By in Health & Fitness

Guest Post: The Mental Benefits of Being Outdoors

In the unexpected era of social distancing and self-isolation, increased feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety are not hard to come by. Plus, dealing with depression is not easy.

Now that many are returning to essential work and indulging in safe, family-focused outdoor excursions, spending a few hours in nature may be something you can expect to see on your itinerary in the near future.

Immersing oneself in nature is healing, regenerative, and generally enjoyable for families of all walks of life. So if a trip to the lake or trek across the hills is something on your to-do list, here are a few mental health benefits that can turn your pandemic experience around.

Reduced Stress

Did you know that America is one of the most stressed countries in the world? 55% of your typical citizens report feeling stressed on a daily basis. Fortunately, spending prolonged periods outdoors can help reverse irritability and moodiness.

Hearing the rush of rivers or breathing in the fresh air can reduce cortisol levels, a chemical in the body directly correlated with stress.

Improved Mood

Some things cannot be replicated. Those include direct sunlight, the rustling of leaves from hundreds of forest pines, and the feeling of sand in between your toes—all of which help improve your mood.

These sensations are especially beneficial to children in their developmental stage, stimulating them mentally and physically.

Not to mention, on bright and sunny days, people tend to release more serotonin and endorphins, otherwise known as the body’s “feel-good chemical.”

Creates Opportunities to Re-Center

Depression and anxiety can have numerous detrimental effects on one’s daily life, such as an inability to focus. By spending a few hours outdoors in the quiet, you can improve your concentration and re-center your priorities.

Being with family in a novel space can even improve the way you communicate. Surrounded by nothing but nature and your loved ones, you can learn to become a better listener.

Lowers Chances of Developing Psychiatric Disorders

Not only does a green environment improve your mood and self-esteem, but it significantly lowers the chances of developing chronic psychiatric disorders. While some mental illnesses are genetic or caused by chemical imbalances, others are seasonal, especially in teenagers.

Taking your teen to learn how to fish , for instance, or go on a leisurely hike, can reduce depression symptoms. In addition, incorporating these activities into a regular ecotherapy regimen can supplement other medical treatments.

Enhances Well-Being

Dedicating family time to new experiences like surf fishing , kayaking, rock climbing, and camping provides unique opportunities to stay fit.

Jogging, for example, can reduce your blood pressure, which inadvertently reduces stress. The fitter the body, the fitter the mind, and the better your overall well-being is.

The Bottom Line

There is no right or wrong way to spend time outdoors, but coming up with a routine can help alleviate the adverse effects of the pandemic. Not to mention, you and your family might discover a new favorite way to bond.

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VinceSummers wrote on October 25, 2021, 1:04 PM

Well, I plead guilty. I almost totally remain indoors. Yesterday, I went out for a short drive with my wife. She goes out all the time. I was happy to get home. But I knew I needed to go outdoors. Sigh. Part of why I don't go out much is because I don't stand well and can't walk to even a greater degree.

MegL wrote on October 25, 2021, 2:40 PM

Outside is good. Even sitting in the garden can help. Glad to hear from you again VinceSummers

lookatdesktop wrote on October 31, 2021, 9:51 PM

I go outside just to sweep and rake. It helps. Today I had a visitor, I suggested, why not sit with me in the back yard, away from the traffic. So we sat and talked for almost 2 hours, while he and I enjoyed conversation and he smoked on a cigar and basically I was glad we both had a bit of time away from just being in the house. Tomorrow, Maybe, if the weather permits, I can take my wife for a drive, just so she can get out a little because the weather could get colder and more rain is coming.

MegL wrote on November 2, 2021, 4:40 PM

Sitting in the yard or garden is very relaxing.