If you’re anything like us, you think about the natural world a lot – it doesn’t take much to summon images of trash-strewn beaches and bare forests to your mind, and you always do your best to avoid harming the planet.
But as much as we work to preserve nature, most of us forget to enjoy it. Whether it’s the tree in your backyard shifting color with the seasons, a trip to the beach, or a stroll in a nearby park – when was the last time you took a moment to just breathe it in, notice it, enjoy it?
It’s easy to get stuck in our own heads and the headlines, where nature gets associated with all the issues and challenges we’re facing. But nature is more than just a problem to be solved. So today, we wanna give you a few good reasons to spend more time outside – and away from screens.
We already knew nature was incredible. But here are 5 benefits to being in nature – among many others!
1. Improves Your Immune System
It’s true – spending time outdoors can actually boost your immune system.
Not only does the outdoors offer fresh air and movement, which is good for your overall health. The many microorganisms found outside that aren’t dangerous can prepare and strengthen your immune system, so it’s better equipped when dangerous viruses or bacteria come along.
In fact, living a life that’s completely clean and sterile can confuse your immune system, until it can no longer recognize what’s dangerous and what isn’t. This could even lead to chronic inflammation down the line.
So, get out there and get your boots dirty. It’s good for you.
2. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Leafy screensavers and nature sounds on Spotify have nothing on the real thing. It’s well-known that spending time outside in nature has a calming effect, and can reduce both stress, anxiety and even depression.
A study from 2019 showed that just 20 minutes spent outside can significantly lower your stress hormones. Not to mention the positives of feeling the sun on your skin and storing up some D-vitamin, or the calming effect of the breeze in the trees.
“Just 20 minutes spent outside can significantly lower your stress hormones.”
Even more, research has found that going outside can not only make you feel more relaxed, but also improve your focus and work almost as an antidote to the overstimulation of the modern world.
Taking a quick walk or eating your lunch in the park may sound simple, but it’s effective – and could be just the break from the stress of everyday life that you need. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.
3. Better Sleep
Sleep is the foundation of a good day, and a good night’s sleep begins with sunlight.
See, your internal clock, or the so-called circadian rhythm, is controlled by light and darkness, typically following the movements of the sun. And if it’s thrown off, your sleep can easily become wonky.
Luckily, direct sunlight is one of the best ways to restore your circadian rhythm – in fact, direct sunlight is 200 times more intensive than artificial lights. Best of all? It’s entirely free.
Among other things, spending time in the sun can help you grow more tired at night, improve sleep-quality, and even shorten the time it takes to fall asleep. So, what are you waiting for?
4. Makes You Feel Connected
Feeling connected is one of our most basic needs. And yet, the more we connect online, the more disconnected most of us feel from the world around us. And when we feel disconnected, alone can easily slip into loneliness.
But research shows that time spent in nature can make us feel more connected, and not just to the world around us but to our communities, too. It’s believed this is partly because of nature’s ability to foster empathy and feelings of love and belonging.
“Time spent in nature can make us feel more connected, and not just to the world around us but to our communities, too.”
If you’re someone who struggles with eco-anxiety, connecting to your local area and green spaces could be especially important. Seeing the beauty of nature close to you can help ease catastrophe thinking around the environment and the planet’s health.
So take a stroll around your local area, and notice the world around you. You’re part of it, and it’s yours to enjoy.
5. Gives You Hope
In times like these, finding and holding on to hope – and really feeling it – can be a difficult task. There are a lot of things happening across the globe that are difficult to deal with, and for many, they are constantly working at the back of their minds.
But studies have found that those who live in green and leafy areas, and surround themselves with nature consistently, are more likely to feel good about their health and their future. The calming and nurturing effects of nature have ripple-effects, and can help power our hope during difficult periods of our lives.
Simple Ways to Spend More Time Outside
Spending more time in nature is a small and quick commitment, but one that can really make an impact in your life. And quite honestly, you deserve the treat – with so much of your energy going toward saving the planet, why shouldn’t you also enjoy it? So, here are some ideas for how to spend more time in nature:
- Go fishing
- Go for a swim
- Take a stroll your neighborhood
- Go for a hike, or plan a camping weekend
- Eat your lunch in the park
- Get your friends together for a picnic
- Do your daily workout at a local outdoors gym
- If you live near water, hire kayaks or a rowing boat
- Take your dog to a local dogpark
- Read a book outside
- Volunteer at a local horse stable
- Take up gardening, or learn how to set up your own compost
- Sign up for an outdoors yoga class
- Hire bikes and explore local nature areas
Of course, if you’re in the northern hemisphere at the moment, you might find motivation a little scarce. It’s not exactly picnic weather this time of year. But you can always take your daily walk in a forested area, where you’re mostly covered from any rain, or just go ahead and get outside for that soccer game anyway. Why not embrace the season? After all, there’s no bad weather – only bad clothing.
What’s your favorite way to spend time outdoors? Let us know in the comments below!
Psst… Want to learn more about how trees help the planet, and howyou can help them? Click here!