- Isabelle Morley, PsyD
3 Reasons to Go Outside Today
Being in nature has a powerful impact on our mood. Don't let the day go by without finding time to be outside (no matter the weather!).
Although we spend much of our time indoors, humans benefit from time in nature. It can be easy to spend the afternoon binge watching a new show, but taking a long walk is probably better for you.
The Benefits of Connecting with Nature
Spending time in nature is a quick way to lower stress, improve your health, boost your mood, and regain perspective. It can also be a practice in mindfulness, helping you feel more present and connected to the world around you.
So here are three reasons to go outside, breathe deep, and enjoy the outdoors!
1. It's Good for your Physical Health
Study after study has proven the numerous health benefits of being outdoors. Taking a long, brisk walk (or even a long, leisurely one!) can help improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles and bones, and prevent diseases such as high blood pressure. The CDC recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise) each week. If you break it up evenly throughout the week, that's about 21 minutes a day, just enough time to walk a mile or two around your neighborhood.
2. It's Good for you Mental Health
Stress releases cortisol, a hormone that makes you feel anxious and tense. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure, and in the long-term it can have a negative impact on both your mental and physical health.
If you aren't careful, your day can be consumed with stress from the moment you wake up to the minute you put your head down on your pillow. The constant flood of stress hormones and anxious thoughts takes a toll on your physical and mental health, but going outside can provide a much needed break from worry. Being in nature for even a short amount of time can lower stress, bringing your cortisol levels back within the normal range.
There is no doubt that spending more time outdoors has a positive effect on your mental wellbeing. Studies continue to show the benefits of being in the natural environment.
3. It Reminds You of the Bigger Picture
It's easy to forget the bigger picture in life, but nature is a quick way to reconnect with it. Humans have a precious and finite amount of time in this world, and although we might become overly focused on the small daily stressors ("I have to send that email first thing!"), it helps to remember that we are connected to a larger cycle of life.
The meaning of life is bigger than the little things that often take our focus- whether or not you emptied the dishwasher or if you mispronounced a word in a meeting- and spending mindful time outdoors can help remind us of that. Look up at the trees, watch a leaf float by, listen for crickets or squirrels, smell the salt water as ocean waves roll in, feel the wind blow on your cheeks- be present where you are and enjoy it.