How spending time outdoors can positively impact your mood and mental health
With spring right around the corner, any glimpse of sun can have you ready to jump in your shorts to enjoy time outside. There’s nothing quite like that first 60 degree soaking in the fresh, warm air. For so many of us, our moods seem to instantly increase. In fact, science has shown that people tend to experience increased symptoms of anxiety and depression in the winter months, some of which can be attributed to our lack of time spent outdoors or in sunlight. Spending time outdoors can have significant benefits to mental health, whether winter, spring, summer, or fall. We’re diving into the benefits of being outdoors on mental health and how you can benefit from a few minutes outside.
How being outside impacts your body
The symptoms associated with anxiety, stress, and depression are associated to actual chemical and physical reactions happening in our bodies. Spending time outside lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels – a hormone often used as a market for stress. When coupled with exercise, the impacts are even higher. A Japanese study showed a walk outdoors lowered average pulse by almost 4% and blood pressure by just over 2%. Don’t have time to go outdoors in the middle of the day? Studies have even shown that people who work near a window experience lower stress and higher job satisfaction than those who don’t have any exposure to nature. Whether you’re near a window or able to sneak a few minutes outside, doing so will effectively lower stress and relieve anxiety.
Outside of stress and anxiety reduction, there are other incredible benefits to reap from time spent outdoors. Being in nature has plenty of restorative properties for the mind and soul as well. Many studies have shown being in nature greatly improves focus, attention, and actually increases energy. One study from University of Michigan showed participants exposed to the outdoors performed 20% better on a memory test than students who remained indoors. Additionally, time outdoors can have a direct impact on creativity, allowing thoughts to run more freely and openly. Finding yourself having a midday mental block? Try spending a few minutes outdoors, you may realize your creative juices are flowing more than before. Finally, which may go without saying, even a few minutes in nature can be an immediate mood booster.
The next time you’re feeling winter blues or a midday slump, consider taking a quick moment outside. Getting in the habit of spending time outdoors will have direct effects on your body physically and mentally. We look forward to hearing the difference you notice!