Being outdoors and among nature can significantly reduce stress, anxiety and depression as well as improving your physical wellbeing. With the pandemic causing an increase in mental health issues, it’s more important than ever to discover the wellbeing benefits of nature and get outdoors more.
What are the mental health benefits of being outdoors?
- Being outside means we can soak up more sunlight and much-needed vitamin D, which plays a vital role in physical and mental health as it keeps our bones healthy, boosts our immune system, improves our mood and makes us feel more energised.
- Although warmer and brighter weather encourages us to spend more time outdoors and live a healthier lifestyle, going for walks in the winter and autumn months also has its benefits, and spending more time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
If you want to bathe in nature and enjoy that feel good factor, there are lots of activities you can do outdoors to get those endorphins flowing.
Walking and The Wellbeing Benefits
Walking is one of the best outdoor activities not only because you can immerse yourself in beautiful surroundings and listen to the sound of nature, but because of its mental wellbeing benefits too:
- Lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduces cholesterol and blood pressures
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Helps protect against dementia
- Helps fight obesity
Why not visit your local park, explore some woodlands or walk around a lake? Without even realising it, it’s likely you’ll start to practice mindfulness along the way by paying more attention to your natural surroundings. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the sound of birds, savour the fresh scents of the trees and plants, or observe any wildlife you might come across. This is a great way to calm the mind and feel more grateful for the things that you might not normally appreciate in your day-to-day life.
There are 15 national parks in the UK, each possessing some of the most beautiful landscapes across the nation. Whether you want to tackle the fells of the Lake District, explore the moors and tors of the Peak District, or lose yourself in the peace and tranquility of the New Forest, you’ll feel blessed to have access to so much natural beauty.
Walk4Life is a great online resource that provides walking routes, maps, challenges, and local walking groups if you’re not sure where to start.
In recent years, Shinrin-yoku has become a popular activity across the globe. Also known as forest bathing, this nature activity has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure, meaning the risk of depression, stroke, or even cancer is reduced. So, what does forest bathing mean? Well, the good news is, you don’t have to show up in a swimming costume! Basically, it’s all about spending time among the trees, switching off from the outside world, and being mindful of the natural surroundings. If you want to totally de-stress and clear your mind, this is a great way to do it.
Getting Sporty Among Nature
If you want to step it up a notch and get the adrenalin flowing, there are many outdoor sports and activities you can take part in from cycling and kayaking to swimming and sky diving. As well as having a huge amount of fun, these outdoor activities among nature can improve both your physical and mental wellbeing. Here are a few more ideas to get your blood pumping…
If you want to find out more about how nature and being outdoors can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing, visit Mind for more information.