I’m always talking about the outdoors on this blog. I can’t help it.
Although I wouldn’t call myself a serious hard-core outdoorswoman, I do love being out in nature and escaping to my favourite places. It’s my go-to when things just get on top of me, and the world starts to feel like a bit too much. Today I was in the mood for a dog walk, so I headed out with Lily and explored.
For me, being outside puts so much into perspective. You could pop down to a McDonald’s a people watch for half an hour and soon realise you’re only a tiny part of this enormous puzzle. Or find a field and watch sheep going about their day (they literally eat all day) and it warms your heart a little.
I think taking your mind off the one thing that’s bringing you down can help alleviate some of the problem.
My favourite place to visit is the very top of the local moors. You can see most of West Yorkshire from up there, watch planes go by and usually get a hello from a couple of dogs and their walkers. Up there, it’s pretty quiet, but you see the world go by and anxiety seems to settle down.
Fresh air strengthens your immune system, meaning you can properly fight bacteria and germs. But that’s not the only benefit. It naturally makes you happier, or puts your mind in a more of a relaxed state. The cleaner air you breathe, the more oxygen you breathe, which increases the amount of serotonin you inhale, therefore making you happier.
When you take time out, and take in fresh air, you naturally return with a clearer or sharper mind, and much more focus. For me, motivation is a great thing to have when I’m feeling down. When I’m excited to start something, my mood is completely transformed and I’m happier due to feeling inspired.
Excising outside reduces anger and depression – two major mental health struggles that can make life so much more difficult (Barton and Pretty, 2010). Walking in the sun means you’ll take in more vitamin D, and this can enhance your mood.
There are endless benefits of exercise, but one of the huge advantages of working out regularly is that your body releases endorphins which can trigger a positive feeling and reduce stress.
I usually go for a long walk when I feel really low or anxious because it’s good to get outside, but also because I know that physical activity contributes to a workout and will ward off anxiety.
A National Geographic article included a quote by David Strayer saying, “Our brains aren’t tireless three-pound machines; they’re easily fatigued. When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too.”
People tend to turn to natural or herbal remedies for stress relief, and it’s because nature itself is a reliever of stress. Whenever I’m too stressed (which is almost every day), just taking a moment to look out the window is calming. Actually heading out the door, switching of for twenty minutes and enjoying my green (or now, orange) surroundings makes the world of a difference.