Summer is still here! It’s not too late to splash some fun into your relationships and give your brain and body some badly-needed movement and healing. Why? Because today we spend more time than ever inside, sitting down looking at electronics. This sedentary lifestyle is literally making us emotionally and physically sicker than ever. Reversing this trend is easier than you might realize.
How? Brain research is clear: Get outside and do something novel, playful and active.
Just getting outside in the sun creates Vitamin D, boosts serotonin, and improves sleep. New evidence suggests it even helps injured brains to heal! Getting active and playful interaction with friends or family lowers stress and releases hormones that reduce anxiety and depression. Finally, novelty (i.e., doing something unexpected and different) blasts our brain out of low-energy, repetitive and habitual patterns by activating higher-energy, creative and self-aware brain activity. This cultivates a more positive and hopeful outlook on life.
Sound good? Here’s a list of my favorite outdoor activities that will work with friends and/or family of all ages:
- Feeling creative? Build an outdoor Scrabble game. It is not as hard as you think. Cut one foot by one foot squares of poster board or cardboard for each of the game tiles. Play by the same rules as the board game, only with this version you will need to move around study options before placing your tiles. Get more detail here. Want even more action? You can use the same tiles for a game of Bananagram.
- Feeling nostalgic? Play a childhood classic. Start with Kick the Can, Hopscotch or Foursquare. Forget the rules? Here they are.
- Want to include a few more friends? Organize a game of Capture the Flag, Shadow Tag, Freeze Tag or TV Tag. Still playing after dark? Make it a game of Flashlight Tag. Forget the rules? Here they are.
- Feeling too warm and sticky outside to move around? Break out the water guns and water balloons.
- Want to be a little productive? Plant a simple herb garden or wash the car.
- Want to make it educational? Break out the digital cameras and see who can photograph the most and/or coolest living things.
- Want to finish a fun, active day outside? One highlight of our summer is the annual outdoor movie night.