Mental Health and the Benefits of the Outdoors

The outdoors can do wonders for our mental health. But what does it actually mean? As part of Mental Health Awareness week, I am going to be touching on my thoughts about how the outdoors can affect our mental well being.

Talking about mental health is starting to become something that is more normal in everyday life, and that’s brilliant. There is a lot of information available to people now and more of us understand what mental wellness is and ways we can support those who struggle with it. Conversation is key to this topic to spread the awareness more and to be able to offer more support.

The focus for Mental Health Awareness week this year, is stress. We will all face stress at some point in our lives. Whether it may be at work, family life or personal struggles, it is something that ourselves or someone we know will be dealing with. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether your facing mental health struggles or a really stressful few weeks, we all need to learn to care for ourselves more.

Being someone who loves being outdoors

I am no expert on mental health and I will never claim to be. However, I am keen on getting people outside, I feel like the outdoors world can really help with bringing stress levels down. Just taking as little as 15 minutes sitting or walking around outside can make my mood feel lifted. Here are a few reasons why heading outside is good for our mental well being and what it can do for us.

I have looked at my reasons for spending time outside in my related blog post: Why I Spend Time Outdoors

Fresh Air

Next time you head out for a walk take a deep breath. Then slowly let it out. You’ll feel better for it. Just taking time to head outside can lower our blood pressure as well as get you some much-needed vitamin D and boot that immune system of yours. The fresh air can clear our minds too which leads nicely to my next point.

Refocus

The fresh air clears out our minds, then we can use that space to refocus the mind. Clear out some of the stresses and worries and start to look at the positives going on. It also gives you time to decide what your priorities are. One factor of stress is having too many things to focus on at once, by spending some time refocusing, making decisions on whats most important is easier and reduces stress. Refocusing can be the perfect chance to make that decision on what your next adventure is too!

Background of an Ordance Survey Dartmoor map with a photographing devon and cornwall book in the right hand corner, compass in the left hand corner and a Wild Guide for the south west UK at the bottom of the photo

Physical Fitness

If you are heading outside you are likely to be walking, cycling or running. I mean you could be rock climbing or white water rafting for all I know, that’s pretty cool, but for most of us heading out in the evenings are likely to be going for a walk. Not only are we working on our mental health, we are working on our physical health at the same time. Getting the blood flowing through our body, getting fitter each time we head for a walk.

Self-Esteem and Confidence

Being outdoors can really up my confidence in myself, and in turn, improve my belief and thoughts about myself. When I achieve a tough hike or do something I would not usually do, then I feel proud of that. I start to believe I can do more, push myself to try and see that I can do it. By spending time outside we can start to build confidence in ourselves as well as look at what we believe we are worth.

Creativity Boost

Many of you will have read my previous blog posts and it’s easy to say that they are mostly all about the outdoors. Whether its a new place I have visited, a hike completed or some new gear, it is likely to be related to being outside. I find all my inspiration to write from the beautiful places to explore. Just by spending 10 minutes outside looking around you can find inspiration to get those creative juices flowing!

Communication

You don’t have to spend time outdoors alone. One great thing is that you can find loads of opportunities to join groups doing various outdoor activities. There are walking groups, running clubs, climbing meetups, kayaking groups that meet on a regular basis. This can be a good opportunity to meet new people and communicate more. Some clubs have meets designed to get those dealing with mental health together and support each other.

Connection with Nature

The more time you spend outdoors, the more you will notice the nature around you change. You will watch it grow in the spring and summer, shed its leaves in the autumn and hide under snow in the winter. It’s great to start noticing all the little changes such as the variations in plants and wildlife that lives in your area. Connecting with nature helps your mind to feel relaxed.

So these are some of the reasons why our mental health can benefit from spending time outside. If you would like some more information on how nature helps your mental health, this link to the Mind website can help you; Mind Website – Nature Information

The mind website is a good resource for any information on mental health, so if you need any advice or support, please head to their website.

See you next time and happy adventuring!

Jo x

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8 Comments

  1. 20/05/2018 / 12:14 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this. Being outdoors is like magic. I will try letting out that long deep breath next time I go out. I think that is a great tip. I feel like I should go on more hikes too. It’s just rewarding to see what you can do. Like you say, it will boost your confidence.
    I always get great inspiration in spending time outdoors. A change of perspective that is often much needed. 🙂
    I think there are lots of benefits to take and you’ve described them beautifully!
    Love,
    Rose – http://www.rainbowsdreamcloud.com

    • Jo
      Author
      22/05/2018 / 1:46 pm

      I love that “being outdoors is like magic” 💚 It really is! It can benefit us in so many ways and I agree that it gives you a clear and new perspective on things going on. Thank you for reading and for your lovely comment!
      Jo x

  2. 21/05/2018 / 12:13 am

    You have some excellent points here. When I can get out, I enjoy fishing. It’s a great excuse to relax outside at least until you get a nibble 😀 .

    • Jo
      Author
      22/05/2018 / 1:47 pm

      There are some fishermen at our local reservoir and they do look like the most chilled and relaxed people in the world! I think it’s something I will have to try. Thank you for reading
      Jo x

  3. 25/05/2018 / 4:11 pm

    Getting outdoors does an absolute wonder on my mental health; I really suffer if I don’t get out. Great post, this!

    • Jo
      Author
      28/05/2018 / 5:41 pm

      It’s great to hear that being outdoors helps you! I think nature is such a powerful way to help our minds. Thank you for reading

      Jo x

  4. 27/05/2018 / 9:01 pm

    I LOVE this entry so much and definitely agree with every point you make. There’s a lot of things that the outdoors have to offer – the great view is just one of them!

    cabin twenty-four

    • Jo
      Author
      28/05/2018 / 5:43 pm

      Thank you so much! The outdoors can bring so much help and guidance to us and so many of us do not realise the power that it has! I quite agree the views are fab and there’s so much more we can use them for 🙂

      Jo x

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