Does nature affect mental health?

Inside Out: Why You Should Be Spending More Time Outdoors

What's your favorite thing to do outdoors? Swim? Bike? Whatever it is, get out there and do it!

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As I return from my beach hiatus, I am realizing the benefits of spending more time outdoors and less time on my phone. In our everyday lives, we get so consumed by emails and phone calls and working that we forget about the little things. Taking time to get outside and enjoy nature not only has mental but physical benefits as well.

First, if you're upset, try taking a walk. According to Stanford researchers, walking in nature can lower the risk of depression and anxiety. It is also shown that as urbanization increases, depression rates increase as well, and people who live in the city have a 20% higher risk of anxiety disorders. Try muting your phone and heading to a park or a conservation area and taking time to de-stress.

Urbanization also leads to mood disorders, and with over half of the world's population living in urban areas, it's easy to see the positive correlation between increasing urbanization and increasing rates of mood disorders. Researchers have also determined that neurological activity in the part of your brain that focuses on negative thoughts decreases when in nature. It's easier to have a positive mindset when you're unplugged from outside distractions.

Additionally, it has been shown that nature plays a significant effect on stress levels. When overwhelmed or stressed out, spending time in nature can help you to recharge and refocus. There are many fun things to do outdoors, such as take a hike, swim, kayak, fish, etc., so pick your favorite and head outside!

Spending time outdoors also affects your self-esteem. After spending time outdoors your blood pressure is lower, you have a better self-image and you're more confident. Comparing ourselves to everyone around us is normal, especially with the elevation of social media, but getting outdoors and turning off our phones is beneficial for our mental health.

Personally, I love taking pictures, so when I'm in need of a nature visit, I find a close-by nature preserve or beach and snap some pics! It's a great way to see the outdoors and learn more about where you live, while also getting to save the memories. Grab some friends and it's even better!

What's your favorite thing to do outdoors? Swim? Bike? Whatever it is, get out there and do it!

Cover Image Credit:

Janet Elizabeth Herman

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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The Old Oak Tree

A short poem about returning to one's childhood home.

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Looming over the burned-out house is an oak tree,

Hundreds of years old at least.

The smell of smoke is gone, but skeleton of the house remains,

A mere speck when compared to the tree.

Whose branches reach out to me like hands,

Begging for me to come closer.

I do.

I sit under the tree like I did when I was young.

The ground is damp from the rain,

I feel the sogginess soaking through my jeans.

I remain.

It is cooler under the branches,

A limitless amount of leaves shades me from the daylight.

I stay there. All day.

Staring at the charred remains of my childhood home.

I stay there until fog begins to form in the crisp night air,

Cold and sharp against my cheeks.

No longer able to withstand the cold, I take my leave looking back once more.

It's nice to know that even when I'm gone,

The old oak tree remains.

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