The modern day approach to anxiety and depression has forgotten the most natural and pure medicine to relieving these everyday feelings: getting outside. Choosing profits over people has lead the pharmaceutical industry to push for the use of man-made medicines over prescribing what is free and accessible to all. The popular emergence of natural medicine has been aided by numerous independent studies with emphasis on active lifestyles and how these practices can help improve your overall happiness. From jogging around your neighborhood to rock climbing with friends, getting outside has proven over and over again the benefits of nature and how it can change your life.
Let’s start by stepping outside. Take a deep breath...exhale. Do you feel a warm and welcoming presence throughout your body? That’s the feeling of relaxation. When we breathe deep into our lungs, we are working the lower lung function and supplying our blood with adequate oxygen given to us by surrounding plants and trees. Could this inherent connection with the Earth be part of the reason the color green has a calming effect on our psychical, emotional and spiritual bodies? Take it from the scientists that were featured in the “Green is Good For You” (2001) cover story by the American Psychological Association (APA). According to the Kaplans' research on restoring mental clarity, workers who had just a glimpse of nature from their windows reported higher overall satisfaction in the workplace than those who didn’t. Children with ADHD showed heightened attention spans after being exposed to a green setting - indoors or outdoors. Hospital records reported faster recovery times from various patients when their windows overlooked a dense green space. The color of your heart chakra? Green! The effects of incorporating more green into your life are continually improving and contrasting the conventional way of how we interact with the world around us. Let’s discover the possibilities of what we can do by getting outside with ourselves, our friends and our families.
How many mornings have you woken up and scrolled through Instagram for hours only to find yourself rushing off to class or work feeling overwhelmed? We’ve all been there. The bed is always so comfortable, you are immediately connected to your friends and the outside world right from your cozy sheets. How many mornings have you went for a brisk morning walk (after coffee, obviously) only to find that your morning went much smoother than others?
Starting your day off with light to moderate exercise has been shown to provide the same stress-reducing effects as antidepressants. Not only do the endorphins from exercise stimulate the same receptors as your typical selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication, exercise also provides us with the opportunity to be alone with our thoughts and face our anxieties head on. When you are facing anxious feelings with the “feelin’ good” attitude from a brisk walk, you are more likely to overcome those feelings than get lost in them. Give yourself enough time for a high protein breakfast before leaving and you are setting yourself up for dealing with life with grace and ease.
If you are like many urbanites who want to grow their own food and feel reconnected with the Earth, look up your local community gardens. Community gardens have increased in popularity as the fight against genetically modified foods and Monsanto began to rise. Community gardens are an excellent way to experience getting outside with friends and neighbors alike to produce locally sourced, organic foods. Participating in a community garden ties us back in with the “Green is Good” idea we talked about earlier. Allowing yourself into this type of green space promotes elated feelings of wellbeing within yourself and your community. Never planted a thing in your life? Grab some friends and head over to the gardens to explore the upcoming workshops for a little interactive learning and hands-on experience. With a few flicks of the finger, you can upload a schedule and decide on the best times to get down and dirty in the soil while simultaneously taking in some self-soothing oxygen. Community gardens are a great way to escape the noise of everyday life and come inward to the peace that resides within yourself and the world around you.
Community-based activities have been proven to help unwind the nerves and create a sense of belonging amongst your peers. Knowing this, why not get out of the house with some friends and head out to a body of water in your area? The summer is coming to a close for most of us (unless you live in the desert) so we need to soak up that vitamin D now! If you and your friends have been talking about that beautiful swimming hole on IG, now's the time to go. Similar to the pacifying effects of the color green, blue space has made it’s appearance in the world of natural healing as a piece to the puzzle for improved overall well-being. Consider the adventure a two-for-one experience if you have to walk through the woods to reach your aquatic destination. Imagine combining the green and blue spaces to make one cohesive space of happiness? Pack a picnic lunch, hit up your friends and jump into the blue spaces leaving yourself feeling refreshed and revitalized.
As a huge advocate for yoga and meditation, the idea of yoga in the park is nothing less than a win-win for myself. Add a pond with some fish into the mix and my day is beyond set. What I love about yoga in the park is that nine times out of ten, it’s free! Who doesn’t love free yoga? If you are a beginner to yoga, these classes are perfect due to their encompassing nature to promote community and an enjoyable experience for all. If you are up for the challenge of unison between yourself and nature, get outside and stabilize that mountain pose!
If you’re feeling inspired to get out and explore, there’s no better time than right now to go and do it. Skip the happy hour after work, take a drive to one of your favorite spots, and watch the sunset. Bring your dog, bring your mom or just bring your awareness as peace and serenity paints a beautiful picture around you. Whatever it is you decide to do, remember, the most important part is getting outside.
Do You Hike to #StayAlive?