Although August is the hottest month of the year, it is so important to get outside and soak in the fresh summer air before the fall breeze begins to set in. In fact, August is National Wellness month and August 7th is National Play Outside Day! These are two great reasons to motivate yourself and encourage someone else to take advantage of the psychological benefits of being in nature. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 90% of their life indoors. That only leaves a small 10% to be spent outdoors.
Spending time outdoors has been shown to help improve mood, physical health, confidence, and self-esteem. Nature has also had the positive effects of reducing feelings of stress and anger as well as increase feelings of relaxations and tranquility. Nature therapy, also called Ecotherapy, is a form of therapeutic treatment that involves nature and the outdoors as a way to improve mental health. Individuals who engage in this kind of therapy will focus on outdoor activities that involve exploring and appreciating the natural world. Nature therapy is based on the idea that humans have a deep connection with the environment and the earth itself. It encourages individuals to be more mindful and detach from the stressors of everyday life. Although nature therapy is not an evidence-based approach (yet), there is still a decent amount of research that supports improved well-being for individuals struggling with PTSD, anxiety, and moderate depression.
Here are some ways you could make the most of the 10% of the time you spend outside:
- Gardening or farming (individually or within a community)
- Wilderness/ nature walks
- Outdoor meditation and yoga
- Other outdoor exercise
- Conservation efforts
- Trash removal
- Take regular activities outside (reading, work from home, eating, arts & crafts, hobbies)
- Go for a bicycle ride
- Spend the day at a lake nearby
- Visit a local park
With more and more people getting vaccinated, it is becoming safer to do the activities we have all missed out on for the last year and a half. Take advantage of that, go out and make up for lost time! However, please keep in mind that the Covid-19 virus is still a threat, and it is important to follow the CDC guidelines to the best of your ability. Stay well, stay safe, and enjoy some fresh air!
By Victoria Reid, Intern