There’s no disputing the fact that I’m a city girl at heart. I also happen to love how technology allows us to connect with anyone in the world from almost anywhere. That being said, there is nothing quite like spending time in nature.
As an introvert, I need time by myself to rest and recharge. Connecting with nature, being physical, and exercising are probably are my top ways to de-stress.
Being in the great outdoors makes a huge difference in my attitude. Fresh air, the birds. Even when it’s beyond freezing outside, I feel like I’m in sync with something so much greater than me.
The best part: you don’t even have to exercise while you’re outside to reap the benefits of nature. That feeling of bliss that washes over you when you “get away from it all” isn’t just in your head. Studies have shown that taking time to unplug and be outside, has a positive effect on your well-being. How, exactly?
Here are five ways that being among nature can help restore us:
1. It Improves Body Function and Mood
When the sun is out, it provides vitamin D, which is associated with improving your mood, promoting bone and dental health, and reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. Vitamin D also improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels.
2. It Helps Regulate Your Sleep Schedule
In an ideal world, you’d spend most of your day outside, your circadian rhythm would sync up with the sun, and all would be great. Instead, most of us spend our days in dimly lit rooms in front of a computer. Your body’s internal clock is controlled by the hormone melatonin, which is directly affected by light. Too much light (which also includes screens) can mean not enough melatonin and not enough beauty rest. The right amount of melatonin ensures you have a good night’s sleep.
3. It Improves Your Sense of Well-being
Levels of oxygen in your brain are tied to levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that affects your mood, appetite, memory, social behavior, and a bunch of other things. Breathing fresh air can help regulate your levels of serotonin and promote happiness and wellbeing. This calming effect comes from not only the fresh air, but also the ground. Research has shown that bacteria commonly found in soil can act as a natural antidepressant by increasing the release and metabolism of serotonin.
4. It Lowers Stress
The outdoors is a powerful healing space. Just spending as much as 10 minutes outside has been proven to help people feel happier and lessen the effects of both physical and mental stress. Plus walking among nature or even being on a beach can help lower levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. No wonder so many people like to retreat to nature for a vacation.
5. It Helps You Center Your Mind
The brain uses up A LOT of the body’s energy, especially when you’re focused on a mental challenge. Leaving your devices behind and heading out into nature means you can leave the stressors of your life behind and instead focus your mind on other things, letting it recharge in the process.
It’s official: I’ll be spending this weekend outdoors to hit that reset button. It might be a little hot, but it will be so worth it. I hope you take the time to get outside and appreciate the many benefits that nature offers, too!