Every autumn, I start to feel down, really down. My thoughts become darker and gloomier. I become more critical of myself and everyone around me. I start doing less physical activity and I just want to curl up at home, eat salty snacks and binge-watch crappy television. And then I realize I need to get outside!
It can be really tough to keep up the habit of spending time in nature and getting outside. To make it easier to prioritize, make it one of your New Year's Resolutions because it is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Because being in nature has been shown to reduce stress and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that spending just 20 minutes in nature can significantly reduce stress.
Because being in nature can improve your mental health. Studies have found that spending time in nature can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety and help to boost mood. A review of research published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that nature exposure can improve mental health and well-being by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative rumination.
Because being in nature can improve your sleep. Spending time in nature has been shown to enhance sleep quality and help with insomnia. A review of research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that spending time in nature can improve sleep quality and duration.
Because being in nature provides opportunities for physical activities like hiking, biking and snowshoeing. Physical activity is related to numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, strengthening bones and muscles and reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Because being in nature can increase creative thinking and problem-solving abilities; it can also help to stimulate the brain and increase creativity. A study published in the Creativity Research Journal found that people who spent time in a natural setting performed better on a creativity task than those in an urban environment.
Because when we are in nature, we are away from many of the things that trigger and distract us. We can more easily focus on our sensations and thus be mindful.
But beware, not all time spent in nature is the same. Research has found that we do not reap the same benefits when distracted by technology such as smartphones or music.
Time spent in nature is most beneficial when it is done mindfully. This is the main reason I started Mindfulness Outdoors. I believe mindful time in nature is one of the best contexts for processing difficult situations and better understanding ourselves. By embracing our sensory experience in nature, we calm our nervous systems and create space for difficult thoughts and emotions thus allowing these thoughts and emotions to exist while we explore ourselves and our surroundings.
Moire Want to learn more? Check out some other articles on my blog.
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