Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. A stroll in the park, a sunbathe in the garden, a trip to the seaside. Yet, we as a society can easily overlook these little pleasures in life at times as we set our sights on the newest phone, the bigger house or the better car. Materialism has blinkered us from, in some respects, the value of simplicity, in nature, for example.
And that’s what I’ve been thankful for in these last two years. Not the fact that the car has 4-wheel drive or my phone has the highest definition camera possible so that every pore in our faces can be seen (and then hidden by filters). But that I have the freedom to go outdoors and enjoy a walk in the park, nearby nature reserve or the coast. In knowing that free things can give me an even better buzz than receiving a new microwave from Amazon. (OK that doesn’t tickle my pickle either, but you see what I’m saying).
Let me preface this by outlining that I’m not the type of person to encourage all of mankind to sit in circles under cherry blossom trees braiding each others hair and singing ‘ Kumbaya’. But there is something to be said about the influence of being outdoors in a natural setting has on our overall well-being. it’s taken the dire situation we’ve all faced these last two years for me to wake up and literally ‘see the wood for the trees’. Perhaps I was in my own ‘concrete jungle bubble’ and never really saw the benefit or furthermore the necessity of being outside frequently. Sure I’d pop out to the nearby park for a picnic with friends but you wouldn’t find me eating trail mix on the forest hike at weekends all that often to be honest. Fast forward two years and it’s changed. I’m not saying I’ve calves of steel now from mountaineering or that i’m one of the ‘gym bunnies’ but….. I do feel different. I feel better.
I feel healthier not just physically but mentally too. Before I’d say to myself ‘I don’t have time to go out at lunch as I’ve got too much work to do.’ Whereas now, I’m like a dog that got the zoomed and I’m practically running the walls to get outside by the time 1pm strikes.
So why am I saying all this? Do I just want to gloat about how good I am at getting my 20,000 (-subtract 15,000) steps in daily? Of course not (yes), it’s just something that I’ve realised which has helped me a lot and which may be beneficial to you too if you feel stressed, fatigued, unhealthy…. This attitude that it is still possible to see the silver lining in the mushroom cloud albeit faintly.
So why not try to take a break from the desk at lunchtime to go outside to the local park? And if already do this or similar, good for your, your brain and body will thank you in the long run no doubt!
Some interesting fact regards being outdoors and well-being:
– A Helpful Healer: Research has shown that patients who spent more time outdoors during their recovery in hospital needed less painkillers, experienced fewer complications and had shorter hospital stays.
–Mood Boosting: In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced.
– Mortality Moderator: In a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, time in front of a screen was associated with a higher risk of death, and that was independent of physical activity!
– Improved Focus: Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.