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!
Janet Elizabeth Herman