How Spending Time In The Great Outdoors Can Help you De-stress

How Spending Time In The Great Outdoors Can Help you De-stress

USA- Most of us spend a lot of time inside clicking away at a computer and looking at our mobile devices than we do spending time outside. But if you are looking for ways to de-stress, you may want to leave the comforts of indoors and step out into nature. Spending time outdoors offers some amazing health benefits.

Jay Lee, M.D., a physician with Kaiser Permanente in Highlands Ranch, Colorado says being outdoors usually means being physically active, which in turn helps keep joints loose and can help cope with chronic pain and stiffness. 

When going outside for exercise; running, walking or biking, you won't be tempted to look at your mobile devices and that allows you to focus on yourself and what you’re doing, says Francis Neric, senior director of certification for the American College of Sports Medicine.

You will also be less susceptible to contracting a virus, because you will not breathing in the same recycled air in the office environment as everyone else. Lee says colds and flus happen in the winter because people are huddled indoors, where you’re more likely to be exposed to those viruses.

Aside from boosting your activity level, hanging out at a park, garden or amongst many trees is great for your mental wellbeing, too.  Irina Wen, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and clinical director of the Steven A. Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center says nature can be beneficial for mental health, it reduces cognitive fatigue and stress and can be helpful with depression and anxiety.

Research shows that spending time in the great outdoors or spending time in a well forested area can have many beneficial elements that can do wonders to your wellbeing. This may explain why this Japanese trend is catching on this current melting pot.

A 2010 study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, found that participants who walked in a forest for example a trail or park, had lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) than those who strolled through a city environment.

Hope Parks, the wellness manager at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, manages the resort’s three-year-old Deep Healing Woods program. It was inspired by the trending traditional forest bathing, or Shirin-Yoku. Visitors can sign up for a hike, run or yoga or meditation session, which you do solo and last 90 minutes.

Park says they focus on allowing nature to awaken their senses. When you take a walk or hike through the woods there without any technological distractions, since service is not quite fully available you are more likely to take in all the beautiful sights and smells that nature has to offer around you.  She also adds, that if you close your eyes, you can hear creeks more deeply.

The Blackberry Farm property sits on 4,200 acres of land in the Great Smoky Mountains, this makes it the perfect location to find some Tranquility. Park says, 90 minutes later, she has noticed people’s shoulders have lowered away from their ears, and they are visibly relaxed.

Julia Goren, education director for the Adirondack Mountain Club, tried her hand at spending time in the great outdoors back in December with colleagues. She says she felt extremely calm and at peace.  Goren says they took a quiet stroll while they listened to the sounds of the breeze through the fir trees, crackling of the trees and the sounds of ravens croacking.

Goren says that focusing on staying silent helped her feel part of the great outdoors, she said she felt more focused and relaxed after her silent walks were over.

The great outdoors are not the only place you can go venture to any outdoor space filled with nature will do the trick. Always make sure you are fully prepared before venturing outdoors or a forest area by yourself. 

1. Be aware of your habitiat. Planning to venture on your own? Safety is Key. Neric says know your environment and let someone know where you’re going.  

2. Protect your skin and body from the elements. Lee says while the benefits of vitamin D is what we are looking for, it does increase the risk of skin cancer, so applying sunscreen and wearing a hat is important. Neric says you can also apply bug spray and wear long sleeves depending on the climate. And if you decide to venture out in the cold, wearing layers and protecting yourself from the wind, rain and snow will be very important.

3. Protecting your feet.  Physical activity will bring you many health benefits, however this could mean you may be sore a fter a long walk or hike without the proper footwear.  Lee says it is important to have the right gear and to wear comfortable footwear. Not only will this improve the enjoyment of your physical activity but will also decrease your chance of mucular pain.

4. Make sure you are hydrated. Always have a water botter handy! Lee says it’s often difficult to know whether you are drinking enough water.  You're urine should be clear, not dark yellow, this maybe a sign that you need to hydrate better.

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