Going outside isn’t exclusive to kids. The days are getting warmer and longer, and the heat of the sun is the perfect reminder to venture outside. That goes for all of us. Life can already be stressful, yet according to the World Health Organization, the pandemic brought with it a 25 percent increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. This is likely a result of being isolated and stuck indoors, which is known to provoke symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Some might say it’s a wake-up call to the crucial role that mental health plays in our daily lives. For many of us, there’s a renewed sense of appreciation for nature and the peace that it brings. And while that may be true, the statistics say that the average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors. This makes it even more imperative to set intentions to get outside at least once a day and let nature do its job.
If you struggle with severe anxiety, depression, or any poor mental health symptoms that make it difficult to function in your daily life, the team at Dr. Messina & Associates are here to help you find your way.
Getting in contact with nature is like a deep exhale for your body and mind. As human beings, our bodies have evolved in natural environments, so being outside is like a physiological reset, promoting less stress, lower blood pressure, and lower heart rate. Go outside and let the tension fall away.
Some days are long and leave us feeling like a caged animal. We’re irritable, moody, and the walls feel like they’re closing in. Spending time outside is a natural mood stabilizer. Natural sunlight triggers vitamin D production and increases production of serotonin, known as the happy chemical. Just 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure is enough to reap the benefits of it. Not only will you be left in a better mood, but you’ll also end up with higher quality sleep.
Do you often find your thoughts racing through your mind, making it impossible to focus? You aren’t the only one. Living through quarantine and isolation left many of us restless and anxiety ridden. Being indoors all-day is fuel for anxious thoughts and irritability. When you find yourself stuck in your head, give yourself a 10-minute walk outside to get the blood flowing through the rest of your body and watch as your mind relaxes.
Many of us hide away at home when we’re sick in an attempt to feel better. What if this has the opposite effect on our wellbeing? A famous study found that patients who were assigned rooms with windows overlooking natural scenery had shorter post-op stays and received less pain relievers. That’s because exposure to nature is linked to a stronger immune system.
Do you find it hard to put down the phone or struggle with completing daily tasks? The rise of technology has had a considerable impact on our attention spans. The amount of time you spend on your phone is also linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. It might seem like a hopeless situation when technology plays such an important role in our lives, but there are ways to offset the effects. Going outside is linked to better brain function – improving memory and our ability to focus. Small outdoor screen breaks are a healthy way to bring your mind back into focus and leads to better decisions throughout your day.
Green leaves and bright blue skies are nature’s caffeine. Many people even claim that it’s easier to exercise outside. There’s a reason those bikers are always so cheery. Feet dragging the floor? Grab your shoes and take a walk around the block to get your blood flowing and fresh air in your lungs.
If you find it difficult to get yourself outside or struggle with anxiety over the outdoors, it’s important to pace yourself. Fortunately, a little goes a long way, and small changes reap the biggest results. The goal is to feel healthier, so make sure to choose outdoor spaces that make you feel safe. Most of all, be willing to try. Here are just a few ways to start spending more time in nature.
Nature comes in many forms and as long as you’re beyond 4 walls and there’s some greenery nearby, you’ll receive the host of benefits that nature provides and your mental health with thank you for the effort. It’s okay if you don’t live within walking distance to your nearest forest – it can be as simple as creating a cozy outdoor living space that feels like a home away from home. Sunlight and fresh air encourage creativity, so I’m confident you’ll think of something.
If your mental health is severely struggling, do not hesitate to reach out for help. Your health and wellness are our top priority.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.