I was fortunate that my mom let me get dirty as a child. I spent much of my childhood climbing, stomping, splashing, digging, swimming, and sliding around in grass, dirt, clay, sand, mud, and fresh and saltwater. As I’ve gotten older, my peers and I slowly began moving inside. But that urge to explore and get dirty has always been a part of me even if it was just a faint echo in the back of my mind.

This month, I’ve embraced the continual rainy weather, slip-sliding along muddy trails, feeding horses in heavy rain, and voluntarily belly-flopping into mud pits. I’ve been having a blast:

But why? With the luxuries of modern life, we can spend each day carefully avoiding coming in contact with the earth. Strap on your rain boots and pop open your umbrella. Walk on the sidewalk and quickly duck into your car. There’s no reason to get muddy, is there?

Yes, for week four, I’m going hit you with more research. This time, it’s about getting dirty.

The National Wildlife Federation published a report in 2012 entitled, “The Dirt on Dirt.” You can read the full report here, but here’s a quick breakdown:

Getting dirty can…

  1. Promote an active lifestyle
  2. Build a stronger immune system
  3. Improve mood and reduce anxiety
  4. Improve ability to learn
  5. Boost creativity

I could continue citing this report and dig even deeper into the studies the report references. But seriously, isn’t that list of five convincing enough?

For the final nine days of this challenge, I will attempt to incorporate more dirt into the everyday. I don’t have a real plan, and I don’t need one. All I need to do is step off the concrete and start exploring the naturally dirty world.

Check back each week for an update on my experience.
Follow me on twitter @audreywanders #31daysofnature.
Join me outside, wherever you are, regardless of the date.
Let me know what you find.

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