Feeling a little out of sorts? Now that the weather is changing, and the temperature is warm and toasty, it’s time to get outside! Hopefully you get outside even in the winter, but now you don’t have any excuses. There ARE some benefits from being out in nature. It’s not just a coincidence that you feel better in nature; there happens to be some interesting scientific evidence why this is so.
6 benefits of being in nature
1- Improved Sense of Wellbeing
I don’t know about you, but I could use a little boost in this area. Several physiological experiments, both in actual forests and in the laboratory show physiological effects on individuals exposed to outdoor environments or certain elements of the outdoors, such as the odor of wood, the sound of running stream water, and even just the scenery of the forest. (1) Being outside also increases our exposure to sunlight. I love light! A sunny day may do more than just boost your mood, it increase levels of a natural antidepressant in the brain. A new study shows that the brain produces more of the mood-lifting chemical serotonin on sunny days than on darker days. (2)
2-Increases Vitamin D levels
Another reason to get more sun is that it increase levels of Vitamin D. Getting enough of this hormone (it is a hormone, not a vitamin) is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. Getting enough sunlight has also been linked with the prevention of osteoporosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, auto immune disorders, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease.
Dr. Axe recommends getting at least 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected time in the sun each day.
Being exposed to natural light first thing in the morning will help reset your circadian rhythm (internal body clock) which is tied to the sun’s schedule. Spending too much time inside, away from natural light and with increased exposure to artificial light, can alter our circadian rhythms, therefore disrupting our sleep patterns. Those who perform shift-work or travel frequently are subject to having their natural circadian rhythms disrupted. A few consecutive days outside, like camping, is a great way to reset your rhythm. Get yourself outside first thing in the morning. Sitting outside in the morning light while I eat my breakfast is one of my favorite things!
If you think you are better off breathing the air inside your home, you are WRONG! According to the EPA, our indoor environment is two to five times more toxic than our outdoor environment and most Americans spend about 90 percent of their lives indoors! Yikes! Time to get outside. Even during the winter, getting outside for even 10 minutes is a good break for our system.
Don’t you just love the smell of fresh air in the forest, at the beach, or even if your yard after the grass is cut?
Give your eyes a break! Who thought that being indoors for long periods of time could be bad for your eyes? There are a few reasons why this is so. First, if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, tv or iPhone when you are indoors. This can cause stress on the eyes. Blurred vision, double vision, dry/red eyes, eye irritation, headaches, and even neck or back pain, can be the results.
Second, an interesting study shows why there is an increase in nearsightedness. Those who spent at least two hours per day outdoors were four times less likely to be nearsighted than those who spent less than one hour per day outside. Something to LOOK into!
If you feel scattered, overwhelmed or just out-of-sorts, you may not be grounded. What is grounding? It is also called (earthing). The theory states that because the earth is negatively charged, and has a greater negative charge than your body, we absorb earth’s electrons. The rubber soles of our shoes prevent this absorption of electrons from occurring.
Don’t you just love walking barefoot on the beach, or grass, or even the dirt? There is a reason! The HeartMd Institute has a great article about this.
This physical disconnect from the Earth may be a totally overlooked cause of abnormal physiology and may actually contribute to inflammation, pain, fatigue, stress, and poor sleep. By reconnecting to the Earth, many common symptoms are often relieved and even eliminated.
I encourage my yoga students all the time to get their shoes off and walk barefoot as much as possible. So if you are feeling a little “off” kick off your shoes and take a stroll outside!
This is a great time of the year to get outside and do something FUN!
Here are just a few ideas of what to do outside
- Get on your bike and take a cruise around the neighborhood, or better yet a mountain trail.
- Take your dog with you to the mountains. (Sometimes a good idea, and sometimes not such a good idea) :0
- Go camping
- Go for a picnic
- Eat outside
- Read outside under a tree
- Go to the beach
- Sit and put your feet in a stream
- Go to a Drive-Inn Movie theater (if you are lucky enough to have one still around)
- River Running
The best outdoor portable chair ever!
We take these chairs everywhere. They are so light, easy to put up, and amazingly comfortable!
My daughter bought one from REI and it was the same deal, but costed almost $80 bucks. This one was is less than half of that and just as durable and comfortable.
It has it’s own case and is easy to store. We just throw them in our backpacks when we go anywhere.
Whatever you do this summer, I hope you GET OUTSIDE frequently.
Let nature RENEW you
- LISTEN to the sounds of the birds, a stream, the ocean, the wind and the waves.
- SMELL the fresh air.
- SEE the beautiful sunsets, green trees, and the blue sky.
- TOUCH the soil, the sand, the bark on the trees, and the pebbles in the stream.
- TASTE some wild berries, the goodness of your garden or a nice packed lunch.
A Few Tips:
- Leave your phone home, unless that is your photography source.
- Put your phone on “airplane” mode
- Give Facebook and Instagram a break until you get home
Enjoy your summer!