Why Being Outside is Good for Your Mental Health

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From Sierra Powell

You don’t have to get on a jet to go on an adventure in an exotic location many miles away, to get to know the great outdoors and keep you happy. Being outdoors alone in nature offers numerous benefits for your lifestyle and your soul. It’s been a tough year for all of us, but things are getting better and most people are trying to get the best life possible. Being outside is good for your mental health and we can prove it.

A walk in the woods

Let’s be honest; we all experience sadness and go through challenges. Common mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and stress can affect individuals in a number of ways. You may not want to seek help from a therapist or take medication for your ailments.

Then take a walk in the woods.
That’s true; Mental health experts believe that people of all ages can get in a better mood by getting outdoors. In fact, the geriatric community in particular can benefit from a forest walk, according to the Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance.

Only 20 to 30 minutes

The United States alone has proven to be one of the most stressful countries in the world. About 55 percent of Americans say they experience stress every day.

The good news is that you can take your bad mood out into the great outdoors and have some fun, like camping in Kansas or picnicking at the local park. Just 20 to 30 minutes of contact with nature can lower the stress-inducing cortisol level.

Psychiatrists have found that both stress and muscle tension can melt after soaking up the sun and fresh air in nature and doing some type of exercise, activity, or physical exercise.
It is actually scientific and is called ecotherapy, which means that humans really have a strong connection with their environment and with planet earth itself.

Serotonin boost, happiness hormone

Your mental health also gets a natural bonus in terms of serotonin levels when you spend time outdoors. Serotonin is often referred to as the “happiness hormone” and for good reason. This hormone and neurotransmitter in the brain is a mood regulator and plays several roles. Serotonin can also affect your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.

Studies have shown that your brain increases serotonin intensity when you are in direct sunlight and in the fresh air. This helps reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
A green environment can really put you in a better mood and boost your self-esteem.

Present at the moment

When you go outside, you can move your body, breathe in a natural environment, and calm your mind. It’s a good balancing act for the daily stresses of life.
You can clear your head, be present in the moment and recharge your batteries both mentally and physically.

Being outdoors can also spark your creativity and restore your ability to concentrate and alert.
Mental exhaustion can harm us, and yet something as simple and beautiful as nature can get us back on track.

Engage the senses

There are so many activities to try out in the great outdoors that you can do alone, as a couple, as a family or as a group. You can spend time with the outdoors by walking, hiking, swimming, pitching a tent, gardening, doing yoga, bird watching, biking, jogging, picnicking, canoeing and the list goes on and on.

When immersing yourself in nature, don’t forget to take in everything around you. Use your senses to maximize the health benefits of being outdoors. Studies show, for example, that listening to nature sounds like in a babbling brook or the chirping of birds helps reduce stress.

It’s no secret that your physical health is important, but your mental health is important too, and often we neglect it and feel the struggles of everyday life. It’s comforting to know that a green environment is good for people of all ages. Taking time to reconnect with our environment is easy, calming, and relaxing. Go outside; benefit!

Author biography

Sierra Powell is a freelance content writer who graduated from the University of Oaklahoma with majoring in Mass Communication and minor in writing. When she’s not writing, cooking, sewing and walking with her dogs

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect all or some of our beliefs and guidelines. All links on this page do not necessarily mean that they were endorsed by Defying Mental Illness.

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