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8 Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

The nonstop demands of work, family life, social media, and our increasingly insular modern routines can leave us feeling drained, overwhelmed, and disconnected. Luckily, there’s an easy, affordable, and effective way to give your mental health a boost: simply challenge yourself to spend more time outdoors. 

8 Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

Whether you go for a walk, have a picnic in the park, work in your garden, or enjoy a beautiful sunset, getting out into nature has been shown to provide all sorts of mental health benefits. Here, our team of behavioral health professionals shares some important reasons to explore the great outdoors.

  1. Spending Time Outdoors Helps Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Perhaps it’s the soothing sounds of birds chirping or leaves rustling in the breeze. Maybe it’s the simple act of getting away from the frantic pace of an urban environment. Whatever the reason, a systematic review of real-time non-laboratory studies published in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that outdoor environments, especially those with green space, can reduce the experience of stress, as evidenced by heart rate, blood pressure, and self-reported measures.

  1. Spending Time Outdoors Makes You Happier

While being outside can provide immediate feelings of relaxation, its mood-boosting benefits appear to build up over time. Spending just 20 to 30 minutes outside a few times a week can significantly improve symptoms of depression, sadness, and low mood. The pleasing sights, sounds, and smells of nature all seem to contribute to this uplifting effect, as seen in a narrative review published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine that found nature walks, as an intervention for anxiety and depression, show significant mental health benefits confirmed by experiments reporting quantitative data within groups (pre- and post-test) and between groups (experimental vs. control group).

  1. Spending Time Outdoors Makes It Easier to Focus

If you often find your mind wandering or struggling to stay on task, the great outdoors may be able to help. Spending time in natural environments has been shown to restore the ability to focus and concentrate. It allows your brain’s cognitive resources a chance to rest and replenish, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to be productive again.  

  1. Spending Time Outdoors Promotes Better Sleep

Poor sleep quality is a well-known risk factor for mental health issues. Exposure to natural light helps keep your circadian rhythm in sync, which regulates healthy sleep patterns. If you spend your outdoor time exercising, the benefits increase even more. 

  1. Spending Time Outdoors Sparks Creativity and Inspiration

The sights, smells, and sounds of nature can open up the mind, allowing inspiration and creativity to flow more freely. Some of history’s greatest thinkers and artists have spoken about how getting outside and connecting with nature was invaluable for inspiring their work. For example, Claude Monet, one of the founders of the French impressionist movement, was known for his landscape paintings. He said, “The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.”

  1. Spending Time Outdoors Provides Vitamin D

One of the simplest health benefits we get from outdoor time is the chance to soak up some Vitamin D from sunlight exposure. Most people know that Vitamin D is crucial for immune function and bone health, but many don’t understand that low Vitamin D levels can lead to increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it synthesizes Vitamin D3, which is then converted into its active form in the body more efficiently than when it’s ingested from food or supplements. This process is natural and can help maintain Vitamin D levels effectively.

  1. Spending Time Outdoors Gives You a Fresh Perspective

The vastness, stillness, and tranquility of nature remind us that we’re just small parts of a much larger world—a profound perspective shift that can be extremely grounding when modern life starts to feel a bit overwhelming. Journaling outdoors can be one way to further explore this shift in viewpoint. 

  1. Spending Time Outdoors Encourages Mindfulness

A nature walking meditation combines the benefits of walking meditation with using your senses to be fully present in your natural surroundings. As you walk, pay attention to the sensations in your body, the feeling of your feet touching the ground, and the temperature of the air. Take deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, syncing your breathing with your steps if possible. Notice the environment around you—the trees, the sky, the plants, etc. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to your senses—what you can see, hear, smell, and feel at that exact moment.

Get the Support You Need to Manage Your Mental Health

Getting outside is one of the simplest yet most powerful ways to relieve stress, anxiety, and low mood while boosting resilience, focus, and overall well-being. That said, getting outdoors isn’t a substitute for proper treatment if you’re dealing with a serious mental health diagnosisAt Eagle View Behavioral Health, we provide a full continuum of care for clients who have been diagnosed with conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, or suicidal thoughts. Contact us today to learn more about the mental health treatment programs and services we provide in Bettendorf, Iowa.

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