Benefits of the Outdoors

Benefits of the Outdoors

Back in the day (indeed not that long ago really) playgrounds were a mix of soft rubber surfaces, padding and bubble wrap. Quite boring, but all for so called safety. Or as I like to refer to it as “nanny state”. Now thankfully best practice has moved towards natural playscapes with an element of risk. To not only help children to gain agency by making their own decisions as they decipher risk but gain competency and understanding in sustainability while enjoying some nature. Playgrounds should not be considered a place where children run to get all their energy out. The outdoor green environment also contributes to children’s mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. But not just children!

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, can reduce anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes us feel better emotionally, but it also contributes to our physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.

Experiences in nature increase positive mood by releasing endorphins. Mindfully spending time in nature has been shown to strengthen spiritual fitness, help fight depression, lower anxiety, and boost your immune system and overall well-being.

Author Richard Louv talks about nature being a missing and essential “Vitamin N” and spotlights the alienation of children from the natural world, coining the term nature-deficit disorder and outlining the benefits of a strong nature connection—from boosting mental acuity and creativity to reducing obesity and depression, from promoting health and wellness to simply having fun.

Somehow, we have lost our way and decided it was more fun to be on a device instead of outside. Many people are now deficient in Vitamin D because they don’t get outside enough. Moreover, people are losing the ability to work with nature and develop some self-sufficiency by growing fresh food for themselves. Psychiatrist Sue Stuart-Smith talks about the benefits of gardening for the mind in her book “The Well Gardened Mind”, Sue tells stories of how people struggling with stress, depression, trauma, and addiction changed their lives once they started gardening. Not only is gardening therapeutic for the everyone, but there is a sense of pride and accomplishment from growing your own food. You’re not reliant on a system.

If we the adults get outside in nature, we role model for our children. Whether you go for walks, garden or just be present in nature, it’s the best place to be for our physical, mental and spiritual health.