Get outside more

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Many have speculated that reducing the amount of time we spend in the great outdoors has had a negative impact on our collective mental health and that getting out into nature can work wonders in terms of combatting depression.

I know that for me there are few better feelings than getting out into the glorious English countryside and that a beautiful view across some unspoilt natural setting never fails to lift my spirits. And apparently there’s science to back this up too, because being in nature can lower our stress levels and blood pressure compared with when we’re running around in an urban jungle.

Why does getting outside more help?

  • Sunlight helps you feel more relaxed by encouraging your body to produce endorphins.  Endorphins help reduce pain, elevate your mood and are basically bloody brilliant.

  • Sunlight also stimulates the release of dopamine in your body. People with depression often suffer from lower levels of dopamine so this is obviously going to be beneficial.

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5 things you can do right now

  1. Get outside today. Take a walk on your lunch break, enjoy an al fresco dinner, or spend time gardening.

  2. Get the double whammy of benefits of sunlight and exercise by exercising outside. Try hiking, cycling, walking in a local park, or playing golf or tennis with a friend. Yes, I know that in the UK we’re not always blessed with a Miami-esque climate, but do your best!

  3. Increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and curtains and sitting near windows.

  4. Make spending time outside a regular thing. Try, for example, Green Gym (free outdoor sessions where you’re guided in practical activities such as planting trees, sowing meadows and establishing wildlife ponds), Goodgym (helps you do good while you’re getting fit), a local walking group, a Walking for Health group (walking group for depression), or join a local cycling group.

  5. If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine (hello Glasgow!), try using a light therapy box.

 

Further reading