Recently I was feeling a little stressed and overwhelmed. Naturally with life being the way it is right now I was noticing I was feeling extremely disconnected to people. I was feeling sad and lonely even though I had my kids around me 24/7 and my husband present more than most families. I realized that my patience was short with my kids and I was reacting to my husband when he didn’t deserve it. I knew there was something going on with me but didn’t know what I needed to do to fix it. I knew it was a sign that I needed a change or at least a break. I want to share with you how I came out of this and the 11 benefits of being outdoors that I found helped me.
Thankfully we had this camping trip planned from the beginning of the summer to Gooseberry Falls State Park on the upper north shore of Minnesota. I was beyond ready for this time to disconnect from our everyday life and focus on what really filled me up.
So we loaded up the RV, packed up our camping gear, and hit the road. Of course with any vacation I was instantly feeling those everyday stressors start to dissipate. We arrived at our campsite and set up our home for the next 3 days. After getting settled and eating some dinner we loaded up our bikes and headed to the nearby beach. As I sat on the rocks watching my kids and husband jump around and play, I could consciously feel myself beginning to relax and to feel my soul recharging again. There was something about the smell of fresh air, the sound of the waves hitting the rocks, and feeling my feet grounded into the earth that was giving me LIFE again.
After 3 glorious days of hiking, biking, playing in waterfalls, and living the easy life in nature, my mood was completely changed and my spirit was recharged. Right then and there I knew that being outside and being in nature was exactly what my soul needed.
There are many benefits to being in nature. Below I listed just a few things that happen to you both physically and emotionally and why. Here are 11 benefits of being outdoors.
Natural light– UVB rays from the sun allow our bodies to make much-needed Vitamin D. Being out in natural light can instantly boost your mood. As a Minnesotan we often supplement vitamin D during the winter to make sure we don’t suffer from seasonal depression. We also make it a point to get outside even when it’s cold and snowy to help get as many rays as we can in the cloudy months. Sunlight also gives you a natural boost of serotonin levels which is also referred to as the “happy chemical.”
Lower Heart Rate– Being outside can lower your heart rate (unless you are exercising of course) and your cortisol levels, which is your stress hormones. Even just having a view of outdoors while you work can allow you to receive some of these benefits. I like to position my work desk in front of a window. I can tell my stress levels are less and my work production goes up.
Lessens Anxiety and Depression– Like I mentioned before, you get that natural boost of “happy chemicals” like serotonin that lessons anxiety and stress. Bonus points if you do it while in an active state like walking, biking, or gardening.
Improve Self-Esteem– Activities that result in getting you up and moving will naturally improve your self-esteem. It will give you a sense of accomplishment. I felt my self-esteem improve when I was hiking while carrying my baby on my back, or biking while pulling my daughter in the bike cart. I was feeling a lot stronger and better due to being active while on my vacation.
Boost Your Energy– It turns out that just 20 minutes of being outside can give you as much energy as a cup of coffee! So instead of grabbing your coffee in the morning, grab some personal development and a blanket and head outside to help you wake up.
Alleviate Pain– I found a study that reports that surgery patients exposed to high-intensity sunlight report less stress and pain then those patients who recovered indoors. Feeling pain from a surgery or just injured yourself? Get outside and see if it alleviates any of your pain symptoms.
Reduces Inflammation– Along with reducing pain, being outside can reduce inflammation for those who suffer from autoimmune disorders, cancer, or even depression.
Boost Immune System– This benefit has proven to be huge for a couple different reasons. Exposure to sunlight energizes your T-cells, which help to fight off infection, and assist your body in producing Vitamin D, which is vital to immune function. In addition, breathing in airborne compounds released by plants increases our white blood cell count to even further fight off infections.
Lower Blood Pressure– Countless studies have discovered that time spent in nature naturally lowers blood pressure. One study in particular found that a walk in the forest lowered participant’s average heart rate by nearly 4 percent, average blood pressure by just over 2 percent, and stress hormone concentration by more then 15 percent. Suffer from high blood pressure? Make outdoor trips part of your daily routine.
Improve Sleep– Did you know that certain cells in your eyes determine your body’s internal clock and sleep cycle? If those cells don’t receive enough light, then you’ll experience trouble sleeping. Research has found that exposure to early morning sunlight is especially helpful in ensuring you get a good night’s sleep. Making sun exposure part of your morning routine is that much more important.
Grounds You– When you spend time outside you build a relationship with the local environment and get in touch with nature. Walking around barefoot can even ground you with the Earth’s surface electrons, which is believed to have positive benefits both physically and emotionally.
I can confidently say that those 4 days spent outside and in nature gave me a new sense of life. I came home with patience, joy in my life, and a love and appreciation for my husband that needed to be shown. I felt grounded in my life and in my body.
After seeing the benefits of being outdoors, how many of these 11 benefits of being outdoors do you think you will try?
If you are new to getting outside, take it slow. You don’t need to spend hours being outside; just 5-10 minutes a day can have major benefits. Once you have gotten into routine of making outdoor trips part of your life, then you can increase your time. Don’t put pressure on yourself, just make it a priority and it will come naturally.
What’s your favorite way to spend time outdoors?