Being Outside is Good For Your Mental Health
It is obvious that going outside and taking a walk is beneficial for your physical health, but the benefits go beyond that. Research shows that being outside is good for your mental health as well. With the increase of technology in the past decade, our reliance on technology and the global trend towards urban living means people are spending less and less time in nature. However, the evidence regarding the value of being outside continues to compile. Being outside can include anything from a walk through a city park to a camping trip in the wilderness. That being said, you can still connect to nature even if you live in a city. You just have to make the effort to find green spaces. Continue reading as we touch on the mental health benefits of spending time outside.
Impact of the Outdoors
First, spending time outside has been proven to reduce stress. Stress can have huge impacts on both your physical and mental health. Spending just 20-30 minutes outside can reduce cortisol levels in your body, thus reducing the amount of stress and muscle tension you may experience. In addition, being outside can lift your mood and decrease your feelings of anxiety or depression. This could be because there are less stimuli around us when we are in nature. Therefore, you can actually take some time to relax and tune back into yourself. Being outside is a great way to practice mindfulness and tune out all of the extra stressors in your life. You may even feel more energized after spending time outside! Furthermore, exposure to direct sunlight has been shown to boost serotonin levels, thus boosting your mood and overall self-esteem. Direct sunlight and fresh air are things that cannot be replicated indoors.
What You Can Do Outdoors
There is no right or wrong way to spend time outdoors. Simply sitting in nature can be enough to reap mental health benefits. Some ideas of activities you can do outdoors include:
- Go for a hike, walk, or run
- Go camping
- Do your normal workout outside
- Meditate or do yoga outside
- Have a picnic in a nearby park
- Go for a swim
- Take a bike ride along a trail with greenery
How Much Time Should You Spend Outside?
Research suggests that 120 minutes in nature per week is the ideal minimum. It doesn’t matter if this is a continuous stretch of time or not. You can still benefit mentally and physically even if the 120 minutes per week is broken up into smaller segments throughout the week. Even if you can’t get to 120 minutes per week, try to get outside as much as possible. You won’t regret it. Being outside generally means you are being active, which can help to release endorphins or “feel-good” chemicals.
Still Need Extra Support?
Struggling with mental illness is hard. If you haven’t been feeling like yourself lately, it may take more than some time outside to start feeling better and that is totally okay. In addition to spending more time outside, you may consider trying therapy. Chriselda Santos, licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, understands how the pressures and stress of daily life can negatively impact your mental health. She believes that by focusing on your natural strengths and capabilities, you can adopt healthy behaviors and learn how to better cope. By equipping you with the skills to reframe your way of thinking and take control of your life, Chriselda can help you feel hopeful once again. To learn more about Chriselda’s therapy techniques, or to book an appointment, visit her website.