In a time when staying inside has become the new normal, going outside is still important. As the weather warms up and the sun shines high in the sky, there is no better time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Spending time outside is not only good for your physical well-being; it can also benefit your mental health.
Green Exercise is More than a Breath of Fresh Air
After spending so much time indoors during the winter months, you are probably eager to get outside and spend some time in nature. Whether you decide to go hiking in a nearby wooded area, take a walk through your neighborhood, or simply do some gardening in your backyard, green exercise is beneficial to both your physical and mental health.
When compared to exercising indoors, doing so outside gives you a deeper connection to the world. You become more aware of your impact on the people, animals, and nature around you and of their effects on your well-being. This heightened sense of self-awareness often results in reduced stress and increased self-esteem.
Spending Time Outside Might Also Improve Concentration
Not only can time spent in nature help improve your mood, it has also been linked to an increase in concentration. A 2008 study found that children with ADHD who spent time walking in a park had a better time concentrating afterward than they did after walking in a residential or business area.
While the study did not include adults (with or without ADHD), you may find that the calming effect of being surrounded by nature improves your concentration. Perhaps the next time you hit a mental block when trying to finish up a report or creative task, take a break and go outside. Take a walk, and make an intentional effort to notice the nature around you. When you return perhaps you will be able to focus more clearly on the work you need to complete.
Additional Health Benefits of Spending Time Outside
The Japanese have been reaping the benefits of spending time outdoors for years through a practice known as Shinrin Yoku or “Forest Bathing.” Those who follow this practice have experienced lower levels of anxiety and depression.
Other benefits of spending time outside are increased vitamin D and serotonin levels, a boost in social connections and self-esteem, and improved focus, sleep, weight control, and immune system. With all of these benefits to both your physical and mental health, be kind to yourself and make a commitment to spend more time outside.
Having Trouble Getting Outside?
Even though spending time outside clearly has many physical and mental health benefits, sometimes it’s difficult to do so. Whether your life seems too busy to make the time to get outdoors or you have a level of social anxiety that keeps you safely tucked away inside your home, we can help.
One of our experienced therapists would be happy to help you overcome the obstacles that stand in your way of getting outside and taking advantage of the health benefits of doing so. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today.