How does being outside help you? When we’re cooped up inside for a long period of time, our world becomes diminished and our outlook and perspective on life changes. In other words, our world becomes insular and small. So today, no matter what the weather is outside, I hope that I can convince you to go outside and take in much-needed oxygen and exercise for vitality, and longevity.
1. How does being outside give us natural Aromatherapy?
Science tells us that we have the ability to smell over one trillion scents! Our noses transmit scent to the brain which in turn causes an emotional reaction in us.
People have been harvesting plants and creating different smelling oils to aid healing for hundreds of years. Plants are medicine and we have a sense of healing and wellbeing when we inhale something from nature. Aromatherapy encourages rest and relaxation. What happens when you stand in the middle of a pine forest and take a deep breath? How does it make you feel?
Going outside is free! Smell the flowers, smell freshly mowed grass, breathe in the salty smell of ocean spray, and let it give you a sense of peace and contentedness.
Once my husband and I went away for the weekend and stayed in a place that offered a tiny cubicle of a shower inside the cabin or a 50-foot walk along a boardwalk to an open forest shower just above a stream. This was downright the best shower I have ever had! It gave me a sense of freedom, I was hugged by nature, smelling the aroma of a thousand plants, hearing the cold river while I was standing lavished in hot water. It was aromatherapy at its best.
And whatever you do, leave technology behind! Focus on taste, smell, sight, sound, and touch without your phone. Don’t even take pictures, just enjoy the moment.
2. How does being outdoors relieve stress?
Have you ever stayed inside for an entire day? I think we can all nod yes to this one. Dealing with the effects of Covid-19 has caused most of us to spend days and sometimes weeks inside. The whole world has a desperate need to breathe fresh air, without a mask for a length of time every day.
So many people have succumbed to anxiety and depression over this time, so my hope is that YOU see hope by reading this article, if you happen to be in this space.
What’s the first thing you do when you walk in nature? You take a deep breath, you feel a sense of freedom, and you are able to come out from under pressure and deadlines. Being in nature and taking it all in with our five senses, gives us a sense of gratefulness that distracts us from our stress, which is healing.
3. How does being outside improve your Vision?
Watching too much TV, working on a computer, or iPad really does affect your eyes! It is scientifically proven to cause a shortsightedness called Myopia. Being exposed to the sun reduces the development of Myopia by releasing dopamine (eye growth regulator) into our bodies through the retina.
But screen time is not the only culprit, it includes too much homework after school for kids as well as crafts and working with fine detail. This all adds to our failing eyesight, this means that it is not only great to spend time outdoors but absolutely imperative!
4. How does being outside help your mental health?
Happiness reigns when stress is decreased. When we go outside, we’re immediately immersed in color and light and our senses come alive. In studying the psychology of color, we learn that we’re affected emotionally by different colors.
The color green (leaves, bodies of water) is believed to help us feel hopeful, revived, and energized. Look up at the sky, blue fills us with peace and tranquility. Brown (sand, pathways, tree trunks) is resilience, white (snow) is minimalist … simplicity. How can we not be positively affected by nature?
Imagine what color can do for us in the Autumn months! There is nothing like being positively affected by every shade of orange, red, and yellow.
5. How does being outdoors help you focus?
A few years ago, as a music teacher in a private boys’ school, I used to teach entire classes in music appreciation. I LOVED teaching boys! They are noisy and full of energy, but they would do anything I asked them to do in the name of fun. We would do lots of drumming and beating things and when things got a little serious, I’d send them on a quick obstacle course on the school grounds. Hop to that tree, turn in a circle when you get to that stone, walk in slow motion from that building, run on the spot in 4/4 timing. By the time they returned, they were ready to keep going and too tired to play up.
Nature helps us to focus. It gives us renewed energy, feelings of happiness and increases our attention span.
6. How much time should we spend in the sun to get enough Vitamin D?
We need 10 – 30 minutes of midday sun a few times a week to get enough Vitamin D in our bodies. It helps our bodies absorb calcium which encourages strong bones. Vitamin D also helps to alleviate depression symptoms, promotes sleep, and supports our immune system. In a nutshell, our bodies need vitamin D and the sun provides it in spades.
7. Why does going outdoors increase your energy levels?
It’s all connected. Being outside helps to increase the levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a (happy) hormone that helps to stabilize our moods. When we have enough serotonin in our bodies, we feel good and when we feel good, we are energized.
8. Why does being outdoors increase our creativity?
It comes as no surprise that increased technology has had a profound effect on our creativity levels. How often do you hear children say: “I’m bored”? Even adults have learned to fill downtime with downloaded games that help us to “switch off” for a while. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors without technology not only increases our creativity but helps us to problem-solve.
As an example: Teaching and helping a child to build a fort shows them more than how to put it together. They need to problem-solve. Why is it falling over that side, what can I pull it up with, how should I place the structure? These are all problem-solving questions for future engineers and imaginative thinking.
When we spend time outdoors, even just walking in nature, we become innovative thinkers. We invent things, we begin to dream, we allow our imaginations to run wild with what could be. We dream about what we really want and then we keep coming back inside and hitting reality dead on. Prolonged time indoors gets us stuck in a rut that is difficult to come out of.
How Much Time Should We Be Spending Outdoors?
After much research, scientists believe that we only need to consistently spend 2 hours per week outdoors to make physical and mental wellbeing changes. When we get out of the city and go into nature for just 30 minutes a week, researchers discovered decreases in blood pressure and stress cortisol (According to an article by Lydia Denworth on Psychology Today).
Plan Outdoor Time
Some time ago, I learned from a friend, that if you don’t plan time away on vacation, you don’t go away on vacation. So take out those diaries and plan outdoor time every week as well as vacation time every year.
I’ve never heard anyone say at the end of their lives “I wish I’d worked more”. Unfortunately, many regret not LIVING more! So, get up and go, change your lifestyle one outside moment at a time.