As technology continues to improve across the world, people are often opting to stay inside rather than venture into the great outdoors. This is unfortunately true not only in the winter but also in the spring, summer, and fall months when the weather can be favorable. Despite the advantages that technology has given us, this is a disturbing trend and we should look to curb our desires to stay indoors. There are many opportunities to be found outdoors, including increasing your physical activity level, connecting with yourself and nature, and improving your overall mental and physical health. Here are some ways that being outside can greatly improve your life.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
If you’ve ever stepped outside from work for a breath of fresh air or simply admired the stars at night, you’ve probably noticed a distinctly relaxing effect on your body. You may not think much of it, but there is actually scientific evidence that being outside can help to significantly reduce your stress levels.
One study sent people into a forest for two nights. When they came out, their levels of cortisol – the hormone associated with stress – were markedly lower than when they went in. These levels were also compared to people who spent time in the city. Unsurprisingly, the subjects who were out in nature had significantly lower cortisol levels and heart rates.
Even within an office, studies have shown that windows with a view of nature can greatly reduce stress and anxiety and lead to higher job satisfaction. If just the view is enough to affect you in such a positive way, imagine what a multi-day stay in the great outdoors can do for your mental and physical well-being!
Treat Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are serious health problems that have affected millions of people across the world for years. With our more sedentary, indoor lifestyles, we are seeing more and more cases of these sometimes-crippling disorders. While there are many steps to take in order to fight depression, research has shown that spending outside can provide an immense boost in our mood and help us cope with the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Some doctors have even suggested that patients should go on regular walks outdoors to help alleviate symptoms of depression. Participating in physical activity and allowing ourselves to get oxygen and clear our minds can be an extremely positive experience for those who have been struggling with these disorders. Nature can encourage positive emotions and thoughts, helping to push negative thoughts out and allowing people to focus on the good parts of life.
Inflammation can lead to a multitude of problems, including aches and pains, stomach problems, and headaches, among others. It is never pleasant to experience any of these, but new studies have shown that we can reduce inflammation by simply spending the right amount of time outside! This is a great way to get rid of the aches and pains before they even start.
It could be connected to the reduced stress levels, allowing our body to harness more energy and let our immune system take care of itself. Stress is known to lead to physical ailments and lowering those levels may also be linked to reduced risk of inflammation. Researchers noted that people who spent a long weekend in the forest had lower levels of hypertension after they came out. Hypertension has also been linked to inflammation, so it seems that there is a strong correlation.
If you’ve ever spent hours upon hours in an office staring at a computer, you are probably familiar with the feeling of being entirely unable to concentrate. After a while, your mind simply shuts down and your body gets tired, even if you’ve barely been moving. This is because we were not meant to sit inside in unnatural light for extended periods of time. It is only natural that our body and mind reject these forced habits.
Studies have shown that people who take a break to go for a walk outside generally come back more refreshed with a better ability to focus. This is true even for those who simply walked through the city in which they work. However, those who went out into nature came back with an even higher level of focus. So, going outside is great for you in either way, but you will benefit even further by spending time in nature.
These studies have been expanded to children with ADHD. Researchers say that just 30 minutes in a park greatly increased the ability of the children to focus when they went back to studying. This is a far healthier and more natural way to deal with ADHD symptoms than simply prescribing pills or other drugs.
People who spend time in nature tend to show more creative instincts, research shows. Nature has the ability to inspire awe in us, and that can bring out some of our most creative thoughts and desires. In addition to this, we may benefit from nature because it often forces us to step away from technology and let our minds do the work rather than our cell phones or computers.
If we let ourselves sit in nature and appreciate what is around us, we may become more in touch with ourselves and our surroundings. This will allow us to make connections that we may not have made before, leading to more creative endeavors and perhaps even putting us on a life-changing route.
Better Physical Health
All of the positive mental benefits of being outside are directly correlated with a vastly improved immune system, resistance to cancer, and generally being in better shape. Time spent outside is almost always more physically demanding and entertaining than anything we do inside, and our bodies need that in order to remain strong and healthy. The more we go outside, the more likely we are to partake in activities that help us rather than hurt us. Nature is truly something that beckons to us and helps us become better people, both physically and mentally.