There’s nothing like time spent outside to soothe your soul and make your heart sing. Whatever the weather. And it’s not just hearsay. Studies have proved that even a short stroll through the woods is beneficial to your mental and physical health, can lower blood pressure and increase endorphin levels.
Exposure to natural daylight on your skin also boosts your vitamin D intake, which is not only important for supporting your immune system and keeping bones strong, but vitally, for giving you energy. As lockdown has lingered here in the UK, and winter has seemed interminable, many people have reported low moods, sleep issues, muscle fatigue and lack of energy. Although there are a multitude of contributing factors towards this worrying trend, lack of vitamin D plays a crucial part.
But how long do you really need leave the house for?
Scientific Reports posted a recent article revealing the results of research conducted on 20,000 Brits, to determine the optimum amount of time spent in nature to yield benefits.
And it’s great news!
We can all enrich our daily lives and improve our wellbeing – today! Minimum effort required!
All it takes is 120 per minutes per week. That’s right – just two hours spent in fresh air, surrounded by trees, water, grass, open skies, birds, the breeze and the scent of the great outdoors.
Matthew White, lead author of the report and environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter, spoke about his team’s findings in Psychology Today. “What was really interesting for us was that it doesn’t have to be a two-hour slot. It can be accumulated bits of 30 minutes if you can fit that in your week. Or if you’re really busy and you can only go at the weekend, then two one-hour slots or a two-hour slot seem to be just as effective.”
White is also eager to point out that the gains didn’t just come to those who climbed mountains and ran long distances. Sitting on a park bench for a short time, or pottering in the garden also had the same effect. What matters most, is the duration and the situation.
He said: “When we’ve put people in natural environments, it decreases heart rate, decreases blood pressure, decreases cortisol and improves psychological well-being.”
So what will you do today to improve your mood? Here are four ideas to get you started.
Try a barefoot walk
If you’ve never done this before, you’re in for a treat! Head to your favourite beauty spot, pull off your shoes and socks, and take a stroll. Absolute heaven.
Go for a paddle
Dip your toes in the water by the sea, at a local lake or a nearby river. Concentrate on the cold.
Prepare a picnic
This could be part of a nature ramble in the woods, or as simple as throwing down a blanket in your back garden. Wrap up warm and eat outside.
Count the clouds
Find yourself a patch of grass, ideally in a peaceful location. Lie down, look up, and count the clouds. You more creative types may wish to look for shapes and faces within them. But keep looking up. Aaaaaaand breathe…
And as an alternative mood and energy booster, try Clear O2 supplemental oxygen – guaranteed to help beat fatigue.