We know getting outside is good for your physical health, and it’s especially important right now during the coronavirus pandemic when social distancing can lead to loneliness. For starters, being out in nature often means participating in some activity. Whether it’s a sport, a walk around the block, or a hike, there’s no question that being outside often gets your blood pumping.
But, did you know that there are also several mental health benefits to going outside?
Studies have shown that spending time outside each week can significantly improve your mental health and help to manage specific conditions.
Let’s look at how going outside can benefit your mental health so you can “take a hike” as soon as possible!
1. It Gives You an Energy Boost
One study suggests that spending just 20 minutes outside can give you the energy you would find in one cup of coffee. Between the sunlight and the fresh air, being outside can boost your energy and give you a lift in the middle of the day.
You’ll feel even more energized if you get active outside since it will boost your serotonin levels. This impact is especially useful if you’ve been inside all day, or if you’ve been staring at a computer screen.
2. It Can Make You Feel Happier
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts thousands of people each year. Short days and low levels of light can harm people’s moods, energy levels, and stress levels.
Research has shown that getting outside for a few minutes each day can fight back against the effects of SAD. Even if the weather is cloudy and gray, spending time outside will give you more natural light, offering a pick-me-up when you need it most. So give yourself some emotional spring cleaning and get outside!
3. It Reduces Anxiety and Stress
Because being outside can make you feel happier, you’re less likely to experience stress and anxiety symptoms.
You’ll also get to experience free aromatherapy when you’re in the great outdoors. Everything from flowers and plants to freshly-cut grass can cause you to feel calmer and more tranquil. And taking that calming trip outside can help you be more mindful, present in the moment, to reduce stress and anxiety.
4. It Boosts Your Creativity
Have you been stuck inside for a while, and you feel like you’re hitting a mental block? Whether you’re a writer, artist, or you’ve just hit a wall at work, try getting outside for a few minutes.
Being outdoors can spark your creativity. It allows you to step away from your computer and your routine and find inspiration in the little, everyday things. From the sights and sounds to the smells, you’re sure to garner some kind of inspiration from your surroundings when you step outside.
Getting outside can also help to improve your focus. If your lack of creativity comes from feeling like you have a dozen things to think about, harnessing your concentration can be a big help.
5. You’ll Sleep Better
While you might not initially think sleep and your mental health are connected, they undoubtedly are. People who struggle with mental health issues often have issues with sleeping. Insomnia is usually a prominent symptom of those with depression or anxiety.
Spending time outside can help you to sleep better at night. Getting outside every day can help to “reset” your natural circadian rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep when it gets dark outside and wake up in the morning around the same time each day. Developing that sleep routine can improve your focus and energy while allowing you to feel less stressed.
COUNSELING COLUMBUS OHIO
Getting outside can do so much for your mental health as well as your physical health. Even if you can’t afford to spend hours in the great outdoors each day, commit to a few minutes of self-care for your mental health.
If spending time just isn’t enough, and you feel like you could use some professional help to counter anxiety and stress, please reach out for support. You’re not alone, and Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy to find relief and help manage stress and anxiety symptoms. Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here to help.