Skip to main content

Short Version—-GO OUTSIDE

OK—-beach or mountains?  Best answer is BOTH.  Just get outside and here is why.  A few years ago researchers at the University of Essex in 2007 found that, of a group of people suffering from depression, 90 percent felt a higher level of self esteem after a walk through a country park, and almost three-quarters felt less depressed. Another survey by the same research team found that 94% of people with mental illnesses believed that contact with nature put them in a more positive mood.
 
Covid 19, and the social isolation that came with it, took a toll on all of us but it did have some positive upsides and one of them was many of us fell in love with nature again.  I love going places where I feel small and the beach and the mountains will do that for me, but so does the backyard.  You don’t have to go far to benefit from nature therapy, you really just have to get off the couch. 
 
I recently wrote about this form of therapy for my my good friends at Mountaineer Media and you can read that piece here:  https://www.mountaineermedia.org/blog/west-virginia-amp-mental-health

And I recently took my own advice to an extreme level and went to Glacier National Park in Montana, and as usual, I am real late to this ecotherapy party.  The park was packed, but we had a solution for beating the crowds—backpack in for three days.  I’ll post a picture below, but it will not do the park justice!  The place is amazing and I am hoping the mental health benefit derived from this trip lasts a while.  When it starts to fade, and it will, I will pack up the tent and get back out there for my booster shot. 

In nature, our minds process a lot less information than normal, and they don’t wear themselves out by concentrating.  Translation:  I do a lot of deep thinking on the trail, but it’s not taxing like “work thinking”.  It’s hard to explain, so just go take a hike.

There is no right or wrong way to spend time outdoors. After all, each activity provides you with all the benefits of the outdoors. However, if you don’t know where to start, here are some easy activities to get you outside.

  • Go for a walk or run.
  • Take a bike ride along a trail.
  • Go camping.
  • Take a hike.
  • Garden.
  • Move your workout outside.
  • Meditate or do yoga outside.
  • Have a picnic in the park.
  • Go for a swim.
  • Birdwatch.

And now for that picture.  Going old school with a black and white photo, and I took this at Glacier National Park in Montana.  Just looking at it can relax you.  Don’t believe me?  Read this https://www.sciencealert.com/just-looking-at-photos-of-nature-could-be-enough-to-lower-your-work-stress-levels  and then go outside!

#mentalhealth #suicideprevention #growth #nature