There’s no doubt that with every new generation their spending more and more time in front of the screen. We’ve gone from a television in most houses from the 1950s, to today, where there has never been more on-demand content, hundreds of thousands of hours being created every second with non-stop social media streams direct to our eyeballs.
The trouble is, it’s not good for us. The more we watch the greater our risk of weight gain, it can affect your thinking and cognitive abilities, and it strains your eyes and can even do permanent damage. So what’s the alternative? You need to shut off the computer, and get outside. My folks used to always tell me to “Get outside and into the fresh air,” and it wasn’t until we moved to our homestead did I really start noticing the changes.
Here’s the benefits of spending a little more time in the wild.
It’s good for your health
You’d be surprised that getting outside can have such an impact, but remember we were never designed to sit indoors all day. You’ll find plenty of studies that talk about the health benefits of the great outdoors, it’ll help with everything from decreasing diabetes while lowering your blood pressure and your heart rate. Plus, all the vitamin D you’re getting boosts your own body’s ability to fight off cancer, depression and even heart attacks.
It’s good for your immune system
More so than just the vitamin D boost you get from the sunlight, there are many additional compounds you’re exposed to that boost your immune system. There’s research being done now into phytoncides, which are tiny airborne compounds released by plants, that can increase our white blood cell count as we breathe them in. And white blood cells are what help us to fight off both infections and the diseases we are exposed to in our life.
It’s good for stress relief
Simply wandering through a forest track, or even sitting or lying in the woods can significantly lower the amount of stress hormone levels in our body. One study from China discovered that just 20 minutes per day in nature is enough to reduce all markers of stress, inflammation, pain and fatigue that we all battle with every day. All you need to do to reap the benefits is get outdoors, even for a short time, and surround yourself with nature.
It’s good for your sleep
If you’re having trouble sleeping spending a little time outdoors is a great way to reset your sleep cycle. Our eyes respond differently to different sources of light, and the blue light we get from our phones is what keeps us up at night. Try switching and getting outdoors in the early mornings, where it’s been shown that soaking in the first rays of the day can actually help you to sleep better in the following night. Plus, waking up at dawn also helps.
It’s good for exercising
Just by being outside you’re moving your body, and it’s a great form of natural exercise. Because you’re more likely to go for a walk or a run, and you don’t need any special equipment. Bonus points if you’re doing something socially, like a hike or climbing or some form of group activity that gets you interacting with other people too. It’s far better than just spending 20 minutes on a treadmill, and the time flies when you’re outdoors.
It’s good for your concentration
I know I always feel calmer when I’m in the outdoors, and it helps with both your creativity, while improving your memory and ability to concentrate. Just a few minutes outside can drive a 20% increase in your short-term memory retention. So if you’re battling a difficult task at work, taking even a short walk outside can help you to re-focus so you’re ready to tackle it with renewed vigor once you get back to your desk.
It’s good for anxiety and depression
More and more doctors are prescribing time outside to combat the rising rates of depression, as there are recent findings that indicate getting close to nature can alleviate many of the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder. If you’re feeling lethargic, exhaustion, sadness and any other symptoms, take some time to get outside. The fresh air will do you good, and you’ll find things may not be quite as bad as you first thought.
It’s good for your family
Getting the kids and yourself away from your devices and out into the great outdoors is critical, because it gives you time to bond and connect with them. You’ll start to learn what makes each person in your family unique, while you’re helping them to enjoy all of the other benefits they get from being outside. Because when it all comes down to it, family is what matters most, and you need to do whatever you can to provide for yours.
Remember to prepare in advance
Getting outdoors is a good step, but you also need to remember to be prepared. Take a jacket and hat, and don’t forget sunscreen and any bug spray (yes, even if it’s overcast out). I make it a habit to always let a friend or a family know where I’m headed if I’ll be gone for more than just a quick walk, and also when I’m expecting to be home. For these longer treks I’ll also throw a quick “go bag” together that’s got everything I need to survive should I find myself needing to spend a night on the trail. It seems like overkill, but I’d much rather have a few key pieces of gear than be left to improvise.
All of these benefits are why we make a daily effort to get outside. I’ve got a few quick chores my kids help out with that get them up and moving in the mornings before school, and out into the sun. Because every little bit helps, you just need to get yourself outside.