Why Being Outside Is Good For Mental Health

Shut off your laptop and stroll along the trail towards a forest canopy, where the gentle breeze has a therapeutic effect. Get yourself to your nearest outdoor space—away from the hum of traffic and the whispers of skyscrapers—and allow your body and mind sink into the natural surroundings if you’re in need of a creative reset, a dose of relaxation, or the chance to exchange turmoil for peace. Numerous research findings indicate a good correlation between outdoor activities and mental well-being. Not persuaded? Continue reading to learn how spending time in nature might help your mental well-being!

Reduce tension and anxiety

First, let’s look at a natural ability that practically everyone may benefit from: going outside reduces tension and anxiety. In one study, it was even examined how hospital patients who had windows facing the outdoors felt less pain and tension than those who did not. It seems that photos of nature could help lower diastolic blood pressure! Furthermore, spending time in nature or going on an exploration can lower levels of cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones linked to stress (unless, of course, you’re skydiving or have an amazing wildlife encounter). Can you imagine what nature can do when you spend hours strolling trails, taking a woodland bath, or unwinding by a body of water? After all, hospital patients have been shown to recover faster just by looking at green spaces from within. It’s absurd to consider!

Activate Your Mind and Focus

Trees possess the enchanted power to infuse your mind with creative ideas or help you stay focused on your current activity with only a swish of their branches. While it’s true that drinking wine can provide a creative and concentrated boost (I know I have!), there are other natural ways to achieve the same results. According to one study, even a few seconds of green time can help awaken drowsy people. Students were given an extremely tedious activity that involved tapping computer keys by Australian researchers. The findings demonstrated that students outperformed those who stopped to gaze at a concrete roof when they looked for just forty seconds at a flowery, green roof during the trial.

I notice that whether I work remotely or online, by Friday (or if I spend the weekend indoors), my creative thinking and attention span start to flag. Even so, on Mondays when I sit down to work, the thoughts that occur to me during my weekend hikes, camping trips, or outdoor activities flow. My emphasis can be changed even at midday when I take a break to run or stroll by the river! Therefore, take a mental break at your local green area if you’re feeling stuck or need a creative boost.

Boost the immune system

Though it may not be considered “mental health,” having a compromised immune system can have crippling effects, such as persistent fatigue, nausea, and stomachaches. It goes without saying that vitamin D helps your body absorb more minerals, such as calcium, and strengthens your bones, blood, and immune system! “Yeah, that’s great, but what if I live in a place where it rains almost all the time or where it gets really dark, really fast in the winter?” is probably what’s on your mind. We also hear you!

Fortunately, plants release a substance known as “phytoncides,” so simply being among them can be beneficial. Phytoncides are defined as “antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees” in one study, which means that they essentially have some kind of magical, beneficial immune-healing effect. The immune system’s benefits from forest bathing, or “Shinrinyoku” as it is known in Japanese, were studied in the same study. The trip boosted NK activity and cells, which can kill tumor cells and contaminated cells, according to the study. Therefore, spending time among plants and trees can greatly improve your immunity, which may also have a positive impact on your mental health. Who enjoys constantly feeling “blah”? Not by me!

Boost your self-confidence

What other mental health advantages may you reap from being outside? Even a brief period of time spent outside might improve your self-esteem! One article—which is supported by a scientific study—discusses how spending even five minutes in a green place, like going for a quick walk or doing some gardening, can improve your self-esteem. After examining 1252 participants of all ages, the study concluded that young individuals and those with mental illnesses saw the greatest advantages from brief visits to green spaces.All in all, though, everyone won out. It turned out that hanging out beside a body of water worked best! Moving outdoors allows you to value your body’s capabilities over its appearance, which is why participants in another study on body image reported feeling more love for their bodies after doing so.

These are just a few ways that spending time outside can improve your mental health, and you know what? You can enjoy the benefits without having to locate a spectacular location. Go visit your backyard garden or a local park. Of course, exploring a new place is always exciting and interesting, but if you just need a little mental adjustment, a nearby green spot might work wonders!

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