Find Your Way to the Great Outdoors

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Get outside with the Alameda Free Library’s Library Outside program. The typical day for an American adult is a whirlwind of tasks.
Breakfast, commute, work all day or evening, or night (if you’re lucky at only one job, but sometimes at two or three), commute, shopping, dinner, chores, prep for the next day, check emails, check social media, contact family and friends. 
If you’re a parent, add in scheduling, ferrying kids to and from school, after-school lessons or club meetings, supervising homework, refereeing between children, or children and spouse or you and spouse, getting them ready for bed and preparing for the coming day. And all that doesn’t include weekends with chores, soccer practice, sleepovers and more.
Read that last paragraph again. If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably notice that your heartbeat sped up and your breathing quickened. You may have grimaced a bit or clenched your teeth. Now read the following:
Sunshine, breeze, birdsong.
Bet your heart slowed right back down, didn’t it? We need a daily dose of nature to combat the stress of just plain old life.
More and more we find ourselves indoors during the majority of our waking hours. We’ve been pushed, by finances, by technology, by expectations, to be better and more efficient at all things. We’ve also been told, and sometimes shown in graphic detail, that it’s dangerous to go outside. We’re made to feel there are frightening people, scary animals and natural disasters just waiting around every corner to wreak havoc on us.
While there are risks to being outside, the bonuses outweigh those risks tremendously. Need to focus on a report that’s due tomorrow? A 15-minute walk outside will help calm you, clear your head, get the oxygen flowing and help you be more productive. A 30-minute walk around the block in the evening will help work out some of the kinks from the day and make it easier for you to fall asleep, and stay asleep. 
You don’t need to do big 20-mile hikes uphill with a heavy pack. Current health guidelines suggest just thirty minutes a day of exercise. That’s something most of us, if we really want to, can carve out of our schedules. Of course, many people work-out either at home or in a neighborhood gym, so you may not need more exercise.
How about time to just breathe? Take time to stand or sit out in your yard. Feel the grass beneath your feet, smell the flowers, watch the squirrels or listen to the birds. The Alameda Free Library’s Library Outside project is here to help you do just that with information, presentations, hikes and more. 
Feed your soul. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Being less stressed helps you, your family, your co-workers and your entire community. It’s pretty amazing that a little thing like birdsong can do all that for you. Find your way back outside. It’s beautiful out there. 
Learn more at www.librariesoutside.us, at the Alameda Free Library’s project blog or by calling 747-7777.

Cosette Ratliff is the supervising librarian for adult services at the Alameda Free Library