When I am overwhelmed and my head is racing with countless thoughts, I look to the mountains. Nothing clears and calms my mind like a trail leading to who-knows-where. While my default is to take to the mountains, it doesn’t matter what outdoor adventure you choose to embark on, just that you choose somewhere green and devoid of cars and crowds. A study posted in ACS Publications on the effects of the outdoors on mental wellbeing concluded that “compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, depression, and increased energy”. If thats not enough to convince you to take a hike, a NCBI article regarding the benefits of sunlight, states that by getting adequate exposure to sunlight, you can attain moderately high serotonin levels which result in ‘more positive moods and a calm yet focused mental outlook’. This all ties into the emotional dimension of the 8 dimensions of wellness. Now I know mother nature isn’t the cure for all that ails you, however time outside can alleviate and help manage the symptoms that go along with depression and anxiety. Science aside, there is something about being reminded of how small you are and how beautiful and vast the world is that can help you gain perspective on the things troubling you.
To read more about the ACS and NCBI articles referenced above click the following links: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/ http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es102947t