Whether you are on the path to recovery, struggling with mental illness, or feeling discouraged by the pandemic, going outdoors is beneficial for your well-being. There is an ever-growing field of research in what is becoming known as ecotherapy. Ecotherapy studies the relationship between the great outdoors and human health. Preliminary data shows us that outdoor activities may help reduce stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
This study, for example, found a link between reduced prefrontal cortex activation, the region used more actively during negative reflection, during and after nature walks. Other studies have shown that nature sounds can help reduce potentially serious health problems such as high blood pressure. A lot of outdoor activities also involve moderate amounts of physical activity, which is associated with greater mental and physical health benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at some outdoor activities that are sure to help you de-stress:
Go for a hike
Going for a hike is not only great for your mental health but your physical health as well. Depending on what type of workout you do, this may just be a leisurely 20-minute stroll or a more advanced 6-mile climb. There are many great apps out there that will help you find the perfect hike for the mood you are in.
Taking some time off and spending a few nights in Mother Nature can do wonders for your outlook and productivity. Bring some wood to start a fire, roast some marshmallows, and just relax. Be mindful of how large your group is, many campgrounds currently have limits due to COVID-19. Check out our previous blog for additional information.
Have a picnic at the park
If it’s a pleasant day it would be a waste not to take advantage. Bring a blanket and some takeout to a park and decompress. Take a quick walk after your meal and head home for a nap afterward.
Ride a bike
Some people go decades forgetting that you can ride a bike just for fun. It’s a great tool for getting around, but it can also be a relaxing activity. Find a nice asphalt or dirt trail somewhere nearby and take your bike out.
Swim at a lake
Bring a bunch of towels, tubes, and a cooler full of drinks, and find a lake. Just make sure you don’t forget to use lots of sunscreen.