Why Getting Outside Can Boost Your Mental Health



After I gave birth to my daughter (2 whole years ago!) and recently after recovering from cancer, there was one constant that kept me going mentally … being outside. After I gave birth I told my husband – to make sure I get outside every day. Mind you, this was in December! The same thing when I was undergoing my cancer treatments – I made sure I got outside. Being outside gave me space and peace. Even if it was 5 minutes – it greatly improved my mood and overall mental health. Turns out, science backs this up!!


Here's why it’s important to get outside!


According to the American Psychological Association, there are several benefits to being outside backed by science.


improve your mood and reduce stress and anger

Think of the last time you went for a walk outside or just stepped outside for fresh air and took a deep breath. Did you automatically feel better? Yup! Studies have shown that contact with nature is associated with increases in happiness, subjective well-being, positive affect, positive social interactions, and a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as decreases in mental distress. (https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature)


Help you take time out and feel more relaxed

Going outside, especially when you feel anxiety rising, can help you take a breather. There is something calming about the outdoors, and it allows you to reset. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve felt overwhelmed and then when I step outside it’s as if things melt away. I can get a clearer picture of what I need to do to get past the hurdle.


Improve your physical health and be more active

We love outdoor workouts! Whether you’re taking a hike or doing a fun park workout like us here, use the great outdoors to move your body in whatever way feels good for you!


Improve your confidence and self-esteem

Being outside can give you a new perspective. It allows you to see things clearer and can boost your self-esteem and confidence! If you’re feeling unsure about something, go outside for a brief walk to clear your head. You may find your fears and insecurities melt away with this new perspective!


Improves your social health

Getting outside just makes us nicer. We may find ourselves smiling more, saying hi to a passerby, or helping someone out! Getting outside in your community can make you more active within the community and help you get to know the people in your neighborhood! This can help your social connections and make you feel like you’re part of the community, which in turn can help you feel more connected and decrease loneliness.


Help you feel more connected to nature

I recently just went for a walk in the woods to enjoy the foliage. Have you ever just stopped and listened? You can hear so much! Leaves falling, animals scurrying, streams of water. Being in nature helps you be more connected to it and stay present. Enjoy the beauty around you!


Not sure where to start? Here are some cool ideas to try in nature to help you get started!


Resources:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/ideas-to-try-in-nature/

https://www.audubon.org/news/small-doses-daily-outdoor-exercise-boost-mood-and-self-esteem-study-shows

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/how-nature-benefits-mental-health/

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature


Author: Melissa Dupuis, MPH, CHES

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