How long has it been since you lounged on a beach, felt the sand between your toes, or taken a dip in the water of your favourite lake, ocean, or river? If you’re feeling down because it’s been a while since you’ve visited the water or other areas of wilderness, you may have nature deficit disorder.


About nature deficit disorder

A term coined by Richard Louv, nature deficit disorder refers to our mental and physical consequences when we are not connected to nature. Children are at the highest risk of nature deficit disorder, as they spend more time growing up with technology.

What are the symptoms of nature deficit disorder?

  • Physical illness
  • Mental illness
  • Trouble focusing
  • Weakened senses
  • Obesity

Other signs of nature deficit disorder are a weakening understanding and appreciation of nature as well as less concern for its well-being. What happens when we get so disconnected from nature that future generations stop fighting for it?

This is why kids suffering from nature deficit disorder is such a scary thought—because kids learn to care for the environment at a young age, and if they do not form these experiences early in life, they may never advocate for their waters.

If we are not spending time with our waters, we won’t be there to notice when they need us.


Why nature deficit disorder is a modern problem

Over the past decades, green spaces are disappearing and becoming damaged, while we increasingly spend time using technology and “experiencing” things from the comfort of our own homes. In the past 200 years or so since the Industrial Revolution, we have migrated away from working and living on rural lands and towards densely populated concrete jungles. This change has been sudden and harmful to our health since we are hard-wired to spend much more time outdoors than we currently do.

Getting outside and on the water may seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be!


Here are Swim Guide’s three simple tips to help you connect with familiar and new waters:


1. Use the Swim Guide Map to find your local beach

Not sure where you can dip your toes in the water? Check out our map on Swim Guide to find over 8,000 beaches in 11 different countries. Zooming in on the map will show you a local water body’s historical water quality status, and clicking “more info” will bring you to the beach page where you can find out more details like amenities, parking, and more!


2. Read Beach Basics to get inspired and informed

Ever wondered how whale poop creates healthy ecosystems or how microplastics are affecting our waters? Or maybe you’re looking for more practical advice on how to stay safe in tidal areas or identify harmful algae. Our Beach Basics page has many articles that will help you learn more about water so you can feel inspired to get outdoors and experience it for yourself.


3. Help advocate for clean waters by submitting your own beach photos and pollution reports

One of the negative effects of nature deficit disorder is the disconnect it creates between us and nature. Spending so much time indoors will impede those positive feelings and connection to the environment that breeds advocacy and a desire to protect. Swim Guide’s pollution report function and beach photo submissions are a great way to overcome this disconnect and participate in water advocacy.

When concerned members of the public submit pollution reports, it can bring attention and create action around pollution issues. By reporting pollution you are helping protect your water body and public health. Simply follow the instructions on our pollution report page to advocate for more swimmable waters!

Submitting photos of your local beach provides valuable data on up-to-date conditions. A great beach photo can help draw people outdoors and connect with the water. Check out our quick tips on how to take the perfect beach photo.

Modern problems require modern solutions and the Swim Guide is stepping in to help cure your nature deficit disorder with these three simple steps. Connecting with your local waterbody will not only help you feel stronger, calmer, more focused, but it will also help protect the water by creating more passionate water advocates!

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