Five mindful reasons to get outdoors this Summer.
It’s fair to say we’d all like to find the right balance between city life and being able to plug back into a simpler life. There’s no better fix to life-in-the-fast-lane than being outdoors. Nature gives generously at any time of year, but especially in Summer. Being outside is an antidote to our busy schedules. According to YoungMinds, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years, while science has shown clear links between stress and diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and depression. The benefits of being outdoors has been backed up by research proving that time with nature is essential to our psychological health and general wellbeing. Getting outdoors offers us a calmer headspace. By disconnecting, you reconnect a productive state of mind, refocussing your problems and allowing yourself to see solutions from a different perspective.
For the first edition of the parlez journal, we’re looking at five mindful reasons to get outdoors this summer. The small act of being kind to yourself has a big impact on your life, and the people around you. Put your devices away and make time to connect with nature, your friends, family, and, most importantly, yourself.
When someone tells you to “get some fresh air” it’s sometimes a polite way of saying “go play in the traffic”. As it turns out, fresh air is good for digestion, it improves blood pressure alongside our heart rate, and makes us feel happier due to increased levels of serotonin. People today spend up to twenty five percent less time enjoying nature than we did twenty years ago. Our physical environment influences us in ways we’re not always aware of and getting outdoors improves our headspace, rejuvenates our bodies and restores our spirits.
2. Sleep Easy.
Poor sleep is often caused by bad sleep patterns. We all have an internal body clock that regulates sleep, and that clock is tied directly to the sun’s schedule. Spending too much time inside, away from natural daylight and with increased exposure to artificial light from screens has been proven to disrupt a decent night’s sleep. Getting outside is a simple remedy for our ever-consuming digital life. Recalibrate your sleep cycle by getting a few days outside and help that body clock of yours keep good time.
3. Mind Food.
During our early teens, while we’re still growing, our brain develops four qualities that are a gift and, at the same time, a challenge to maintain as we get older. Novelty seeking, social engagement, increased emotional connection and creativity are all things that we learn naturally when we’re small, but they need to be practised as adults if we want to keep vitality in our lives. Being outdoors allows our mind to stay engaged with nature and gives us the fuel we need to stay inspired by life.
4. Stay Active.
It’s hard to get outside without involving some form of exercise. Even a light walk has clear health benefits, especially compared to sitting down, which has been compared to the smoking of our generation. We spend, on average, fourteen hours a day sitting which results in reduced fat burning capabilities and increased blood pressure. Exercise can help prevent or reduce the chances of heart disease, obesity, back pain, and improve wellbeing. If you want to live longer, get outdoors.
Urban environments have been proven to increase levels of anxiety, sadness, and helplessness. This can elevate your blood pressure, heart rate, and suppress a healthy immune system. A pleasant environment reverses that. Spending time outdoors improves our attention span (short and long term), boosts serotonin (the feel-good factor) and increases activity in the parts of the brain responsible for empathy, emotional stability, and love.
Try spending more time in the moment and leave the smartphone at home. Since the turn of the millennium, the rate of non-screen playtime has fallen twenty percent, while the rate of screen-time has increased by a similar amount. This isn’t inherently bad, but research shows that it’s taking a human toll. If you need a nudge in the right direction, download the App ‘Moment’. It tracks your daily device time by tallying how long you use your phone each day. It’s a scary fact that most people spend between one and four hours on their phone every day, for some it’s longer. By putting time aside for being outdoors, you can claim back screen-time. If the type of job you do doesn’t allow much time outside in the week, try using your weekends to have a break and refocus on what matters. To help get you going, we’ve put together a list of helpful links about outdoor activities in and around Lewisham.
See you next time.