Most people today spend their days glued to computers or mobile devices. With remote work on the rise, a lot of people don’t anymore need to commute to get to their workplace.
They have turned their home into their workplace, which has a lot of professional benefits but also several health-related side effects. The daily commute to and from work is an opportunity to get away from bright computer screens for a while and enjoy the scenery.
But with the daily commute gone for most people, they have begun to spend longer hours increasingly with their electronic devices.
For the majority of people today, being outdoors is a luxury they cannot afford. Not everyone can travel to the Swiss Alps for a holiday or be in a place too remote for Internet connectivity. It’s no wonder that many people today suffer from sleep and mental disorders.
Being surrounded by electronic gadgets all the time has several health effects, from poor sleep quality to loss of appetite to depression. Simply being outdoors for a few hours every day can bring a vast improvement.
The Outdoors Improves Mental Health
Have you ever noticed how you feel calm and relaxed when you are in the lap of nature? Whether you are sitting in your backyard or taking a stroll down the beach, outdoors have a calming and relaxing effect on our mind and bodies.
Simply taking a walk in a park after work every day can significantly improve your mood. It’s also the reason why you come back refreshed after a holiday.
Scientific research has proved there’s a strong connection between nature and mental health. In a study conducted by Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, it was found that people who live in the city with a lack of green open spaces are significantly more at risk for mental disorders compared to people who live in the countryside.
It isn’t hard to understand why a large number of people in urban settings suffer from insomnia depression anxiety and unhealthy appetites.
While it doesn’t mean that people living in the countryside do not get mental disorders, the number is significantly low.
The top 5 mental health benefits of being outdoors are:
Improved Mood: After long hours of work, your television is not where you should be resting. You should preferably be outdoors, taking a walk around the neighborhood or sitting on the porch with a relaxing drink.
You do not want to subject your brain to another brightly lit device just after you shut down your computer. Instead, going outside and basking in the fresh air will not only rejuvenate you but also will ask your tired brain and eyes.
When you come back inside, you will enjoy a better mood and a more relaxed state of mind. If you have a dog, it’s a wonderful excuse to be outdoors as often as possible.
Anxiety Relief: You must have noticed that being outdoors in fresh air helps relieve your mind when you are anxious or worked up about something. That’s because there is a strong connection between being amid nature and a decrease in negative emotions.
There is an increased incidence of anxiety and depressive disorders in young people around the world, leading public health officials to believe that spending more time in outdoor spaces is vital to mental health.
Spending time outdoors not only relieves anxiety but also calms down your mind to minimize anxiety-related disorders.
Beat Depression: If you often find yourself engaging in negative rumination, you should not only be getting more fresh air but also more sun.
A lack of vitamin D is one of the biggest causes of depression and seasonal affective disorder (also known as winter depression). Sunshine increases the production of serotonin also known as the happy chemical responsible for keeping us alert and energetic.
This is the opposite of being exposed to fluorescent light, which hurts the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Improved Concentration and Focus: If you are stuck on a project and the ideas are not coming, being outdoors in open space has shown to improve concentration and creativity. It isn’t without reason that nature is said to be inspiring and uplifting.
Relieve Stress: This is something that many of us often do. When we cannot handle the stress, we either go out for a walk or want to be alone in a quiet place outside until we feel a little relaxed.
This again proves the connection between natural spaces and a decline in negative emotions and stress.
What You Can Do
You do not have to go on a vacation to Los Angeles or Bali for reaping the health benefits of being in nature.
By being outdoors more often in your daily life, you can improve your mood, boost your creativity and lower your stress levels. For starters, try the following:
Start your day with a walk: It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the woods. Simply taking a walk around the neighborhood for an hour every morning will ensure a more positive start to the day.
Work Out in The Open: Instead of working out indoors, try doing it in the garden, or in the backyard, or at a park. Working out in fresh air heightens the benefits of exercise.
Practice Deep Breathing: When outside, do not just walk. Stop and take a deep breath, smell how fresh the air is and how it refreshes you. It also helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Go Camping: Once in a while, when the weather is nice, plan a camping trip. Spending a couple of days in the lap of nature, away from electronic devices, will not only rejuvenate you but also help you appreciate the positive side of life.
Whether you live in the city or the country, it’s always possible to spend time in the outdoors. Locating your nearest park and becoming part of their activities is the easiest step in the right direction.