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Nature-Deficit Disorder: definition, symptoms and how to prevent it


Noisli - Nature-Deficit Disorder

What is Nature-Deficit Disorder?

Nature-Deficit Disorder is a term coined by journalist and author Richard Louv. It’s a nonmedical condition suggesting that less time outdoors can have negative effects on our behaviour, especially in children.

Especially during the pandemic, parents have noticed an increase in restlessness and crankiness in their children if they couldn’t go outside to enjoy some free play outdoors.

What are the symptoms of Nature-Deficit Disorder?

Although there aren’t any scientific studies on the specific symptoms of nature-deficit disorder, there is plenty of research showing the benefits of being outdoors and connecting with nature, so the lack of it might have the opposite effect.

Research showed that just viewing nature scenes can reduce stress and lower your heart rate. Another study found that green spaces have a positive influence on well-being and can promote social behavior.
People who spend just 120 minutes a week in nature reported better overall well-being compared to people who spent less time outdoors.
Research also showed that listening to nature sounds has many benefits. It can reduce your body’s natural flight-or-flight instinct, make you more calm and relaxed, reduce your blood pressure and have an overall positive influence on your mental health and well-being.

How to prevent Nature-Deficit Disorder?

Here are some 3 easy ways on how you can prevent nature-deficit disorder:

1. Reduce screen time

Try to keep screen time to a minimum as many studies point out to negative effects when spending too much time in front of a screen. Be mindful of how long you or your kids spend time with their devices and replace that time with activities outdoors or connecting with nature.

2. Go outside

How many hours do you spend outdoors per week? Research found that spending at least 120 minutes per week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. There are many health benefits in spending time in a forest, which is called forest bathing, or also just doing some gardening. So, whenever you find yourself spending your time indoors, try to think if there is a way to do that activity outdoors instead.

3. Connect with nature

You do not always have to be outdoors to be able to connect with nature. There are many ways in which you can bring nature into your home such as taking care of plants, listening to natural background sounds as well as watching wildlife documentaries or looking through books about nature.

Avatar photo Written by Sabine Staggl

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