Getting outside isn't just a breath of fresh air: it’s a full-blown health kick. Whether you're diving into a lake, trotting up the 1000 Steps, or lying in the park with a book, being outside is a game-changer.
We've all heard the common internet slander, "Touch some grass", but it's some solid advice. There's a whole bunch of evidence that spending time in the green gives our physical and mental health a hefty boost.
So what does looking at leaves actually do for us?
Instant mood boost
Everyone says it - being outside makes us happier
. Getting a good hit of fresh air and natural light has a massive affect on our moods. Actual sunlight is the biggest serotonin-booster - it literally sends a signal straight to our brains, which helps us with mood-regulation and general good vibes. If you're time and sunlight-poor, going outside and soaking in just a small amount of light can be enough to give us an energy kick and boost our moods.
Better sense of wellbeing
The sensory experience of being outdoors - the smells, sounds, and sights - has been directly linked to better mental health
is a new type of therapy that involves working in, experiencing, or spending time with other people in nature. It's been seen to help in cases of anxiety and mild to moderate depression.
Feeling the sun on your skin and the green in your eyes can help to reduce your cortisol levels
(the stress hormone). You'll also most likely experience less muscle tension, as well as lowered heart rate and blood pressure. This is because natural settings make us feel calmer, but are also usually paired with physical activity, which releases those sweet mood-regulating endorphins.
has found that having a plant in the room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety, and amazingly, that having a view of trees
can help patients recover more quickly from surgery.
Feel like you sleep better when you've been out and about during the day?
This is because when you soak up the rays when it's light, the extra sunlight will help you solidify and maintain a regular circadian rhythm. This makes us feel more alert during the day and relaxed when it's time to dream, meaning that our bodies can take a break from making melatonin on their own.
Not to mention that getting physical activity in during the day tuckers us out before bed, meaning we get into a deeper sleep.
Heightened creativity and productivity
All the good feels and better moods that being outside gives us means that we have a boosted sense of clarity and perspective. Meet Attention Restoration Theory
: the idea that being outside more allows us to concentrate better.
It checks out - stepping away from the screens and into a quieter space is refreshing. By spending time in nature, we can experience more mental clarity, leaving space for inspiration.
Stronger immune systems
Of course, living near a busy road is going to expose us to some nasty fumes. But did you know that our houses are also home to CO2, VOCs (perfume, cleaning products, paint fumes) and particulate matter? Ventilating your home and hanging out in fresh spaces leads to a lower risk of respiratory issues.
It also helps your immune system to function better. This is because living in stale environments doesn't come naturally to us. We need to microdose germs, people! That way, we can get prepared for the . Your body needs to be given a chance to sort out the sniffly from the scary, and learn how to respond. Plus, the sun gets us that sweet Vitamin D, which keeps our bones strong and boosts our immune system.
An appreciation of the world around us
Experiencing a feeling of awe is linked to making us a genuinely kinder and more generous human
. The innate human instinct, Biophilia, suggests that humans are genetically drawn towards a relationship with the natural world. Spending time outside allows us to embrace that need and appreciate the feeling of being part of something bigger.
Loving the natural world is also more likely to make us engage with efforts to protect it. The more time you spend admiring the natural world, the more involved you're likely to be in supporting sustainability and conservation efforts.
Getting outdoors isn't just a mood booster; it's a holistic health extravaganza.
From an instant mood lift to stress reduction, improved sleep, and heightened creativity – nature's got it all.
Plus, it's not just about us; it's about our planet. Loving nature makes us more likely to protect it.