Why get outdoors?

Elan Valley

Getting outdoors is more than the environment that surrounds you on your daily commute. The outdoors has an array of benefits both mentally and physically and I don’t just mean the benefits of breathing in fresh air or soaking in Vitamin D from the sun. I’ve listed just a few reasons, that have helped me or people I know and I’d love to hear your ideas too, so please leave comments or let us know your own experiences

Better mental health

Taking a stroll outside for just 15 minutes can help if you’re feeling anxious or low - as an anxiety sufferer myself, I can hand on heart say I feel the benefits. Research published in June of last year found that by simply being outdoors in nature can impact and improve feelings of well-being and reduce your anxiety. And when you think about it, there’s nothing better than getting outside to clear your head.

Stress relief

A Scandinavian study found that office workers with views solely of trees or nature, had lower stress levels than those with city views. Improving your stress levels can lead to better focus and could be why you do your best thinking or generate your best ideas whilst out for a walk through the woods, mountains or even on the beach!.

Cognitive psychologist David Straye reported in National Geographic that “Our brains aren’t tireless three-pound machines; they’re easily fatigued. When we slow down, stop the busy work and take in the beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performances improves too”.

Struggle with sleep?

Decreasing your light exposure in the evening, such as mobile phone screens is very prevalent today but we don’t talk much about the benefits forms of blue light can bring. Research suggests that by getting outside in the morning it can have a huge impact on how you sleep at night. By exposing your entire body to blue light, the best blue light being sunlight, first thing in the morning is a surefire way to tell your body, it’s daytime and you need to be active.

By exposing yourself to sunlight, your body increases its production of serotonin - a neurotransmitter that regulates not only sleep but your mood, social behavior, memory, and digestion to name a few. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin, which is needed for deep remedial sleep. By getting outdoors in the morning, you ramp up the production of serotonin, which after 12 hours or so, is converted into melatonin - allowing us to sleep better at night.

In addition, I also find reading a good book helps me sleep. I have my phone set to remind me to prepare to sleep, this might sound crazy but it’s a great way to remind yourself to put down your mobile device and start preparing your mind for sleep. It is recommended that we stop looking at screens at least an hour before bed, so I like to switch to a good book, switch on my diffuser (I am currently using a great night time blend from Neal’s Yard but I am open to your suggestions to try) and relax...

How to start?

It’s quite easy for me to list the benefits, but how do you make that first step?

Take a break. Rather than spending your lunch break at your desk, or in the staff room - why not go for a short walk, research suggests by doing so you’ll improve your concentration.

It doesn’t have to be physical activity. Whether it’s just relaxing, reading a book or taking your work or meal outside, they all have benefits to your well-being. Try it you’ll be surprised!

But if you fancy a little. Encourage friends to get outside, instead of a weekly catch up indoors, try a Sunday morning walk or if you fancy something a little more strenuous try a light jog.

There are plenty of Saturday morning park runs (just google park runs in your area) popping up and they are a great way to get outdoors, meet like-minded people and develop your confidence.

Committing to long runs or walks can be quite daunting, so start small and build up, you’ll soon start to reap the rewards, both mentally and physically.

Most importantly whatever you choose to do, enjoy it! Time for ourselves shouldn’t be a luxury but something we do to look after ourselves. We all brush our teeth daily because it’s important and so is wellbeing, so start today, find 10 minutes and get outdoors!

Whatever you do - Don’t forget to tag us in your photos (#dustandpine) and let us know how you get on. Dust & Pine is all about you, whoever you are and we would love to hear your stories!

...What are you waiting for, it’s time to get outdoors!

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