Five ways we bet you didn’t know, how getting out into the great outdoors can improve your mental health. By Lydia Neave
Nothing better than that blissful feeling of the sunlight on your cheeks and the wind in your hair. Spending time outside can improve how well you concentrate; it restores your focus so that you can put your mind to the tasks at hand. The mental health benefits will stay with you when you return to your work or your routine indoors. During these days of working from home, how about taking 20 minutes to stretch your legs outside at lunchtime?
Being out and about, catching those rays, gives your body vital vitamin D, which is necessary for the absorption of calcium and the prevention of osteoporosis. It also elevates your mood! Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder in which people can show signs of depression, most commonly in winter. Feeling down? Get some fresh air in nature and you might just feel better. Natural sunlight can also help to reduce pain. Scientists report that surgery patients require less pain killers when enjoying outdoor sunshine than they would if they stayed indoors. Even in the winter, the sun’s rays can be beneficial – what are you waiting for?
Spending time outside has also been proven to help those who have trouble sleeping. Exercising in the fresh air is known to make you sleepier at night time. If you know you have an important day tomorrow, which requires focus and a full night sleep, take a walk outside today! At the end of your working day, what better than a short stroll to mark the end of work, and the start of a more restful part of your day.
Anxiety can hit anyone at any point in their life, and we all know there’s nothing worse than the crippling feeling of unease or worry. Being outdoors is proven to reduce these feelings. A study led by The University of Queensland shows that people who spend 30 minutes or more immersed in nature each week are much less likely to have high blood pressure caused by stress or anxiety. Connection with nature is especially beneficial. You can read some of the science behind it here. We are delighted to offer Natural Mindfulness Walks, which offer an ideal way to connect with nature – there is more information about them here.
Nature can do wonderful things, and it doesn’t stop with increasing our attention, raising our mood, improving our sleep or relieving our anxiety. It can also boost our creativity. People who spend a lot of time outside are known to score at least 50% higher on creativity tests. Can’t get started on that essay, that spreadsheet, that project? Don’t worry! Throw on a jumper and go outside!
For more information about how time outside can benefit your health, there is a useful blog here.