Why Spending Time Outdoors is Essential for Self-Care

After homeschooling, managing household duties, and providing care for my elderly mother, a daily victory was simply finishing the most vital tasks and then falling into bed. Each day was brain-draining.

Many responsibilities were on my plate each day, and self-care seemed like one more thing to add to my list.

Taking time for ourselves is essential, but I have learned healthier options than vegetating on the couch with Netflix. There is a type of self-care that can be effortless to do.

Just walk outside.

We tell our kids to put down their screens and spend time outside. It is just as imperative for us. Being outdoors shouldn’t automatically be associated with something else for the to-do list or brisk exercise (although that’s good for us). It can simply be a stroll on a nature trail or having a beverage of choice on the back patio.

Photo by Kevin Wolf on Unsplash

Spending time outdoors is an essential part of self-care
because it has multiple benefits.

Going outdoors is therapeutic.

Feeling frazzled? Spending time outside can be calming and improve your mood. Taking some deep breaths of fresh air can relieve stress and anxiety. Nature eases stress because it lowers the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels have been linked to anxiety, depression, memory, concentration, and sleep disruption.  

Whether you devote just 10 minutes or an hour, spending time outside can be refreshing and help you feel better about yourself. You’ll be more focused. Being outside can even encourage you to become more active.

For those with mental illness or in recovery, there are many benefits of being outside.

Experience better sleep.

Getting some activity outside can help you sleep better. How? Melatonin, which is necessary for sleep, can be regulated when sunlight enters the eye. Other benefits include helping to regulate body temperature and circadian rhythm.

Get a dose of Vitamin D.

Sunlight is a powerful energy source for the human body. Sunlight provides vital vitamin D, which is essential for bone strength. Americans spend most of their life indoors, which can cause vitamin D deficiency. This deficiency can lead to depression, cancer, and osteoporosis.

Of course, when you spend time in the sun, use appropriate sunscreen and face protection.

Improve the immune system.

Taking a walk among the trees (known as “forest therapy”) can boost our immune system. As we breathe, we benefit from the phytoncides released by trees. Infection-fighting T cells are strengthened by time in the sun.

Nature is good for overall health and happiness.

Besides vitamin D, improved focus, and better sleep, getting outside is important for living an overall, healthier life. Physically, activity outdoors can lower blood pressure, keep joints healthy, muscles limber and strengthen the heart. In other ways, it can enhance memory, inspire creativity, improve academic performance, and offer a longer life expectancy.

Part of a healthy life is a positive attitude and enjoying nature increases optimism. Nature can zap a lousy mood and negative thoughts as we appreciate the beauty of creation.

Sunlight and nature are central to good health. Take care of yourself by enjoying nature’s benefits as much as possible!

What is your favorite relaxing activity outside? Share in the comments! 

4 responses to “Why Spending Time Outdoors is Essential for Self-Care”

  1. Until it got too hot to do so, I was taking the dog and sitting under a tree every evening. Now, 6 p.m. rolls around and he comes and puts his head on my knee, nudging me because he doesn't care that it's 112 degrees out there. So instead of sitting, we go for a walk. Still enjoying the outdoors. This post is amazing. Thank you for sharing!

  2. We love the outdoors and enjoy taking hikes with Lia. She would rather be outdoors than indoors! Our favorite is going on a scavenger hunt while hiking. It's fun and educational as well!

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