A new study released by NYU notes the importance of new and diverse experiences for our well-being. The results, which appear in the journal Nature Neuroscience, reveal a previously unknown connection between our daily physical environments and our sense of well-being. “These results suggest a reciprocal link between the novel and diverse experiences we have during our daily exploration of our physical environments and our subjective sense of well-being,” observes Hartley, at NYU’s Center for Neural Science and NYU Langone Health Neuroscience Institute.
In a time where our experiences and opportunities are limited by a pandemic, how do we provide this for our children, families and ourselves? While summer camps (the ones that are open) are a great way for kids to experience new activities and sports, and meet new people and friends, how does this play out on the weekends and in our lives outside of camp during a time of covid?
Let’s start here. Did you ever put yourself in the shoes of your toddler? In a toddler’s eyes, everything is new and amazing. Having that perspective as we walk out our front door, may help our experiences become new and diverse just by changing our outlook.
Below, we thought we’d compile three ways in which we may be able to have new experiences safely. We’d love to hear from yours as well.
Nature calls! It doesn’t have to be a heavily trafficked trail, but just outside our front doors there is a world of insects, plants, seedlings, and trees to spend some time exploring. I’m sure we’ll be surprised just spending time detailing leaves on a tree, looking for little creatures, or just sitting with our eyes closed and listening to the sounds of birds, cars, and the world around us.
Becoming a nature photographer can also help to look more closely at the details of our outdoor surroundings. After spending some time with our children taking photos, we can select a few to get printed online and create an album, hang them in our rooms or send them as postcards to friends or family far away.
Using that same photograph, can we make an abstract painting? Can we use a pencil and draw it? Can we find old magazines and make a collage that represents that photo?
According to the World Sports Encyclopedia (2003), there are 8,000 indigenous sports and sporting games. That means we have the opportunity to learn thousands of new ways to use our bodies and play with balls, run and jump. Spending some time watching some clips online and then trying them out ourselves is another way to have some new experiences.
Now is a great time to connect with our older loved ones, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, etc. Learning from them and their memories can be another way to have new and diverse experiences. Maybe it means creating a book of stories by giving them a call to ask how things were when they were younger, or simply just listening to how they met the person they loved, we can get a sense of our past and how we’ve learned (or not) from years ago.
Diverse and new experiences don’t need to be limited to visiting every state in the country, but if we look closely at who and what is around us, we can experience something new and different in our homes each day.