Get Outside– Nature x Health Benefits

Are you making time to be outside? I know that may sound a bit bold during these times but it really is important. I’m not talking about running errands, essential work, or non-essential activities (minding my business, but be safe out here). I’m referring to time outdoors spent in nature, studies show this can improve our overall wellbeing. With social distancing and quarantine, options are limited, but not eliminated. Like many of us, this year has caused me to become hyper-aware of my health: physically, mentally, emotionally. One of my favorite additions to my everyday life has been making more time to be immersed in nature. 

In my last piece I spoke about keeping our immune systems high and honestly, spending time outside could aid in that as well (safely ofc)! Spending time in nature is proven to help reduce stress-related hormones, improve mood, increase vitamin D absorption, and overall heal. Natural light, fresh air, stillness, thriving ecosystems, and life all contribute to these benefits. 

Getting up and out in the morning is my personal favorite for spending time in nature because it feels extra peaceful and I can still get back home early. Usually only a few people are up, mainly just animal sounds and vibes. I enjoy it!

Most of our senses will be stimulated when we take the time to get out there. There’s something about hearing birds chirp, wind whistling, or water rippling. The sight of plants growing, trees aging, the sun shining, clouds passing, and animals being in communion is a reminder that life is beautiful. The smell of flowers, someone’s cooking, or even freshly cut grass keeps us present. It’s the little things. 

It can be really grounding to have a few quiet moments alone. It feels good to just be present, to look and realize how small we are in comparison to the world around us. It can truly be a refreshing experience if we’re open to it.

Taking time to enjoy beautiful natural scenery is a privilege not everyone has. Being outdoors can look and feel different for everyone. Some folks live in the city, others in the suburbs, and others in the country.  However, anyone can make a way to enjoy some time outside! Although my ideas of time outdoors are based on where I live, indulge in what’s accessible to you! Here are a few different ways I like to spend time in nature:

Hiking 

Trails, wooded areas, forests, hills, mountains. I love it. Not only can it serve as a workout, you truly immerse yourself in the elements while hiking. It helps with mindfulness by keeping us present on our steps and everything around us. 

Walks 

Taking a stroll around your block, to a store, or just exploring the neighborhood are perfect ways to enjoy fresh air. Walking can help with thinking clearly and improve memory. 

Beach Day 

Ugh, my favorite. It’s the ocean for me! Honestly, there’s something powerful about connecting with bodies of water. Laying out on the sand, reading a book, getting in the water, tanning, etc. Perfect way to unplug and just enjoy. 

A Seat on the Porch/Balcony 

Stoop kids wya? If you have a porch or balcony, get out there! Our grandparents and older relatives were already hip when they would sit out there and relax watching the neighborhood. This is more low exertion, which can be ideal if you prefer staying closer to home. 

Stargazing 

If theres stars where you live or close enough to travel to—do it! You might lay out on a blanket late at night and be in awe of the stars in the sky or even stand outside and watch the sky. The beauty of the universe is moving. Make time to take it in. 

Whichever you decide, get to it! It’s essential. I’m a believer that we have to connect back to the elements and the nature around us. There’s a restoration in unplugging and being outdoors. If you can do so safely, enjoy yourself. It’s good for your health. Take care. 

Resources:

https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health

https://selecthealth.org/blog/2019/07/10-reasons-why-being-in-nature-is-good-for-you

https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

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