Last Updated on December 19, 2022 by Lori Geurin
The outdoors is an amazing place. It’s a place that can help us feel better, more relaxed, and more at ease with ourselves. This can be true for many mental health issues. Whether you have depression or anxiety, or any other problem, the great outdoors can help you find relief from those difficult feelings!
- Mental Health and the Outdoors
- Walking or hiking helps you discover new things.
- You can take your mind off stress.
- It's a chance to disconnect.
- Being active increases endorphins, giving you a natural high.
- Spending time in nature can help lower stress and anxiety levels naturally.
- You get to be mindful.
- Nature is the perfect place to clear your head and reconnect with yourself.
- Final Thoughts About Mental Health and the Outdoors
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Mental Health and the Outdoors
Here are a few advantages of spending time outdoors provides.
Walking or hiking helps you discover new things.
When you’re out in nature, there are no distractions. It’s just you, the trees, and the sky. The world slows down for a moment, and you can really connect with yourself and your surroundings.
Walking or hiking is not about reaching the end goal—it’s about enjoying all that happens along the way (or sometimes not even getting there at all).
Exploring new trails provides opportunities to discover new things about yourself: do you like swimming? Running? Hiking up mountains? Do you like being alone or interacting with other people? Do animals make your heart happy? Or do they scare the living daylights out of ya?!
Learning how much physical activity helps our brain stay sharp is important information for everyone who needs their mental faculties at their best. But we need to remember that it also feels good—really good! So go ahead and get some fresh air today; just take it one step at a time!
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You can take your mind off stress.
It’s easy to forget about the stresses of life when you’re surrounded by nature. The outdoors provides a much-needed distraction from your worries, allowing you to take a break from them for a while and enjoy nature’s beauty. If you’re looking for ways to de-stress, spending time outside is one of the best things you can do.
Health Benefits of Being in Nature
There are many other physical and mental health benefits of being outside, including:
- Improved concentration and focus
- Better sleep at night
- Lower stress levels
- More energy and stamina
- Better immune system function
- Improved mood
- Less depression[*]
- Higher self-esteem
- Better sleep[*]
It’s a chance to disconnect.
The benefits of being in the moment are not just for your own well-being but for everyone else around you as well.
When you’re enjoying nature, it’s much easier to be considerate of those around you than when you’re glued to your phone, completely unaware of what’s happening around you. Letting technology take over can cause you to forget how important it is to be present for others, whether with friends, coworkers, or family members who have come into your lives and enriched them in ways you couldn’t have imagined before meeting them.
Being outdoors allows us time spent away from screens that keep us connected 24/7 without actually making us feel more connected than ever before (if anything).
Focusing on one thing at a time is another great benefit of spending time outside—and one that will certainly improve your mental health if practiced regularly!
As mentioned previously: technology has made multitasking second nature for many people today, but this isn’t necessarily good news when it comes down to improving brain function over time (in fact, studies are showing that multitasking actually reduces productivity and increases stress levels).
Being active increases endorphins, giving you a natural high.
If you’re feeling depressed, it can be hard to stay motivated. But one of the best ways to get out of a funk is by exercising.
Doing so can actually make you feel happier because it releases endorphins into your brain. Endorphins are chemicals that give you a natural high and make you feel relaxed or euphoric. These chemicals are released when your body goes through physical activity such as running or lifting weights—and they make you feel good for hours after exercising!
To reap these benefits, try a new sport or activity like rock climbing or paddleboarding: something active that gets your heart rate up but doesn’t put too much strain on your body (since stress can also contribute to depression).
Spending time in nature can help lower stress and anxiety levels naturally.
Spending time in nature can help lower stress and anxiety levels.
Exposure to the natural world has been shown to lower stress and anxiety levels, decrease blood pressure, improve immunity, and increase creativity and productivity—and there’s even evidence that it can help people live longer.
The feeling of being outdoors is so profound because a large part of our brain evolved to focus on survival in nature over millions of years—and this survival instinct still exists today, which means we have an overwhelming response when we’re outdoors.
When you’re in nature, you’re not focused on social media or other distractions from your phone or computer; instead, you’re more likely to be more present in your surroundings and enjoy the sounds around you (or lack thereof).
You get to be mindful.
Mindfulness is a practice that helps you be more aware of your thoughts and emotions.
It is not just about focusing on what’s happening right now but also on how it feels, whether it’s pleasurable or challenging. You can practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime.
Mindfulness can help you to relax and feel more at ease with yourself and others.
Nature is the perfect place to clear your head and reconnect with yourself.
You’re not alone if it feels like your mind is always on overdrive. You might be wondering what’s wrong with you and why you can’t just relax. While there are many reasons why this happens, one big cause is that we spend a lot of time indoors and in front of screens, which makes our brains work overtime trying to process all the information coming at them.
When we’re outside in nature, however, our brains feel more relaxed because they’re taking in all sorts of new information: The sights, sounds, and smells around us stimulate different parts of the brain than what we experience indoors (and even when we’re on screens). As a result, being outside helps us get back into sync with ourselves—including helping us connect with our feelings better than when we’re inside!
So when you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or just plain stressed out, try going outside for a little while and see how you feel afterward. If you live in an urban area, try to find a park or other green space nearby. If you live in the suburbs or countryside, go for a walk or hike through nature.
Final Thoughts About Mental Health and the Outdoors
I hope this article has inspired you to take action and get out there. Finding the time and motivation can be challenging, but it’s worth it. It’s easy to forget how much good exercise can do for us when we’re stuck indoors all day.
If you don’t have much time right now, that’s okay! Just try taking 10 minutes in your lunch break or before bedtime to go for a walk outside. You’ll feel better about yourself in no time!
What are your favorite ways to get some fresh air and exercise? Let us know in the comments.