Our wonderful Charity Challenge leader Ian shares his thoughts on some of the benefits of spending time outdoors on your mental health.
The benefits of what I once saw referred to as “Vitamin N” (ie nature!) are many-fold. A huge amount of research has been undertaken on the subject confirming the real benefits of time spent outside on mental health – here’s just a few of these proven benefits from a little recent reading:
Reduce levels of stress
Making time to immerse yourself in nature even for a few minutes can reduce levels of stress by reducing the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and boosting endorphin and dopamine levels – the main chemicals that make us happy!
Increase energy levels
Time spent outdoors has been shown to have restorative properties – increasing energy levels and sharpening mental agility and focus. It doesn’t even need to be high-adrenaline extreme activity – just find a view and stay awhile to enjoy it.
Improve creative thinking
Taking some personal time out in nature can improve creative thinking and restore your capacity for concentration – if you have writers’ block or are struggling with a particular task or project – take a walk outside – it’s amazing how things can fall into place with a change of scenery!
Improve sleep quality
A couple of hours’ gentle walking in woodland or forest can evidently help improve sleep quality. Furthermore, time spent in natural, rather than artificial, light can help reset your body clock, helping you feel more refreshed after sleeping.
Reduce the risk of mental health
Regular use of the outdoors for exercise can reduce the risk of mental health problems significantly.We become nicer people!
The numerous benefits that exposure to nature provides us with also affect the way we treat others – put simply we become nicer people when we embrace nature!
William Henry Davies (1871-1940) was well aware of this, writing about it very eloquently in his poem “Leisure” – here’s an extract:
“What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare
No time to see, when woods we pass, where squirrels hide their nuts in grass
No time to see, in broad daylight, streams full of stars like skies at night
A poor life this, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare”
So – remember the old adage “What you need is fresh air and exercise” – because it’s absolutely true – and we can all benefit from it – so why not give it a try soon?
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