In 2020, the term “social distancing” has become a household mantra. Staying six feet apart and avoiding large gatherings has become the focal point of staying safe and healthy during this pandemic. Unfortunately, social distancing is also a phrase that causes many to curl their lips into a snarl.
Thankfully, outside is a place where social distancing comes more naturally – and has some amazing benefits to your physical and mental health!
- Vitamin D
Bring on the Vitamin D! We get vitamin D naturally from sunlight and it has some amazing health benefits of its own. Vitamin D reduces inflammation, and helps keep your bones and muscles healthy! Just 15 minutes of sunshine a day will give you some of that vitamin D!
In fact, the sun is the best way to get it, since it’s difficult to get enough from our daily food sources alone.
- Slowing Down
Nature moves at its own pace. Things happen when they happen in nature. Humans, on the other hand, lead busy lives where we are constantly moving from one thing to the next. Being outside in nature slows us down. It allows us to notice things and pay attention to certain things around us, and let go of some of the other things that clutter our lives and our minds.
There’s no rush in nature, and being outside helps us humans follow suit. Ever have racing thoughts or just way too much on your mind? Getting outside has a way of slowing the pace and bringing your mind back to nature’s slower more relaxed pace.
- Boost Your Mood
Research studies show that sunny days are associated with improved mood! Dark and gloomy days are linked to more emotional distress.
The sun boosts serotonin levels in your brain, which are the “feel good” hormones which is beneficial to everyone, but especially people who are struggling with anxiety and depression.
A boost in serotonin has benefits galore! Improved mood, better quality sleep, and less stress, to name a few!
- Lower Your Stress
Spending time in nature is one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety and stress. Being in the outdoors helps lift your mood, recharge your mind, and relax your nerves.
Ruminating is common in depression, anxiety, and high stress.
Interacting with nature also shows therapeutic benefits. Listening to calming nature sounds can lower blood pressure and cortisol – the hormone responsible for stress. It didn’t matter if the sounds were outside in nature or listening to nature sounds indoors.
Looking at nature, trees, landscape, etc. helps give something pleasant to focus on, which can distract the mind from negative thinking, and reduce worry.
- Lower Blood Pressure
Did you know that spending time outside can actually lower your blood pressure? It’s true! According to researchers, sunlight on your skin causes blood vessels to widen due to a reaction between nitric oxide and the sun. What that means is when blood vessels widen, blood pressure lowers! Really! It’s science!
Lowering blood pressure, especially for those who have high blood pressure, also lowers the risk of dangers such as heart attack and stroke.
- Boost Your Immune System
With all that’s gone on this year among the COVID-19 pandemic, who doesn’t want a little extra immunity these days?
Being in nature (especially in an area like a forest) puts us in a relaxed, slowed-down state. Outside in nature, the world seems to stop spinning – or at least slow down. We are disconnected from technology (mostly) and the natural rhythm of nature around us takes over and more of our energy can go toward our health and well-being. In other words, when we are relaxed and happy, our immune system gets a boost!
How much time outside do you need?
Not as much as you think! According to science, increased health and well-being are reported when people spend about 120 minutes (2 hours) or more outside each week. Those 120 minutes don’t necessarily have to be spread equally throughout the week! Research showed that it didn’t matter if some days had more time spent outdoors than others.
Does your hectic schedule seem to get in the way of how much time you would like to spend outside? It’s OK! Schedule time outside for the days and times most convenient for you.
During your time outside, be prepared by knowing where you will go, stay hydrated and remember to wear sunscreen!
While it’s true there are seemingly endless benefits the outdoors has for your mental and physical health, it’s not always enough! Finding yourself unable to manage stress and anxiety can happen to anyone.
Seek the help of a therapist who can help you integrate time outdoors with therapy to experience maximum benefits. Combining nature and therapy can be a very powerful way to create lasting transformation and healing.
Redeemed Life is here to help! Connect with us today! We have therapists who are highly skilled in helping people manage their stress, anxiety, and depression!
Call us today to schedule an appointment.
940-222-8552 or email [email protected]
Teen Social Anxiety