If you’re one of the three million who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.), springtime makes you feel like a butterfly emerging from its winter cocoon. It’s evident based on research that we aren’t meant to be cooped up indoors for lengthy periods of time.
In fact, evidence shows that getting outside does incredible wonders for the mind and body. As the weather warms and the sun shines this spring, here are even more reasons you’ll want to get outside — beyond enjoying a wine or beer on your patio, of course!
Getting Outside Calms Your Crazy
There’s something about being in nature that forces us to think outside our bodies and reflect upon a life and world happening outside our own. Studies show that sitting outside can actually reduce blood pressure, lower the heart rate, and decrease cortisol (that’s your stress hormone).
Our minds work in a similar way. Spending time outside improves mood and reduces feelings of anxiety. We can focus better when outdoors, improving our concentration and even our self-esteem. If you’re one of the lucky few who has access to an outdoor courtyard or working space, try bringing your laptop outside. You’ll notice an instant shift in your mood even if your inbox is a hot mess.
Nature Boosts Your Creativity
Because endless hours behind a screen can literally tire your brain and your eyes, being outdoors can help reduce your mental fatigue. Research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that walking outdoors increases your creative juices and boosts your brain activity. Some studies say that 20 minutes outside can wake you up just as much as one cup of coffee can. While our crew won’t ditch our favorite beans anytime soon, we do enjoy daily walks around our Cleveland neighborhood during warmer months, refreshed to tackle the creative work for the afternoon.
“Forest Bathing” Strengthens Your Immunity
If you haven’t heard of forest bathing, we’re predicting it to be the next trending hashtag. It’s a Japanese term that simply means taking in the forest atmosphere. Meaning: Get outside!
A study published in 2010 followed a group of Japanese adults on a three-day trip to the forest and found that it increased the number of white blood cells in their blood, the levels of which remained elevated for more than 30 days after forest bathing. So why is this biology lesson important? White blood cells are crucial to both boosting and keeping your immune system operating at its best.
Exposure to a diverse variety of bacteria present in natural areas may also have benefits for the immune system and reduce inflammation. Study co-author Prof Andy Jones, said, "We often reach for medication when we're unwell but exposure to health-promoting environments is increasingly recognized as both preventing and helping treat disease. Our study shows that the size of these benefits can be enough to have a meaningful clinical impact."
Conclusion: Getting outside can actually make you healthier.
Our professional and personal worlds have shifted us behind screens the majority of the day, but it’s important to remember that nature not only benefits us physically and mentally, but displays a rather entertaining show of its own. So get out, enjoy, and breathe in that fresh spring air. After all, it’s good for you!