There is nothing better than spending a morning or an afternoon immersed in nature. From birds tweeting light-heartedly in their nests to ducklings splashing about in a large pond, you are bound to experience something truly special. If the temperatures allow it, you may even go for a paddle in a small, pristine lake with your dog, partner, kids, or even by yourself. What is there not to love?
Alongside providing both memorable moments and the perfect backdrop for social media pictures, spending time outdoors has many other advantages. In fact, it has immediate positive effects on your physical and mental well-being. It is safe to say that “an hour outdoors a day keeps the doctor away”.
With this in mind, we explore a range of benefits that come with spending precious time outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air.
Reduces stress levels
You have a lot on your plate. Whether it is household duties or pressing work commitments, life can sometimes be busier than you would like it to be.
Strolling through your local meadows or woods will do you the world of good. In fact, spending time outdoors can reduce your stress levels significantly. Time in the fresh air will help you decrease levels of cortisol, a hormone in your body that is triggered by stress.
Moreover, being in an inspiring, natural setting can release tension and stimulate your imagination.
Boosts your mood and makes you smile
Natural light tends to elevate people’s mood and well-being. Not only can it cheer you up, but some physical exercise in a natural environment can truly boost your self-esteem too.
If you are feeling under the weather, a short staycation close to fields and beautiful green spots will revitalise you. You could lodge in a historic castle hotel and enjoy a weekend exploring its surrounding parks and grounds. You will smile, laugh, and be back to your usual cheerful self!
Sometimes, the brain will just not cooperate. You may be trying to memorise figures and facts to inform colleagues at work about a specific task. You may be reading a book for your own leisure and finding it difficult to keep focused on the story. Whatever the scenario, leaving the house and going for a relaxing stroll will repower your brain cells.
Evidence shows that spending time outdoors can enhance memory functions. Specifically, a study by the University of Michigan reveals that a walk in the park can improve both your memory and attention span.
Helps tackle anxiety and depression
Another significant advantage of being outdoors is that it can help fight anxiety and depression. From soaking up some all-important natural light to feeling the grass under your feet, nature offers many opportunities to relieve mild depression symptoms.
In fact, those who spend time in nature tend to show less neural activity in the area of the brain generally associated with anxiety and depression.
Strolling through the meadows and admiring its wildlife makes you happy and settles you down. But does a challenging outdoor trip have a positive impact on your well-being too? The answer is yes.
Hiking to the top of steep hills, riding your bicycle for hours on end, or trying climbing for the first time are all great activities for your body. They are indeed more demanding than a casual walk in the park; however, the sense of achievement will truly skyrocket your confidence.
Fixes your sleep pattern
Is falling asleep at night a struggle? Would you like to doze off as soon as your head hits the pillow? Get yourself outdoors during the day and restore a natural sleep pattern at night.
Too much artificial light and too many hours indoors can unsettle your internal body clock. Instead, spending time in nature and exposing yourself to sunlight can fix your circadian rhythm.
Provides an increase in vitamin D
Vitamin D is a hormone that is key to a significant array of health benefits. It helps prevent a number of serious health problems, including heart diseases, dementia, diabetes, and even cancer. Sunlight is possibly the best source of vitamin D, which means that spending time in the sunshine is the perfect way to truly maximise your well-being.
When the sun is out, get your walking shoes on and soak up as much light as you can!
Protects your eyesight
It is fair to say that nowadays we spend endless hours in front of laptops, smartphones, televisions, and many other digital screens. They may be providing entertainment or helping to carry out your job, but they are certainly not doing your eye health any favours.
One of the most worrying risks to your eyesight is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which may cause dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and neck pain. The best way to reduce these symptoms is to ditch tech screens for a while and venture outdoors. Free from bright, artificial light, you will give your eyes a well-deserved rest and reduce the chance of developing near-sightedness too.
Ultimately, spending time outdoors is great for the body, the mind, and the soul. Whether you are climbing a mountain, dipping in a stream, or going for a casual stroll, you are making wonderful memories and truly nurturing your physical and mental well-being.
Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash