Why Being in Nature Will Benefit Your Mental Health
Are you feeling stressed and anxious at the moment? Or simply looking for ways to boost your well-being? Being surrounded nature is a sure-fire way to improve your mental health and wellness.
At Adventure Tours UK, we’re always championing the importance of being outdoors. It’s in our core DNA, and it’s a part of everything we do.
From yoga on our Wild Wellness Retreat to hiking on our 14 Peaks Experience, being outside in nature with the beautiful British countryside all around is what we’re all about.
And after a year of lockdowns, with all the layers of stress built up from the pandemic, being outdoors is now more important than ever. Especially when it comes to your mental health.
Thankfully the first day of Spring has now passed and the clocks will be going forward at the end of the month. We’re about to have even more daylight hours to enjoy being outside, so now’s the perfect time to get back into nature.
Even though we’ve been championing the importance of being outdoors for years, we realise it’s now more relevant than ever before. So we want to share with you just some of the many benefits of being outside in nature and how it can help heal your mental health. Obviously there are a fair few other benefits too which we’ll delve into, so grab a cuppa and read on…
Walk your way to lower stress levels
Often with the body, everything is linked. When you’re stressed, you tend to eat more. Not only does this lead to increased weight and obesity, it also causes you to be more lethargic. All of this can ultimately lead to increased anxiety and depression. It’s a vicious circle, creating a lack of motivation to get outside.
Early recognition of this is key as it enables you to do something about it. Once you take that first step of going outdoors for a simple walk, you will have broken the cycle. It puts you back in control and allows nature to do what it does best, reducing your stress levels and boosting your mood.
The rhythmic exercise of walking reduces your blood pressure while increasing your heart rate. Together these help to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So if you ever feel things are getting too much, just head outside for 10 or 15 minutes and give your mind the boost it needs.
Longer hikes will also get the blood pumping and increase your fitness levels, which will have long term benefits too like reduced cholesterol and weight loss.
It sounds simple, and it is. But don’t underestimate the power of a daily walk.
Nature can help recentre yourself
Being outside in nature offers you the chance to re-centre and focus on yourself, away from daily distractions. Going for a walk through the woods or by the sea, even a stroll through your local park, can give you that much-needed head space to think through your problems and help find solutions.
It’s been proven that ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature) can help with mild to moderate depression.
One of our most popular tours, our Wild Wellness Retreat, is completely focused on reconnecting with nature and re-centering yourself, while in the gorgeous countryside of North Wales. Being immersed in nature on this experience offers you the chance to refocus your mind and rebalance yourself, because simply being active outdoors will improve your mental health.
Even the smell of the seaside, the forest or fresh grass is enough to stimulate your senses and re-energise you. And warm sunshine on your skin not only feels uplifting, it’s how our bodies create vitamin D. This is important for everyone but especially if you’re affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD has been associated with not having enough vitamin D and is particularly prevalent during the short dark days of winter, so a boost of Spring sunshine could be just what you need! Please ensure you enjoy the sun responsibly though and take care of your skin.
Improve your confidence and self-esteem
Getting outside more also brings the benefits of improved self-esteem and confidence.
Once you get into a routine of walking every day, it starts becoming a habit. You’ll have more energy, better focus and concentration, and all of a sudden it’ll be a part of everyday life. A way of life, even.
One of the hardest things to overcome with mental health is a lack of confidence. Just taking the simple steps of going for a walk or a bike ride is a sure-fire way of starting out on the path toward feeling better within yourself.
Boost your concentration and energy
Most of us have been in lockdown for over 6 months in the past year. With offices closed, we’ve essentially been staring at our laptops and computers a whole lot more. Without colleagues bumbling by your desk or watercooler chats to break up the day, it quickly becomes a very intense way of working.
It’s amazing how quickly you can lose concentration if you don’t have any variety to your day. If all you’re doing is getting up, logging onto your computer and starting work, it’s no surprise you’re finding it hard to concentrate for prolonged periods of time.
By getting outside for a short walk each day, not only will it help with your concentration, but it will also give you more energy. You may no longer need to commute to work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose to. A simple walk before work and a walk at the end of the day will give you back that post-work decompression time we’ve all been missing, while giving you a boost of outdoor wellness to boot!
And the best bit? It’s believed that sacrificing a little time at your desk to do this will actually make you more productive, so you can achieve more in less time. Now that’s what you call a win-win!
Be active to sleep better
If you’re having difficulty sleeping, being outdoors and exercising regularly can really help to improve the quality of your sleep. Going for a walk in the afternoon can help your body to relax in the evening, which will take you all the way through to when you go to bed. But don’t forget, to get the full benefit of your time spent outdoors you need to leave the distractions behind and focus on being present. Walking while emailing doesn’t count!
Even if you already sleep well, a lunchtime walk will go a long way to improving your mood and overall well-being. Not to mention improving blood flow to your brain, making you sharper in the afternoon.
Make friends for life
We may be biased, but we genuinely believe one of the great things about our tours is meeting like-minded people.
As all of our tours are outside in nature, everyone has that interest in common. And when you already have a shared interest, it’s so much easier to connect with new people. Being surrounded by like-minded people can really boost your mental health and well-being. And longer term it’s the first step toward forming a supportive network, something we all need to help our resilience when life throws a curveball.
We’ve seen it time and time again where our guests have helped each other overcome challenges, whether it’s making it to the end of a tough hike, braving that ‘big jump’ when canyoning or simply opening up and talking around the campfire. It’s one of the reasons our small group experiences are so special.
So, how often should we be outdoors?
The thing is, we’re not suggesting you become an ultra-marathon runner. All it takes is a dedication to getting outdoors a few times each week and doing something active. Any form of exercise for 20-30 minutes, three times a week outdoors will improve your mental health. That’s it.
When you consider all the benefits to your mental and physical health, as well as boosting your confidence, concentration and energy levels, you can see why we’re such advocates of being outdoors.
As we said, we will always champion the importance of being outdoors. For us it’s a way of life, but we’d love it if it became a part of your life too. Hopefully we can show you that on one of our tours in the near future.
The Year of Outdoors
This year is officially the Year of Outdoors with Visit Wales. Instead of being cooped up indoors (because we’ve all had enough of that lately), 2021 is about exploring your local area and reconnecting with nature.
As Visit Wales say: “In Wales, there has always been an inherent relationship between people and the outdoors. It’s not just that our landscapes are awe-inspiring; they are steeped in the living history of an ancient language and culture. The stirring emotions evoked by the Welsh outdoors have inspired our poets, writers and artists for centuries.”
From the mountains of Snowdonia to the beautiful beaches of the Pembrokeshire Coast, there are so many jewels to visit in Wales. Sometimes the hardest thing is deciding where to go.
Thankfully we can help you with that. If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, here are 8 wonderful Welsh adventures to go on this summer and remember, our team is just an email or phone call away.