Words by Sarah Hickerson
As the days get longer, and the chill of the long Northeast winter is warmed by the rays of the sun, spring has definitely sprung, and there’s no better time than now to start spending more time outside. Not only is it lovely to spend time in nature on an aesthetic level, but spending time outdoors actually has many benefits for your health.
Raise your hand if “stressed” is part of your daily vocabulary. Yep, every hand in the room. Stress can be key for survival, but too much can be harmful. Emotional stress - the kind we feel because we’re on a tight deadline at work, or had a fight with someone we care about, or feel disconnected as we spend more and more time online and less and less time together - can stay around for weeks or months, weakening our immune system and causing a whole host of other physical ailments.
The cure? Step outside. Spending time in nature helps to decrease stress hormones, heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels --- and destress like the otters do.
Walking outside helps improve short-term memory. Tested through different experimental studies, they all conclude that walking outside boosts your memory more than walking inside. While you may be apprehensive to taking a break when trying to memorize something, studying for a test, or working on a presentation, consider stepping outside for a few minutes -- it’s an effective technique with long-term positive effects.
Being in nature can also help eliminate fatigue and help increase mood and decrease depression, especially when paired with exercise. Sometimes you quite literally need a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery. A study done by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Society found that outdoor exercise led to increased self-esteem and mood; those with mental health disorders showed the most self-esteem improvement. So if you’re feeling down, hiking, running, swimming, paddling, biking, or even walking, can help give you a restart, help you clear your head, and boost your mood.
Looking for a fun way to destress? We know all about the value of spending time in nature, and the special value of adding the element of water. With our cleanup events, floating yoga & fitness classes, and Aqua Vida Eco Retreats, we make sure relaxing in nature, soaking up the sun, some water, and some fun is always on deck.
Next time you’re feeling like you haven’t quite rolled out of hibernation yet, keep all this in mind and take a breather outside. Put your phone in your pocket and enjoy taking in the views of the world around you; sunshine really is the best medicine.