How the 30×30 Challenge helped me find calmness and connection

Ro Nwosu (WildRoga) is a yoga teacher, trainer, and fitness educator known for her infectious laugh and out-of-the-box thinking to get people moving.

August is when I usually arrange the last of my summer plans and start looking forward to fall.

This year I had a busy start to the summer, so I was craving a routine. Sometimes knowing where to start can be difficult, especially after moving to a new town and getting settled in.

Ontario Parks challenged me to make nature a habit this August by spending 30 minutes outside for 30 days for the Healthy Parks Healthy People 30×30 Challenge.

Getting started

In the beginning I thought “can I make time for 30 minutes every day?”

I quickly realized the key was to plan a few routine activities that I could cycle through.

I started my first day of the 30×30 Challenge by taking a 30 minute walk around my new area to study the architecture and think about what other activities I could do.

person in athletic gear crouched down

Ontario Parks gave me some great ideas for ways to get my nature time in.

When I got home, I made a list, placed it on my desk, and put reminders in my calendar.

It’s important for me to set time aside so that I don’t bail on the commitment.

Taking a break from the virtual space

As a yoga teacher and fitness instructor, a lot of my work has shifted to virtual.

Some days I get caught up working behind the desk and forget about taking breaks. This challenge reminded me that scheduling time to move for myself is important. 

child on play structure

It was also nice seeing other people enjoying the great outdoors with me, and I felt more connected to myself and society. 

Creating a 30 minute routine helped me put things into perspective and take in gratitude, especially when it came to noticing how much the outdoors has to offer for not only myself, but my family.

It was great getting them involved by going to the beach more, playing at the park, running through greenspace, and having a snack or two while chatting about our day or what we could get into next.

Connection hits differently when you’re outdoors enjoying everything around you.

The first few days took some getting used to, but I noticed that once I was already outside it was hard for me to go back inside!

My mood changed drastically after my daily nature break. I was more focused when organizing the rest of my day and I didn’t feel super stressed when it came to answering emails. It made the rest of the day more manageable!

I started to make it a point to do more of my regular work outdoors, like completing paperwork, creating my yoga classes, or just leisurely reading a book.

Mindfulness in the outdoors

Whenever I went for a hike or walk, I made sure to pack a blanket and a water bottle so I could take moments to stop and enjoy my surroundings.

There’s so much to see, whether you’re on the city streets or a wilderness trail.

I loved walking around town seeing people enjoying themselves, and noticing the colours and sounds.

I explored nature trails in my hometown, near Calabogie, and beyond. As I walked I watched the sky change colour and felt the temperature change.

person standing on shore looking out to water with ducks

I noticed the plant life, the intertwined roots, the calmness of ponds, and the wildlife, from frogs to insects to chipmunks.

I live on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people. Taking the time outdoors to respect and recognize this in itself was an expression of gratitude and appreciation.

New surroundings

After one or two weeks of exploring my own area, it was time to take it a bit further.

The family and I set out to camp at Rideau River Provincial Park in Kemptville.

family standing in front of tent on campsite

This park is located along the Rideau Waterway with beautifully shaded campsites, plenty of open space, wildlife, and tons of opportunities for activities.

If you’re visiting for the day, I recommend picking up a seasonal permit. You can  go canoeing, explore the trails, hang at the beach, fish, have a picnic, or even take a nature nap!

child and mother on boardwalk looking at water

My family and I chose to camp so we could spend a few days without technology, walls, or schedules, and just enjoy ourselves.

It may have been a really hot day, but we were able to cool off at the beach and on the Shoreline Trail, which is shaded and has beautiful foilage.

We spotted several woodpeckers, lily pads, blooming flowers, and fungi growing out from the trees. I took the opportunity to teach my son about ecosystems and how they work.

We learned about the Discovery programs offered at many parks. Children can learn about the different types of animals and insects, and other fun aspects of nature in the area.

Our camping trip definitely gave us much more than the required 30 minutes of daily nature time. The real challenge came when we got home and needed to continue getting our 30 minutes in.

We found time to walk, rollerblade, and go to the beach to ensure we got our nature fix every single day.

The end was just the beginning

Although the challenge was just for 30 days, I encourage you to make time for nature every day.

silhouette of period with outstretched arms in front of sunset

Getting outdoors helped me sleep better and I felt stronger mentally and more creative.

Exploring and moving had me observing more and really helped to uplift me and my family over the past 30 days.

It was a great way to explore the new area that I am calling home, create more memories with family, and enjoy all aspects of outdoors and nature.

I’m going to continue spending 30 minutes outdoors throughout the fall and winter, while recognizing and respecting the beautiful land and provincial parks right at my front door.

Just because the 30×30 Challenge is over for 2022, that doesn’t mean you should stop getting outside! 

There are countless benefits to getting outside for 30 minutes a day.