Taking control of your health requires a commitment to adequate sleep, regular exercise, healthy meals and quality time with your loved ones. With only 24 hours in a day, how can you find the time to do it all and get outside and enjoy Mother Nature?
With the average employee working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, many set goals to take 30-minute breaks outdoors. Unfortunately, those good intentions are often brushed aside to get ahead of or catch up on a never-ending workload. While there's no Wi-Fi in nature, you’ll find a better connection to your mental and physical health.
Headspace in green space
Exposure to the great outdoors provides impressive mental health benefits, according to Jeffry Jacqmein, MD, a family physician with Baptist Primary Care. Spending time outside has shown improvements in:
- Short-term memory
- Physical and emotional energy
“Research has shown nature can improve one’s mood, self-esteem and subjective well-being, especially those with seasonal affective disorder,” said Dr. Jacqmein “Not to mention, a reduction in anger, mental distress and negative emotions.”
Additionally, research has shown that spending time outdoors results in improved impulse control, academic performance and increased happiness in children.
The grass is greener
In modern-day work and home environments, people are exposed to many different stimuli, like flashing screens, ringing phones, pinging alerts and more. This overstimulation competes with already-limited attention spans and can raise stress levels.
Many people feel the almost immediate impact of stress melting away as they soak in the outdoor environment and scenery. In nature, many calming sights, sounds and smells can hold your attention without increasing your stress level. This outdoor therapy can be beneficial in treating anxiety, depression and high blood pressure (hypertension).
“I encourage my patients to sit, walk, read, eat, talk, study and meet outdoors every chance they get,” said Dr. Jacqmein. “Going outside is worth the effort.”
“I find that spending even brief amounts of time outdoors in the fresh air can be a key treatment strategy to help avoid and treat a variety of disorders including diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer's,” said Dr. Jacqmein.
Recharge your battery
“Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels has been shown to help prevent a number of cancers, protect bone health and fortify the immune system,” said Dr. Jacqmein.
Additionally, the sun can reinforce your body’s natural circadian rhythm and significantly increase quality of sleep across the board.
“It’s important to recognize that time away from your screen will help you recharge before you reconnect with work or everyday communications,” said Dr. Jacqmein. “There’s evidence that even brief outdoor exposure can help combat computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain.”
Spending time outdoors can not only boost your physical and emotional wellness but also strengthen your bond with Mother Nature. If you don’t know where to start, you can make an appointment with a Baptist Primary Care physician near you by calling 904.202.4YOU. Your doctor can help guide you in ways to implement nature into your everyday activities to reap the health benefits of the outdoors.