Our days can be full of hustle and bustle, from long hours at the office to shuttling kids around all evening. It’s easy to see why stress can increase as our free time decreases. While we can’t always control the stress that comes our way, we can work to manage it better. Spending time outside is a beneficial strategy for stress management. Studies have shown that time spent in nature, even just a few minutes, can positively impact the body and mind in many different ways.

Lift Your Mood

Vitamin D is certainly important for maintaining strong bones, but did you know that recent studies have found it to help improve mood? According to Healthline, research has shown that Vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and decreasing the risk of depression. If you need a little lift in your mood, try spending a few minutes outside on a sunny day and soak up some Vitamin D.

Lower Stressful and Anxious Feelings

The great outdoors can positively impact mental health. It offers a break from our daily routines where we can focus on the calming and serene aspects of nature (The American Institute of Stress). The next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, step outside and try the 5-4-3-2-1 Mindfulness Exercise. Take a deep breath in through your nose, slowly exhale through your mouth, and then find five things around you that you can see. Next, find four things near you that you can touch, followed by three things you can hear. Then, find two things that you can smell. And finally, think about one thing you can taste. This can be a great exercise to bring your thoughts to the present moment.

Change Your Perspective

Our daily grind can feel overwhelming as we dwell on past situations or future worries. Taking a moment to enjoy the outdoors is a great way to unplug. Nature can encourage us to change our perspective and be inspired by things we see and hear. It can help shift our focus to more possibilities rather than fixating on the stress at hand. Think of your time spent outdoors as a useful tool for managing stress.

Get Moving

Walking around the block or hiking through nature are great ways to promote good circulation and increase the production of endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that act as a natural painkiller for the body and promote positive feelings. Exercise also helps lower the body’s production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Outdoor activity can be a win-win for managing stress.

If you’re noticing symptoms of your stress that are worsening or will not go away, consider talking with a professional. Doctors, therapists, and counselors can all be part of a great support system as you find the best ways to manage stress and mental health.

Written by BWS Lead Health Coach- Kelly Schlather, BS, ASCM – CEP

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