Everyone has struggled with their mental health in some capacity during COVID-19, acclimating to a new normal. At one point, getting outdoors seemed to be the only safe escape after being isolated in our homes for months. As a result, we strive to shine a light on mental health and work diligently to break the negative stigma. With the summer months ahead, we want to draw attention to the mental health benefits of spending time outdoors.
Why Being Outdoors Is Good for Your Mental Health
There are certain nutrients that we encounter outdoors that are great for our overall health and wellbeing. Getting outside also reduces stress, enhances cognitive function, improves overall mood, and fights anxiety and depression.
Studies show that spending 20-30 minutes outside can significantly reduce cortisol levels, which is a natural chemical that causes stress. Over half of Americans experience stress daily, but being outdoors relieves muscle tension to improve these symptoms.
Spending all your time indoors isn’t good for your health. There are elements of being outside that you can’t replicate inside, such as fresh air and direct sunlight. Natural sunlight contains Vitamin D, which can improve your mood and self-esteem. Research shows that being outdoors on a bright, sunny day leads to higher serotonin levels, regardless of whether it’s a hot or cold day.
Experiencing higher serotonin levels also helps to fight anxiety and depression because it acts as a natural mood stabilizer. Therefore, it reduces these symptoms. Sunlight also produces melanocytes, which is the cell that creates dark skin pigment. These cells release endorphins in your body, which give your mood a natural boost.
Studies show that transitioning to a green environment outdoors has improved mood and self-esteem and reduced depression symptoms in those struggling with mental illness. Exercising or taking part in other recreational activities regularly also plays a role in improving your overall mental health.
Recommended Time to Spend Outside
Research shows that getting outdoors for at least two hours every week leads to significant benefits to your overall health and wellbeing. Sometimes, doing this is easier said than done. You may have had a bad day at work or are extra tired from your busy schedule. However, you will find yourself feeling better if you allow the time to get outside.
Overall Health and Wellbeing
Everyone experiences stressors in their daily lives that can lead to mental fatigue. Spending time outside allows you to escape from work and your personal life to rest your mind. It can also help you practice mindfulness and be more present in the moment.
There are so many activities that you can do outside, such as taking a walk, going for a run, riding your bike, or gardening. Take as many opportunities this summer to get outdoors and reap the benefits of improving your overall mental health and wellbeing.
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