Nature deficit disorder

I’d written this one in 2014, never did post it anywhere. Seems even more relevant now, in 2021, with corona lockdowns exacerbating the situation.

Two or three years back, I’d have laughed out loud, and ridiculed the person who put forward this theory. Now I’m one of the people talking about it and getting ridiculed. Weird how things change, huh?

Medical science prides itself in quantifying everything and providing proof. Admirable. It’s a characteristic of Western/ allopathic medicine that we should be proud of and strive to make better. But, we’ve taken it too far. We’ve closed our minds to things we can’t measure or don’t know how to quantify.
There’s no proof. We don’t understand, therefore it doesn’t exist. We should laugh at the crazy person with unusual ideas. We’ve got to change that.

Let’s get back to the fancy sounding ” Nature deficit disorder”
It’s mainly thought of as a mental health issue, but I’d like to go a bit further and claim that it also affects our physical health. Directly. Not just through our mood,cognition and emotions.

What is NDD?  It’s thought to be a disturbance in the mental well being of children who are not exposed enough, to the outdoors. Children who are either in school rooms or barricaded into homes by fearful parents. Children who’s only stimulation is though a LCD/LED screen. Who’s only social interaction is through the web.
I’d like to argue that it affects them physically and it affects adults too.

Adults deal with it a lot better than children because they have already been exposed to the outdoors ,during their mental and physical development. Our children haven’t been that lucky.

I don’t think there’s any parent reading this article, disagrees that outdoor time is essential for their children. But, how many of us actually take the effort to get them outdoors?
First, you’ve got to drag them away from their beloved screens.
Then you’ve to to fight your spouse who’s worried about the dangers.
Then you’ve got to get them to a safe place outdoors where there are no snakes, worms, germs, mud, sharp stones, animals, heights, water, pedophiles etc
Then, you’ve got to run around behind them. You can’t do that while you’re busy on facebook or on a conference call from the office .
It’s too much work. Dammit. Why can’t these pesky kids grow up like the adarshbalak we’ve seen in our NCERT textbooks?
Just give them your old iPad with a jungle themed game or two and they’ll get all the nature they need. Right?

Here’s what might happen if you don’t do all that work.
Attention deficit disorder, obesity, behavior issues, poor physical development, allergies, asthma, social disability, poor digestion, vitamin D deficiency, picky eating….. The list goes on.
You’re putting in hours at work so that you can make money for your family, but if either you, your spouse or your children are unhealthy because you couldn’t afford to take half an hour or of your schedule to go outdoors with them, what’s all that money going to do?

I’m not guilting you into playing outdoors with your kids. OK, maybe, I am.
The point is, I shouldn’t have to.
They’re our kids, everything we do is for them. Getting them outdoors everyday is just as important as earning money for their education and toys.

So, what do you do?
Make time.
Get out with them.
Watch, and protect, but don’t hover around and stop them from having fun at every step.  If it’s not going to kill them or maim them permanently, let them get hurt a little. That’s OK. Be ready to get yelled at by your spouse, though.
Get together with friends and go on group outings with your family.
Stop sanitising their surroundings so much. Children are meant to roll in the dirt and kiss puppies on the mouth. They’ll only be stronger for it.

By the way, outdoor time is good for you too. Try it.

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