Monday Whazzup – How Being Outside in Nature Can Help with Stress and Improve Mental and Physical HealthGreen Ideas — By Shawna Coronado on November 3, 2008 9:08 am
Being outside in nature is a joy. It energizes we humans by increasing the flow of the essential brain chemical, serotonin, and it grounds us with a sense of restoration and healing. Being “green” means so many different things, but it is far more than recycling and watching our carbon footprint. One of the most important keys to being green is exposing yourself and your family to nature and the outdoors.
Being outdoors is also a great way to relieve stress. For example, exposure to the outside world in middle of a stressful work day revitalizes the mind. Taking a break out of doors means a fresh breath, a bit of exercise, and we can easily return to conquer the corporate world. To confirm this thought, Dr. Richard O’Connor author of Undoing Perpetual Stress (www.undoingdepression.com), writes “It [nature] makes us feel more real – grounded, substantial. It quiets the noise in the head. It makes us part of a common humanity.”
Photo of an early fall Prairie Sunflower at Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory, in Illinois.
This summer and fall my children and I have spent many hours on a bike path that leads into the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory prairie. Within a short walk from my home, I can see prairie, lakes, forest and wildlife of all kinds. Thirty minutes – a lunch hour – spent walking in a prairie will do miracles for your mental health and is good physical activity as well. I often stop and get up close to the wildflowers and nature around me – there’s something humbling and beautiful about a close-up view of a prairie flower.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a prairie within walking distance; but it is easy to accomplish a similar feeling by simply being exposed to the sky and clouds. If you are out running errands, park as far from a store entrance as possible and walk for a few minutes taking deep breaths and looking at the sky and trees. Even in a parking lot, exposure to the outdoors brings a special kind of relief.
This special type of greening – exposing our family and ourselves to nature – is what we should all be practicing every day to relieve stress and enhance our mental health.
Get outside and live green – make a difference in the way you feel every day!
Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!