There is a ton of research out there about mental health and the great outdoors. For one, being active helps produce endorphins in your body which give you an immediate mood boost (endorphins are chemicals produced by the body). Also, simply getting some sun can help the body absorb vitamin D which is seen to also be associated with improving depression. One study found that vitamin D deficiency impairs and prolongs recovery from depression (Greenblatt 2011). So if we know all this information, why aren’t we all getting out there for a quick jog? Or maybe you didn’t know and this information is new to you?
It is very common to hear doctors and therapists recommend to go for a walk or increase physical activity somehow but how much do we really take them seriously? How much do we actually listen? Or maybe you haven’t been told this. But I am telling you now, do it! It’ll help bring about positive changes. As a clinician, even I have trouble prioritizing my own time outdoors but..
Here are a couple ways I get myself to do at least one active outdoor activity a week:
- Schedule it. I tend to enjoy writing things down to help with prioritizing. Not to mention that instant gratification of crossing things off when completed! If I write it down, I’m more likely to complete it. So why not try this out.
- Include someone else in your outdoor activity. Not only will you be more likely to complete it, but you’ll have the added bonus of helping your loved one improve his/her mental health as well.
- Make it routine. Just like we have “Margarita Monday” and “Taco Tuesday”, why not have “Walking Wednesdays”? or “Sunny Sundays”? You’ll be patting yourself on the back for adding some healthy habits to your weekly routines.
Also, here are a couple of amazing articles/websites on the benefits of being active/the great outdoors on mental health: