Your walk outside is good for you in more ways than one. It isn’t just beneficial to your physical health; you’re also unknowingly improving your mental wellbeing. But how exactly are outdoor activities good for you? Let’s take a look at how the outdoors affects your body, soul, and mind.
A 2017 study has shown that getting into physical activities is excellent for your mental health. Researchers discovered that anxiety levels are significantly lower in people who are more physically active. Nancy M. Wells, PhD, wrote that “there really may be a connection between kids’ experiences in nature and their later life attitudes and behaviors.”
One possible explanation for such results is that our physical health is also linked to our mental health. Physical activity helps in maintaining healthy levels of hormones and chemicals in our body, such as endorphins. Endorphins prompt a positive feeling as it decreases our perception of pain.
It’s time to stock up on vitamin D. No need to spend on expensive vitamin supplements; sunlight helps your body naturally create and activate vitamin D. Most of the vitamin D we get comes from exposure to sunlight.
Again, this isn’t just for your physical health. Vitamin D helps in battling depression. In fact, lower light levels can lead to the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder. This disorder is a form of depression caused by the changes in the season. The symptoms are similar to that of depression such as sadness, lack of energy, and moodiness.
For many people, a walk outside is what they need after a stressful situation. It could be a big fight with your partner, your boss scolding you at work, or learning of bad news in the family. For some reason, going for a walk outdoors calms us down. Kate Hays, PhD, wrote that it may have something to do “with some kind of distraction element that allows the mind to become clearer.”
One reason for this is that being outdoors helps in reducing the level of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone found in the body. Your body releases this in response to distressing situations. Being outside can naturally help in reducing cortisol levels.
Self-Reliance And Confidence
Another way that outdoor activities help with your mental health is by increasing your self-reliance and self-confidence. How exactly does it do that? When you’re participating in outdoor activities, you don’t get the same help you usually do from computers and gadgets.
Take camping as an example. You’re left to use your creativity and intelligence to survive.
In the outdoors, you learn to push yourself. It serves as a challenge for you to prove to yourself that you are reliable and independent. Going outdoors thus forces you to develop better self-confidence.
The same holds true even if you’re partaking in outdoor group activities. In the outdoors, you learn to communicate better and work as a team. Going outdoor also boosts your self-esteem and image.
It’s true that we sometimes forget how big the world is and how significant we really are. After all, when you’re trying to juggle school, work, and your personal life, it’s hard to see how we all fit into the scheme of the world.
You gain a different perspective when you spend time outdoors. With nature, you forget about the distractions in life. For a moment, you don’t have to worry about your family asking you when you’ll get married; about your boss asking you to meet targets; and you trying to find greater purpose in life.
Instead, you get to think about other things such as how beautiful nature is. You get to see first-hand how nature interacts with itself; how it’s able to function on its own even without us humans. It really can put things into perspective.
Douglas LaBier, PhD, wrote, “Virtually any form of immersion in the natural world, outside of your internal world, heightens your overall well-being and well as more positive engagement with the larger human community.”
Some of us may not like spending time outside, but it evidently does much good for us. It’s about taking that first step outside our house and embracing the outside as a positive influence in our lives. Even just a few minutes outside can leave a lasting effect for the rest of the day.
Take a break from your busy schedule and get outside. Not only will your body thank you, but also your mental health.