Mental Health Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

Mental Health Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

Have you ever noticed that your mood tends to dip when it is dark and gloomy outside? Many people find that their mood and their emotions are tied to the weather, but they often don’t understand why.

Studies have shown that there are actually some significant mental health benefits to spending time outdoors – keep reading to learn more.

How Does Spending Time Outside Benefit Your Health?

There is nothing better than fresh air and sunshine, but you may not realize just how beneficial these things are for your mental and physical health. Here are some of the ways that spending time outdoors can boost your mood and your mental health:

  • Increased intake of Vitamin D. Also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D helps to protect your body against a variety of different diseases ranging from cancer to depression. Your body doesn’t actually absorb vitamin D from sunlight but the sunlight hitting your skin jump-starts a process through which your body produces vitamin D on its own.
  • Increased activity levels. Indoor living is associated with a sedentary lifestyle which is bad for your health, both mental and physical. While being outdoors is not necessarily a guarantee of activity, people who spend more time outdoors also tend to be more active.
  • Improved mood. Natural sunlight tends to elevate the mood and you’ll get more of that sunlight by being outside than by staying indoors. According to a 2010 study, spending as little as five minutes outdoors is enough to show improvements in both mood and self-esteem.
  • Improved concentration. If you tend to struggle with concentration and focus, taking a break for some sunshine might help. A study published in 2008 showed that children diagnosed with ADHD scored higher in tests of concentration after taking a walk through the park. The combination of natural light and exercise is likely responsible for these benefits.

In order to enjoy the mental health benefits of the great outdoors, you don’t even have to stay outside for very long. According to a recent study, just 15 minutes of natural sunlight is enough to reduce both depression and anxiety levels.

Additionally, that boost of Vitamin D that you get from sunlight will help you to sleep better at night and that is also good for your mental health. Here are some simple things you can do to get your daily dose of sunshine:

  • Take a five-minute break from work to soak up some sun.
  • Enjoy your lunch or dinner break in an outdoor area.
  • Go for a quick walk before or after work or during your lunch break.
  • Park a little further from the office so you can walk in the sun.
  • Go for a walk or a run outside instead of running on the treadmill at the gym.
  • Do some gardening or yard work over the weekend.
  • Take your kids or your dog to the park for some outdoor play time.

When it comes to their health and wellness, many people overlook the importance of mental health. If you want to support your own mental health, it may be as simple as getting outside once in a while.

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