Life has a way of sneaking up on us. Work, friends, family, weekend obligations, chores, playdates—between them all, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, which can lead to stress. Instead of letting anxiety get the best of you, trying stepping outside. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can not only help reduce and relieve stress, but also decrease depression and improve memory function.
With just a little bit of outdoor exposure, you can be on your way to feeling healthier, happier, and overall in a much better mindset. Take a look at some of the ways fresh air, sunshine, and a little bit of nature can help you stay calm, clear, and focused.
Say Goodbye to Negative Thoughts
A recent study showed that people who spent at least 90 minutes outdoors—walking, jogging, running—experienced less repetitive negative emotions. These thoughts and feelings often become a continuous cycle that acts on a loop, making positive interactions more difficult to produce. However, with just an hour and a half of outdoor time daily, these negative patterns have been shown to decrease, taking stress, anxiety, and depression down with them.
Relieve Blood Pressure
Being outdoors helps keep the mind at ease, but it also can help you feel better psychically. In fact, just hearing sounds of nature or sitting outdoors in silence can lower blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol, which releases the body’s natural fight-or-flight response. Additionally, spending time outside can help reduce inflammation, which is the body’s natural reaction to injury or illness, like the flu. However, when inflammation goes into overdrive, it can react negatively, causing depression, inflammatory diseases, and even cancer. A walk through the woods or even a picnic outdoors can help reduce unhealthy levels on inflammation and give your body a better balance.
Boost Your Memory
Do you find yourself forgetting your keys? Not sure if you locked the door this morning? Can’t recall what you walked upstairs to get? Short-term memory can be a fickle thing, but studies have shown the more time spent outdoors, the better your memory can be. According to one study conducted on University of Michigan students, those who walked outside in urban settings didn’t experience the same memory-boosting effects as those who were surrounded by trees and wildlife. So, when you can, try to get out to a local park, nature preserve, or wooded trail.
Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one powerful substance. It can help prevent cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders—just to name a few, and one of the easiest ways to get it is to spend time in the sun. Plus, getting vitamin D naturally is a safer, more effective form than most vitamin supplements.
With even the smallest efforts, you can improve your mental and physical health by just getting out of the house. But if you venture into state parks, trails, or recreational areas that you don’t know well, bring a map, charge your cell phone, and be sure to follow all signs and regulations. Be safe out there and enjoy the effects of the great outdoors!