1,000 hours outside

Happy New Year!

I sat down to catch up on emails on 1st Jan, and in among the junk there were a few gems. One link in particular, in the monthly email update from Wild Christian (part of A Rocha UK – highly recommend – you can find out more and sign up here), caught my eye. In amongst a list of suggestions…

Nurture connections offline. A digital detox at any age can help us pause, reduce stress and improve focus and sleep quality.  Purposefully explore technology-free times or areas of the house, switch to ‘airplane mode’ for the first hour in the morning and the last hour at night, reach for your Bible over your device(s) and write a list of outdoor things that you enjoy. Try ‘1000 hours outside’ to help re-wild your daily life and find a more harmonious balance.”

I clicked through, and found this brilliant website: 1,000 hours outside. It’s a bit advert heavy, but they are offering some pretty good content for free so I was prepared to put up with it. The point of the site is right there in the name – aspiring to spend 1,000 hours outside over the course of the year. It is aimed at children/parents, but it strikes me that this could be an ambitious and healthy aim for anyone.

A quick bit of mental maths told me that 1,000 hours outside in 2022 would mean around 3 hours per day (it is actually slightly less than 3 per day, but in that ball park). We are a pretty outdoors kind of family, but I don’t think we normally hit 3 hours outside each day… Feels a bit daunting in the middle of winter! But I love the ambition, and the more I read the more I think they are on to something.

Why 1,000 hours? The website (which clearly has a USA context, but probably not too wide of the mark for UK) claims that the average American child spends an average of 5-7 minutes per day in free play outside (only about 43 hours over a whole year), but around 1,200 hours per year watching screens (over 3 hours per day). Wow. Refreshingly they don’t just take pot shots at screen time, but instead aim to match time spent on screens with time outside. I’m in! And I love how Wild Christian are selling this as a way to nurture connections offline.

Is this anything more than a hippy idea about just being outside more? Much more. Sarah Wilson in her book This one wild and precious life (on our Links and recommendations page) talks about disconnection – which she identifies as being the main source of dis-ease in our world today, and at the heart of the climate crisis. Disconnection from others because we are constantly connected by technology, but only at a superficial level. Disconnected from nature by our walls, supermarket shopping, and neatly efficient lives of concrete and plastic. And even disconnected from ourselves – distracted to death. (I would add disconnected from God – the source of life and love and wholeness: shalom). This lack of deep connection hurts us in all kinds of ways – eating away at our humanity – and leads directly to a lack of care for nature and others. Just being outside – putting hands in the soil, breathing deeply, noticing and learning to treasure the everyday beauty and wonder all around – this is where care for creation, and a deeper and fuller humanity, begins. Mary Oliver puts it brilliantly:

Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit. Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.

Attention is the beginning of devotion.

Upstream – Mary Oliver

So though ‘1,000 hours outside’ might sound gimmicky, and though I normally veer away from any sort of New Years resolutions, I think we will give this a go. I’ve printed out a couple of progress tracker sheets from the 1,000 hours website – you colour in one block for each hour spent outside. The first is just for the first 100 hours (achievable!), and the second is for the full 1,000. Will let you know how it works out! We’ve already made a pretty good start I reckon – 7 hours in 3 days (not quite on track, but wait for those long summer days!).

Finally, if you haven’t spotted it yet then don’t forget Veganuary. I’ve been vegan for 3 years now, and love it. Whether you are already working towards a more plant based diet, or reckon yourself to be a blood red carnivore (!), this is a great chance to have a go with plant based food. There are LOADS of resources to help you out the Veganuary website, and I will be blogging on vegan food in the next few weeks… For now, to inspire you, here is what I rustled up for our vegan Christmas dinner – including Yorkshire puddings (recipe here), ‘no pigs in blankets’ (thanks Aldi), and a cracking nut roast (from a packet, not fresh – vegan doesn’t have to mean super complicated!). Bam.

Published by oikoslife

I am married, father of 2 young children (2014 and 2017), pioneering priest in the Church of England, surfer, climate activist and much more. Born in Yorkshire, and currently living on the Yorkshire Coast. Doing my best to live in good connection with God, self, neighbour and creation - working it out as I go.

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