10 Easy Swaps To Spend More Time In Nature

Whether you’re working or relaxing, it’s all too easy today to get stuck indoors (usually in a sedentary position, in front of a screen, no less). But if you’ve gotten into the habit of wandering outside for a break, you know how good even the urban version of nature can be for the body and soul.

And virtually no one knows that better than Beth Santos. mindbodygreen and Corning® Gorilla® Glass recently teamed up to send the Wanderfulfounder and CEO to the Navajo Nation region of the American Southwest, tasking her with sharing the journey through her photos and stories. (If you’re heading to the rocky desert and hope to bring back pics like these, it’s a good idea to bring a phone like Beth’s, which is protected from shattering by its Gorilla Glass 4 cover glass.)

The first part of the trip took Beth and her crew to Betatakin, long-abandoned ancient home of the Ancestral Puebloan people (sometimes called the Anasazi), consisting of dwellings built into cliff walls.

Rain pouring down when the travelers arrived at the site could have made the already taxing 3-mile hike even more treacherous. “But the moment the hike started, the rain stopped,” Beth reports. Soon, the sun came out. “And then, just when the hike ended, the rain started again.”

Clearly, nature rewards its most dedicated devotees. And though you probably aren’t hoofing it to Betatakin in the near future, you can use the following 10 easy ways to swap out your confining indoor routine for a literal breath of fresh air:

1. Instead of a treadmill, run on a hiking trail or the pavement.

Some studies have claimed there are significant differences between running on a treadmill and running outdoors, but at least one biomechanics expert says that’s mostly bunk. All the same, it’s at least good for your psyche to trade in the treadmill for the sidewalk or a trail every once in a while. (Be safe and take appropriate precautions if you go somewhere remote by yourself, of course.)

2. Have lunch in the park.

It gets old wolfing down your midday meal in front of your work computer, whether you’re looking at spreadsheets or your favorite wellness blog. Pack up your lunch and find a nice bench in the park, where you can actually enjoy what you’re chewing and swallowing.

3. Instead of visiting a museum, visit a sculpture park.

Some of the world’s most incredible art can’t be crammed within the space between a museum’s walls. If there’s a sculpture park near you — and there are a lot of them — consider hitting it up the next time you need a dose of culture.

4. Instead of driving, bike or walk to work.

This one is huge — so big, in fact, as to probably seem daunting if you drive to work every day. Not everyone’s commute allows for less automotive modes of travel, but if yours does, even bicycling or walking once a week will provide you with a new perspective, a feeling of accomplishment, and a more relaxed start to the day.

5. Shop your local flea market or craft fair.

Shopping doesn’t limit you to schlepping around the mall or a big-box store. Flea markets, craft fairs, and farmers markets are all great places to satisfy the urge to spend a few bucks. As a bonus, they also offer opportunities to support individual artists and to purchase goodies that are used, recycled, or repurposed.

6. Instead of staying in a hotel, camp.

If you haven’t slept in a tent since you were 8, it’s time! Plenty of campsites offer modern amenities on-site or nearby, in case you’re not ready to go 100 percent Naked and Afraid yet.

7. Instead of going to a movie theater, go to a drive-in.

If one of the fewer than 350 drive-in theaters left in the United States is near you, how about suggesting it as an alternative to the Cineplex? It’s not just a chance to sit under the night sky and enjoy a piece of history — it’s also a way to try out your parents’ version of “Netflix and chill,” if you catch our drift.

8. Instead of wearing shoes, go barefoot in the grass.

Sound silly? Get up from your desk, find a park (or your backyard), and give it a try. Your soles will thank us.

9. Instead of making acraft using store-found materials, go on a hike and gather things found in nature.

Got that Etsy urge? See if you can concoct your next masterpiece out of wood, stone, flowers, and similar beautiful objects picked up on your next stroll through the woods.

10. Skip your workout and shovel snow.

This one is sometimes mandatory. But if your driveway and sidewalk are already taken care of, how about using the time you usually spend at body-pump class to help the neighbor with a bad back or the family with three small kids? Bracing!

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