How Escaping to the Outdoors is Beneficial for Mental Health: by Amy Sloane

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(image: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15tymBGUxaR6XX6ThQU5dDzwgGuLBQvey/view)

 

There are so many people who suffer from debilitating mental disorders. Sometimes, people don’t recognise it. Often, people know something is off, but the mind is so powerful, it can convince a person that they’re totally fine. 

In many cases, it takes a person hitting rock-bottom before they recognise that they need real help. Thankfully there are ways to keep yourself as well as possible.

Consider some of the ways of escaping the outdoors can be extremely beneficial for your mental health.

 

1. Unplugging from Regular Life

The hustle and bustle of regular life can be very taxing on the mind. Between taking care of the children, making sure your spouse is okay, and holding down a well-paying job, you can lose yourself. Then, when you add exercise, adequate rest, and healthy eating to the equation, it can all become so overwhelming. Don’t even mention friendships. So many adults suffer from a lack of true friendships.

Thankfully, you can enjoy great food, wonderful friendships, and memories when you intentionally escape to the outdoors. Call a few friends to see if they’d be interested in going on a camping trip with you. When you all can get away to reset your minds, reconnect with one another and enjoy the fresh air, you can kill a few birds with one stone. 

Plus, vacations are necessary for mental health. When you take time for a quick sabbatical, studies show that you’ll increase your chances of showing up in a healthier way when it’s time to get back to regular life.

 

2. Solitude in Nature

There are countless benefits to being outside in nature. This is why camping in Utah in USA is an excellent idea. You’ll get to fall asleep under the stars, and you’ll experience true solitude. Nature is proven to help improve your overall mood. It helps you decrease any anxious feelings. 

Think about a time when you were really angry and needed to go for a walk to cool down, you’re probably not walking on a treadmill to calm down. An outdoor walk is helpful mainly because of the fresh air and the calming feeling of being in the open.

As you escape into solitude, you’ll become more attracted to activities that allow you to be outside. Whether this means that you schedule a camping trip once a quarter or you shoot hoops at the local basketball court, the feeling of being outside is unmatched. Plus, when you’re able to get outside and get active, you’ll release endorphins. 

Endorphins are really instrumental in boosting a person’s mood. They’re also helpful in boosting a person’s overall feelings of self-esteem and confidence.

 

3. Overstimulation

There are so many factors that come into play when you’re overstimulated. However, it’s a good idea to focus on the main culprit: smartphones. While smartphones can be amazing pieces of technology, they’re also the outlets that allow you to constantly check your email messages, respond to text messages, and scroll through social media. Even when you don’t need an update on what the President’s latest moves are, you’re getting alerts from the major news outlets.

While smartphones provide a tremendous amount of access, they can also provide a ton of overstimulation. When you’re visiting a campground, you’ll still get a signal from your mobile carrier. 

However, don’t be surprised if the signal isn’t as strong as it would be if you were at home. Knowing this, you have an excuse to pull away from all of the messages and instant responses people expect from you. Escaping to nature gives you an opportunity to put away your tech-savvy devices, put a ‘do not disturb’ message on your systems, and unplug.

As you find ways to intentionally take care of your mental health, remember that it’s not in vain. As you prioritize self-care, you’ll feel better and stronger. When nothing is wrong, it’s easy to assume that you’re completely invincible. Unfortunately, you’re not. Life chips away at you when you don’t check in with yourself. 

Even if you’re not always able to get to a campground, a simple walk around the neighborhood can help you clear your mind and get some fresh air. By escaping to the outdoors and prioritizing self-care, you can play a major role in keeping yourself sane.

 

This guest blog was written by writer Amy Sloane.

 

 

5 Ways that Spending More Time Outdoors Can Improve Your Mental Health: Guest post by Katherine Myers

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(image: Shutterstock)

Self-care is a topic that often comes up when discussing mental health. Whilst taking a bath or reading a good book might provide a short term boost to your mood, a bit of self-care will rarely provide long-lasting improvements to your state of mind. 

Spending time in nature is one of the most effective ways of boosting your mental health. In fact, the benefits of the outdoors for your mental wellbeing have been scientifically proven in a range of different studies. Something to consider if you’ve been suffering from consistent low mood recently is whether you’ve been spending enough time outdoors. 

Especially during the winter months, it’s easy to miss the few hours of daylight whilst in the office or at school. It may not seem like a big deal, however, not getting enough sunlight exposure can be very detrimental to your mental health and over time, you will start to feel the effects. Some common symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, sore bones and muscles and low mood.

Simply getting outdoors for a bit of time every day can have a profound effect on your wellbeing. Here are just some of the ways you’ll see your mental health improve by spending more time outside.

You’ll Feel More Creative

Creativity is often sparked by putting yourself in unfamiliar environments, which is the perfect excuse to get outside the next time you find yourself in a creative rut! Being in the outdoors is a great way to get away from other distractions to your creative process such as TV or social media, so you can properly focus on coming up with those brilliant ideas! In fact, one scientific study showed that being immersed in nature can boost your creative problem-solving abilities by 50%. 

Better Concentration

If you are someone who tends to have your head in the clouds, getting outdoors is a brilliant way to improve your concentration. Science has shown that the effects of a natural environment are huge for concentration. In fact, being in a park for as little as 20 minutes has been proven to help ADHD children focus. 

If you’re ever struggling to concentration on studying or work, maybe consider taking your work outside and see whether it’s easier to get your head down. Not only will there be fewer distractions, but the calming effect of your environment will put you in a more positive state of mind.

Better Memory

Our brains are very receptive to the natural environment, making it easier for us to memorise information. One scientific study showed that participants in a memory assessment who had been in nature prior to taking the test performed 20% better than those who hadn’t. The next time you have a big test coming up or need to memorise something important, spending some time outdoors could be a great way to focus your mind. You’ll be surprised by how much it helps!

Reduces Stress Levels

Being in a stressful environment will increase your blood pressure, anxiety and stress whilst being in a peaceful environment ha the reverse effect. For this reason, a natural setting such as a forest, the beach or park is one of the best places to relax because it completely removes you from the distractions of modern society. Being in nature lowers your blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension. Studies have shown that even just a view of nature is often linked to lower stress levels and higher job satisfaction. 

Regular Sleeping Pattern

We need natural light and darkness to regulate our circadian rhythm (natural waking and sleeping patterns). Using our phones and computers exposes us to artificial light components that interfere with our ability to sleep. Getting a good night of sleep is critical for your mental health and factors such as stress can quickly make it difficult to maintain a good sleeping pattern. Spending time in nature is the best way to reset your natural circadian rhythm and get a better night of sleep.

If you’ve been feeling down or anxious, it can be even more difficult than normal to find the motivation to get outside. However, here are a few ways that you can fit some time in nature into your schedule without making too much effort. We promise it will make a huge difference!

  • Take a walk on your lunch break
  • Get out for a run in the morning
  • Go hiking with friends
  • Take a book to your local park
  • Try and walk to work or school if you can
  • Try and spend your day in a room with lots of natural light or large windows 
  • Try and incorporate more plants into your living space

 

This guest post was written by freelance writer Katherine Myers.