Pro tip: I've tentatively called this a Wednesday Walk, and will be inviting colleagues in my office to join me. It's amazing the creative conversations you may have when you simply take the time to step outside for an hour.)
Reconnect with your sense of wonder and awe
Let's face it — nature is pretty awesome. But most of us are so busy in our daily lives (see above for just one example) that we rarely take the time to stop and smell the roses, marvel at snow falling softly on the world around us or the flight of a group of geese above us. By making a conscious decision to stop at least one time a day to smell, see and hear the nature around you, you'll reconnect with that sense of wonder and awe that a busy life may have taken away from you.
Resolution: I will try and stop at least once a day to appreciate the nature around me. (Pro tip: Try physically stopping, looking around you and breathing in and out 10 times. That small pause in your day is a great way to consciously reconnect with what's around you. You'll feel reinvigorated and ready to take on the rest of your day.)
What's your resolution?
How do you plan to reconnect with nature in 2015? Let me know in the comments section below!