Two people on a paddle board, cruising along a rocky coast.

The Outdoors Can Change Your Mind

How getting outside improves your mental health

It's no secret that spending time in nature is good for you. But did you know that it can actually change your mind? We’ll explore the science behind the benefits of spending time in nature, and provide some tips for getting outside more often. 

It’s been shown that spending just a few minutes a day in nature can have immense benefits to your health and well-being. One of the easiest ways to improve your mental health is to ensure you make a point to get out into nature as often as possible. It doesn’t always have to be a long or expensive expedition either. Just setting aside ten minutes a day to feel the sun on your face or the grass underneath your feet has been proven to have health benefits that extend well beyond what you might think.

The Benefits of Spending Time Outside

  • Reduce Your Stress: Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress levels by up to 30%. This is likely due to the fact that nature provides a calming and relaxing environment that helps to reduce the production of stress hormones.

  • Improves Mood: Spending time in nature can also improve mood. Studies have shown that people who spend more time outdoors are more likely to report feeling happy and relaxed. Nature provides a sense of peace and tranquility that can help to reduce anxiety and depression.

  • Boosts Creativity: Spending time in nature can also boost creativity. Studies have shown that people who spend time in nature are more likely to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems. Nature has been proven to provide a stimulating environment that helps to break up our usual thought patterns.

  • Improves Focus: Spending time in nature can also improve focus. Studies have shown that people who spend time in nature are more likely to be able to focus on tasks and avoid distractions. This is due to nature providing a quiet and peaceful environment that helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Woman throwing a frisbee on a sunny day
  • Improves Sleep: Spending time in nature can also improve sleep. Studies have shown that people who spend time outdoors are more likely to get a good night's sleep. We know nature provides a calming and relaxing environment that helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Group playing beach volleyball on a sunny day

Tips for Getting Outside More Often:

  • Make It a Habit: The best way to get outside more often is to make it a habit. Start by setting aside some time each day to go for a walk, hike, or bike ride.

  • Find a Nature Trail: If you don't have access to a lot of green space, find a nature trail near you. Nature trails are a great way to get outside and enjoy the benefits of nature without having to travel far.

  • Bring a Friend: Getting outside is more fun with friends. Invite a friend or family member to join you on your next outdoor adventure.

  • Get Creative: There are endless ways to enjoy nature. If you're feeling bored, try something new like birdwatching, hiking, or camping.

How to Find Nature In Unexpected Places

It’s no secret that access to the outdoors is often tougher in big cities, and that lack of easy access makes it harder to find ways to spend time outside. But as studies have shown, even sitting on a park bench or finding a sunny spot on the sidewalk can be enough to help you reset your brain and start feeling better. Here are a few more unexpected ways to feel more connected to nature.

  • Grounding is a relatively new and un-researched topic, but has anecdotally been shown to help improve inflammation, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, and mood. Types of grounding include walking barefoot, lying on the ground, and submerging in water. It’s believed that just by touching and relating more directly to nature, you can feel calmer and more at peace.
  • Forest Bathing or “shinrin-yoku” in Japanese, is a practice that involves immersing yourself in the atmosphere of a forest. Forest Bathing isn’t about exercise or intense physical activity, but instead focuses on trying to be mindful when connecting with nature through our senses. Some ways you can Forest Bathe include taking slow walks, while paying special attention to the sounds, scents, and textures of the forest.

  • Meditation can be a great way to feel closer to nature. Just find a comfortable spot to sit like a bench or blanket and focus on your breathing. Pretty soon the calming sounds of wind rustling through trees and the birds chirping will help relieve stress and relax your mind. Best of all, you can meditate anywhere you’re able to sit and close your eyes for a few minutes.

Get Out There

It doesn’t matter how you choose to get outside or even how long you spend in nature, just making the effort to find a green space or seek out a quiet place by the water can be enough to start seeing a marked improvement in your mental health.

Biker riding down a trail on a sunny day