Feeling Stressed? Get Outside!

 

Think about the time you spend indoors versus the time spent outdoors. If you’re like most Americans, you probably spend much more time inside an artificial environment working, cleaning, caring for the household, in transit, watching TV, or surfing the Internet.

Now think back to when you were a kid. Chances are, you spent as much time as possible outside in the yard with neighborhood kids playing tag, kickball, catch, building sandcastles, or playing pretend. Things were a lot more fun then, huh? Taking on responsibility and facing stress may be a factor of growing up and being an adult, but one thing you can change is the amount of time you spend indoors.

Being outside has numerous health benefits. For one, many Americans lack vitamin D, a vitamin that helps prevent cancer, heart disease, and increase bone density. Sunlight also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which is often disorganized due to exposure to electronics and lighting. An erratic circadian rhythm disrupts sleep, which is essential for optimal health. Think of living by the sunlight as a sort of natural alarm clock.

The sounds of nature are known to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. If you live in an urban area, try to focus on the few natural sounds available, such as birds chirping, squirrels chattering, or wind blowing through trees.

Catching a breath of fresh air never fails to rejuvenate your senses, and it’s not just the physical act of removing yourself from a stressful situation that causes relief—it’s the actual air itself. Indoor air is often re-circulated and full of synthetic chemicals from building supplies and furniture. So not only are you cleansing yourself mentally when “taking a breath of fresh air,” but also physically.

When you’re outside, you’re likely to be moving, too. Even doing basic lawn maintenance, gardening, or walking counts as movement—getting your blood flowing generally makes for a healthier, less-stressed you.

It’s recommended that you spend, at the very minimum, 20 minutes outside everyday but the more, the better!