Are you looking for something to cheer you up this summer? It seems simple, but many people feel better—happier, more energetic, and with a more positive outlook—when they spend time outside. Everyone should all take advantage of the warm summer weather and enjoy being outdoors. It’s an easy and affordable way to be active and improve your mental health. There are many reasons why being in nature is great for your health…
Vitamin D improves your mood – It’s important to get your “vitamin D fix.” You can easily get the vitamin D you need by being in the sunlight. Your body produces vitamin D from sunlight, which in turn boosts your mood. Research shows that even a little sun exposure increases the amount of serotonin (the happy chemical!) in your brain. A lack of vitamin D can lead to symptoms of depression and is one of the leading causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Being active enhances your mental health — Have you ever gone for a walk or run after a hectic day and felt better afterwards? Research shows that exercise benefits your physical and mental health. While you’re outside, consider taking a walk, riding a bike, going swimming—anything that gets you moving. You’ll feel more relaxed after exercising outdoors.
Nature has calming effects – There's a strong connection between nature and good mental health. The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment recently published a study that points to higher incidents of anxiety disorders (20% higher) and mood disorders (40% higher) in city dwellers where there is a lack of green-space, compared people in rural areas. Brain scans show that walking in nature decreases neural activity in the brain that is typically active during rumination—repetitive negative thinking. Scientific research support the idea that being in nature helps to calm your mind and regulate your emotions.
So, if you are feeling down, anxious or just plain overwhelmed, get outside! Go out in the sunlight, surround yourself with flowers and trees, take a deep breath of fresh air and keep your body moving. Doing this regularly can lead to overall improved mental health and well-being. Plus, it’s free and always accessible!