What if I offered you a prescription scientifically proven to lower your stress, strengthen your immune system, increase cognitive function, and significantly improve your overall well-being? Sounds too good to be true? Well, here you go:
Rx: Go Outside
Spending time in nature has a myriad of health benefits. From mental, to physical, to social… Mother Nature has got the whole package.
There’s a reason why tons of wilderness therapies have popped up over the last few decades. As people spend more and more time inside, at desks or on devices, taking time out to reconnect with nature can provide just the right environment for major change in one’s life.
Let’s explore some of the benefits you experience when you venture outside, plus tips on outdoor activities!
1. Stress Buster.
There’s something about being in nature that helps remove you from the buzz of society, and the associated stress.
During my undergrad, whenever I was feeling stressed, I would hike about 1⁄4 mile up a trail to a bench that overlooked my town. Seeing the people and cars bustling around, all wrapped up in their own bubbles, helped me see the busy bees from another perspective. And in the bigger picture the stuff stressing me out really wasn’t that big of a deal.
2. Your Vitamin D Fix.
Who needs a mediocre orange colored beverage when you can get the ORIGINAL sunny D. That glorious big ball of sky fire itself, the sun! Just 10-30 minutes of midday sun a few times throughout the week (before you apply sunscreen) can ensure you are getting enough Vitamin D.
3. Improves your overall well-being.
Research shows that spending 120 minutes outside a week dramatically improves people’s well-being! That breaks down to just 15-20 minutes a day!
Enjoy nature by trying out activities like these:
Regular gardeners experience both immediate and long-term health benefits such as: less stress and depression symptoms, better life satisfaction, and increased physical activity. Get your hands dirty and your mind clean!
2. Forest bathing
You don’t have to get your heart rate up to reap the rewards of being in nature. Forest bathing, common in Japan, is a practice in which people just go to the woods, relax, and breathe in natural essential wood oils. It’s aromatherapy meets nature! Sounds nice right? It’s also linked to lower levels of stress and improved immune system functioning.
3. Take a hike, man
Flagstaff is home to oodles of trails. Whether you choose to hike, run, or ride you can experience beautiful scenery and the benefits of exercise simultaneously!
4. Embrace your inner Bob Ross and paint those happy little trees
So many hobbies can get you outside that a complete list would be quite exhaustive. So here’s just a few you can try:
- Painting or drawing
- People watching
- Pokemon Go
5. Bring nature inside
If you can’t get outside then why don’t you bring nature to you? Studies have shown that house plants (or work plants!) contribute to improved mood. Do you have a reputation as a plant killer of even the hardiest plants? There are tons of apps to help you develop that green thumb!
With summer almost upon us, take some time to explore your own backyard. Your body will thank you. Happy trails!