Summer is closely approaching and we’ve already seen quite a few beautiful, sunny days where the outdoors seems to be just begging us to put down our computers and go for a stroll. It is time for us to open our windows and feel the soft breeze flow through our homes, get outside and soak up the warm rays of the sun, and just enjoy being alive and able to feel the sun on our faces.
The truth is, summer is a great opportunity for us to get outside and enjoy the world around us, which many of us do not do enough of — especially if you work from home or in an office space all week.
The Benefits of Being Outdoors
Being outside brings a lot of benefits to both our minds and our bodies and here we’ll dive into just 5 ways that being outdoors can improve your mental health
1. Boosts Mood
Natural light increases the production of Vitamin D and serotonin. Both of these compounds play important roles in regulating our moods (and are often referred to as mood boosters). This is why even if you only spend a few minutes outside you can come back inside feeling rejuvenated and less stressed, anxious, or depressed.
Spending time outside amongst the greenery can also help to lessen the amount of time that we spend ruminating or replaying negative instances over and over again in our brains — this process can make depression or anxiety more difficult to recover from, but is, unfortunately, very common in people who experience depression or anxiety.
2. Helps Regulate Sleep
Our bodies are hardwired to produce melatonin (the hormone that makes us feel tired) when we are experiencing a lack of natural light. Because of this, we can often get drowsy in the middle of the afternoon if we’ve been inside all day.
So, rather than surrendering to that afternoon nap or letting your tiredness affect your work productivity for the day, go out for a few minutes during the day to remind your body that the day isn’t over yet. This can help to keep us more alert during the day, which, in turn, helps us to have an easier time falling asleep at night as well.
3. Lowers Stress
According to studies, like this one, going outside and seeing the beautiful greenery can actually help to reduce psychological stress. In a world that is filled with stressful events, activities, and interactions, let’s be honest, we take any stress-relievers that we can get.
So, try to incorporate just 20-30 minutes of time outdoors each day to help relieve stress and appreciate the beauty in the world around us — even if you have to get right back to work or school afterward.
4. Improves Work and School Performance
A lot of us can have trouble focusing when we are in school or work environments — like classrooms and offices — because our brains have a hard time separating important information from unimportant information. However, studies have shown that spending time outside can actually help us to concentrate and focus by improving our working memory.
So, try getting outside for small breaks throughout the day if you can — especially if you are feeling distracted. If, however, you can’t get outside, it can also be helpful to try sitting somewhere where you can see trees and other greenery outside while you are doing your work.
5. Helps You Exercise
Exercising isn’t just important for your physical health. Our minds and our bodies are connected and exercise can have just as many benefits for our minds as it can our bodies. Luckily, if you’re already getting outside, you’re likely already doing an activity that helps you get some exercise — such as walking or gardening.
What Can You Do to Get Out More
If you’re not sure how to get yourself outside more regularly, here are some ideas that can get you started and help get some fresh air into your system.
- Go for a walk — it can be something as short as 5 minutes or as long as you’d like and you can even go with a walking buddy (or take your dog along with you!)
- Take a camping trip
- Try gardening
- Go birdwatching
- Take your regular activities outdoors — try bringing your book or laptop outside and doing your work or other activities under the sky
- Move your desk by a window to see the outdoors
- Try an outdoor activity or workout class
- Have a picnic at a park
- Try meditation or yoga outside
- Bring the outdoors in — introduce some new greenery to your home. Potted plants can liven up a room, freshen up the air, and even have a calming effect on our minds
These are just a few ideas of activities that you can do to get outside more frequently as summer approaches. Our homes may make us feel safe and comfortable, but holing ourselves up inside of them really makes us miss out on the incredible benefits that the outdoors can bring. With just 20-30 minutes a day of time spent outdoors, you can have dramatic improvements to your mental health (as well as your physical health!).
If you are wanting to get outside more but these tips aren’t really doing it for you or you simply want some more personal guidance on how to handle any mental illness you may be experiencing, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow.