I crossed the 200 hours outside for 2022 last week. I am beginning to notice how much we can do outside, sometimes just sitting outside and reading is even a great refresher from life. We will be camping this weekend as we do every memorial day weekend to kick off summer, so I’m finding it easier to get my hours in now that we have been practicing getting hours outside, and the nicer weather certainly helps. Family Adventure takes various shapes and forms and in this episode I want to focus on some of the adventures in finding balance between the highs and lows or recalibrating
Before we get into the episode, I want to say Thank you! The goal in writing the book Beyond Normal a field guide to embrace adventure, explore the wilderness, and design an extraordinary life with kids was to help families practice adventure and see the benefits of an adventurous lifestyle. I wanted to give readers research stories and tips to begin adventuring TODAY. One of the ways to get this book into the hands of families is through Amazon Written Reviews.
This week’s Amazon Book Review from Jenya Lindstrom: Inspiring for adventurous parents!
Beyond Normal is a motivating read that inspires me to incorporate adventures into parenting. It’s so easy to join the masses pressuring us to “settle down” once our kids arrive. Thank you Heidi for providing a roadmap for how to create adventures WITH kids. Heidi also shares many personal experiences that are so relatable as a mom. I’ve ordered extra copies to share with mom friends and my sisters! Great family inspirational reading and/or gift for new parents.
THe episode today will help share ways we practice balance in our family life. How do we come down or lift ourselves up? These practices all contribute to the following benefits. I do include links to research articles at the end of this post if you want to dive in deeper.
- Support better sleep.
- Uplift your mood: Reduce anxiety/depression
- Increase energy.
- Improve symptoms of mental health conditions.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Lower risk of metabolic syndrome.
- reduce/Heal inflammation.
- Better Memory
- Strengthens the immune system
Grounding practices in Adventure are almost the ying to the yang.
In my book I go into a bit more depth about Neuroscience, and how certain practices such as Mindfulness (and meditation over time actually change the neural pathways in the brain. Grounding Practice take elements of neuroscience, however the root of the practices are on our ability to NOTICE, as I like to say “Be where our feet are.”
- The first practice a getting fresh air everyday. As I alluded to in the introduction we have been tracking the number of hours we spend outside. It is not always comfortable because sometimes it’s cold, or rainy. Lately it’s been windy so it’s not the ideal experience. However one thing I have noticed throughout the years raising kids is the direct correlation between the amount of fresh air we had during the day and the quality of our sleep at night. And we all know the importance of quality sleep. Which leads me to my next intention
- No screens one hour before bed (no screens after 8 is my intention). I call this one an intention, it is what I am aiming for. I am currently recording this episode at 9:24 PM so clearly I have some work to do in this category. The light from screens has shown to stimulate the brain and decrease the quality of sleep we have at night. When I decided this was an intention I wanted to work towards I needed to find a replacement, so I created a list of all the things I could do without a screen after 8 PM. I’d encourage you to do the same.
The next section are what I would refer to as sensory experiences
- The first practice is an auditory walk or hike, the purpose of the walk is to intentionally listen to natural sounds around you. When I do this practice I notice a couple things a) it gives the hike a purpose and the kids seem to be more interested in the hike or don’t even notice they are hiking b) our sense of sound is amplified. Much like a night hike when you lose your sense of sight, your sense of sound increases.
- Next we have a tactile experience amplifying our sense of touch. In this section I encourage the practice of being barefoot and having the bottoms of our feet touch the earth. Being barefoot in the grass, or even on the concrete create a grounding feeling of connection
- Natural light exposure before noon has been proven to affects our circadian rhythms responsible for our sleep-wake cycle. I have linked to an article related to this at the resources section of the episode. Almost daily after a couple hours of work I walk downstairs and step out onto my porch and just sit for 10 minutes on the steps of my porch with the natural light shining on me. Natural light has also been linked to helping address seasonal depression. While their are artificial lights I try to get as much of the real thing as I can, when I can.
- Lastly in the sensory section is recognizing smells. Sense of smell is connected to the most vivid memories. Fresh blooms of lilacs or the lilies of the valley, smell after it rains.
A slightly different perspective is practices in how we move or use our body.
- There is significant research that encourages “risky movements” in particular getting outside of the upright position. With kids this helps develop their inner ear, balance and coordination that leads to many other development. The book (Balanced & Barefoot by Angela Hanscom does a great job explaining WHY this is so important to our overall well-being. While it’s easy to consider this as a critical aspect for children I also encourage adults to get out of the upright position. I know when practicing yoga there is a preference for inverted positions. We often see these movements in our kids as unsafe.
Just yesterday I had a gasping moment when my son grabbed the rings on the playground and was doing flips. Of course I shared my mom exclamation “Be Careful,” which in my opinion is the biggest waste of breath for a mom to have. After he moved on I went over to the rings and envisioned the 6-yo version of myself and I did a little flip on the rings and I was reminded how invigorating it is to flip like that. Now at my age that is a very risky movement and I am not endorsing all parents do flips on rings, but notice the movements we see our kids do that bring us pause, and challenge ourself how might we get out of the upright position.
- Another form of grounding is how we position our bodies in relationship to other humans. Earlier this week I laid down on the floor on my belly to work on a puzzle and soon all the kids came down to the floor, laid on their bellies and got shoulder to shoulder with me. One of the feng shui principles to not let objects steal the energy between two people. Another principle I learned in understanding power dynamics is to diffuse the conflict to not stand face to face, rather shoulder to shoulder. I notice when I am sitting next to my middle schooler we have much richer conversations. Lying in bed or laying on our bellies on the floor working on a puzzle. Another way we might consider our body positions is playing superman with the kids. When we all can get to the same level there is a grounding feeling in addition to deeper connection.
The Critical State of Human Connection
In my w2 job, which I don’t know that I have talked much about, I oversee a foundation’s giving strategy and in the past 18 months we have been studying the research related to connection. I will link a research study in the resources section. As a society we have been reducing the number of deep connections we share with others since the 1980s. In 1986 we averaged 4 deep connections with other people, now the average is less than 1. Yet we have more tools to connect than ever. The piece of this research that was most defining for me was that we only need 1 solid connection to exponentially increase the benefits listed above. We approach health from an exercise and nutrition perspective, but human connection offers much greater results. It has been interesting to me is that at work with our focus on mental health we have been focus on access to treatment and quality care and we knew there was more behind the curve.
I go into detail that I knew that adventure had healing properties back in my twenties which was why I resisted the settling down narrative. The research continues to emerge about how beneficial time in nature, practicing discomfort, and grounding practices can offer a new path- or perhaps return us to a native pathway that has been hushed.
If these are intriguing to you and you want to practice them or have a nudge to explore simple adventures you might consider Registering for the Everyday Adventure Challenge: If you would like a little help, and outside nudge to practice simple adventures such as this the Everyday Adventure Challenge is open and will run June 5-August 5th. You can register by heading to ordinarysherpa.com/challenge
- How are you getting fresh air everyday?
- What are all the things you can do at 8 PM without a screen? You might be surprised what you come up with. Look at the list and decide What do I WANT to do tonight?
- When you remove one of the senses it amplifies the others. Which sensory adventure would you like to try? Remember an adventure is a new, uncomfortable, potentially risky experience.
- Kids innately move in risky ways that make parents gasp. These are developmentally important. In fact I would challenge any adult listener to explore getting out of an upright position and explore a “risky” position for you. This does not mean you have to grab the rings and do a flip.
- All of the practices today are accessible to you by simply taking off your shoes, putting down your phone, laying on the floor, or stepping outside and inhaling the fresh air. They might not seem normal- but when was normal ever the benchmark for a thriving life?
Resources mentioned in this episode
1000 Outdoor Trackers: https://www.1000hoursoutside.com/trackers
Research on Natural Light: https://www.sleepcycle.com/circadian-rhythm/how-to-use-light-to-reboot-your-circadian-rhythm/
Balanced and Barefoot Book: Order a book on Amazon
Research on the Human Connection: http://ccare.stanford.edu/uncategorized/connectedness-health-the-science-of-social-connection-infographic/