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Five Ways in which Going Outdoors Improves Mental Health

— March 13, 2019

Stress is practically unavoidable these days, and it takes a toll on our mental health. Getting outdoors is a simple way to de-stress.

In the modern world, a typical day is usually spent in front of computers, artificial lights, and television or phone screens. The importance of spending time outdoors is very often neglected, as there’s always something “more fun” that can be done indoors. However, there are many mental health benefits of spending time outside. So, if you’re looking for a reason to go for a relaxing walk, here are five you should know about.

It can improve your short-term memory

Studies have shown that going for a walk in nature could improve your short-term memory. So, for example, you’d be less likely to forget your keys or phone. Moreover, if you’re still in college, spending time in nature could help you take better notes. However, keep in mind that nature plays an important role, as the research showed that there were no significant changes in people who went for a walk in an urban environment. After all, urban settings are filled with traffic, lights, noise, and other people, all of which can draw your attention. So, it’s the kind of scenery that can help you focus, clear your mind, and recall important details.

It can help you relieve stress

Nowadays, stress has become something almost inevitable, and it’s safe to say that we all feel it to some extent. Moreover, we are all looking for a way to relieve it, and spending time outside is a great way to de-stress and unwind after a long day at work. Also, you probably already know that too much stress can lead to many other, more serious issues, like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. Needless to say, it should be taken seriously. So, if you have a natural stress-reliever available for free, why not make use of it? Go on a camping trip, organize picnics with your family, or spend a weekend in the countryside. You’re bound to feel much better after one of such trips, which is why you should take every opportunity you get to spend some time away from the busy city life.

Woman in seated meditation in the water at a lakeshore; image by Audrey Hope, via
Woman in seated meditation in the water at a lakeshore; image by Audrey Hope, via

It can sharpen your focus

Research has shown that exposure to nature can improve your focus. Plus, this benefits not only adults but also kids with attention deficits. Even a simple walk in the park can improve kids’ focus. Moreover, if you work in an office with a view, looking through the window during your breaks could boost your productivity levels. Also, spending long periods of time in the woods or some other “wilder” environment has shown to significantly boost one’s creativity and problem-solving skills. So, it might not be a bad idea to take a short camping or hiking trip before your next big project or exam.

It can help kids develop

Speaking of children, spending time outdoors can do wonders for their learning ability and social skills. More and more children today spend time in front of screens, watching cartoons or playing games. However, there isn’t any social interaction in that kind of entertainment. Plus, it’s all passive material, and kids learn more from actual examples than pictures on the screen. On the other hand, spending time outdoors, with other kids, can improve both their social skills and their focus. It can also help them sleep better after spending all that energy actually playing. Asian countries, for example, put a lot of emphasis on outdoor children learning activities, and the kids seem to enjoy them. So, if there is an education center in your city that incorporates time in nature into the curriculum, sign your child up.

It can improve your mindfulness

Immersing yourself in nature without any electronic distractions can make you more aware of everything that is happening around you. Exploring nature engages all your senses and helps you focus on what’s happening at that moment instead of worrying about the past or stressing about your future plans. In other words, being present in the moment is a great way to calm your mind. So, when you do find yourself in nature, pay attention to the sounds, textures, colors, and scents.

No matter how busy you are, you should always find some time to enjoy nature. Even if it only happens once a week, it would still benefit you in more ways than one. Therefore, don’t neglect your mental health, and spend time outside whenever you can.

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