Think about how much time you spend inside. You wake up (inside), get into your car, drive to work, probably go inside an office building, and probably stay there the bulk of your day before getting back inside your vehicle, driving home, and spending a night in. If this sounds eerily similar to your day-to-day, it’s not because I’m a physic. It’s because the vast majority of modern day Americans have found a way to avoid the outdoors as much as possible thanks to the luxuries we enjoy. Unless you have a job that gets you outside, you’re probably not making outdoor-time a priority. You could take your lunch to a nearby park, or you could take a walk after dinner, but Facebook or Netflix or even a good book usually calls our names louder than green space.
And yet, we love being outdoors (even those of us that would never be caught dead camping). At Just Be, we have the unique ability of transforming into an indoor-outdoor studio with the lift of a garage door, and students often clamor over one another to get their mat out on the deck. There’s an innate need to get some sunshine and some fresh air that we often don’t realize we have until we’re actually outdoors. I am, admittedly, not an “outdoorsy” person: I have never been camping. I don’t know how to make a fire or build a tent. And yet, I still make getting outside a priority. I go for a walk outdoors at least once a day- even if that means a lap around the block- and if I miss that part of my routine, I absolutely feel a difference in how my day goes. Mentally, enjoying nature is extremely soothing, and offers a great time to think or even meditate. Without time to ground myself using the outdoors, I often feel frazzled, sluggish, and stressed.
Prioritizing time in greenspace has also been linked to an improvement in SAD (Seasonally Affected Depression). This form of depression follows seasonal patterns of intensity, and those who find their depression is worse in winter months see great benefit from just being outdoors in the natural landscape. Even natural lighting has benefit- so keeping blinds or windows open is a great idea throughout the day.
Getting outside also has a multitude of health benefits outside of the mental. Outdoor hobbies such as hiking, jogging, or climbing promote cardiovascular and muscular health. Vitamin D, an essential nutrient for our bodies, is best absorbed through it’s natural supplier: the sun. Vitamin D aids in bone building, cell differentiation, immune function, and even hormone levels. All of these jobs are extremely important to optimal health, and if you’re not getting around 30 minutes of unfiltered sunlight in your day, you’re not reaping the benefits. Here’s the important part: Getting outside, even for a little bit, isn’t optional.
So take a walk. Get outside. Throw your yoga mat in the backyard and take your practice into the world. Challenge yourself to step outside the normal routine of moving from building to building and make spending time in green spaces a priority. You’ll see a world of difference.