By Dr. Natalie Flatt
As we come into the colder seasons, I’m always reminded about the benefit of those brisk walks are for my mental clarity, productivity, ‘lightbulb’ moments, and overall wellbeing.
We more often than not seek shelter and warm spaces which are comfortable and safe. Normally this can be linked to higher intake of calories, and increased use of technology. However, adventuring outside and spending time in nature over the colder months can be just as important for both physical and mental health.
If you visit a local park, garden, or beach, you may notice there is less noise, and there are less people and fewer sources of stress. Sunlight, fresh air, plant life, open spaces, and the natural environment can lead to lower stress levels and have an overall positive impact on wellbeing.
Individuals frequently venturing into parks, beaches and reserves have been found to experience lower levels of stress, anxiety, depression along with better quality sleep. Further Vitamin D (albeit lower) provides sunlight to assist in serotonin production; the body’s natural mood lifter.
So what are some tips to make sure we can get out of the workplaces or the home environment to protect both our mental and physical health?
- Plan some ‘walking’ meetings with a colleague. This can not only provide an opportunity for some physical activity but getting out of the normal meeting environment might spark additional ideas or different ways to work toward that project goal.
- Arrange social catch ups during the day rather than the evening. This is a great way to venture into different areas of your city and catch a few extra rays for that hit of Vitamin D. It also prevents you from falling into the trap of ‘unmotivated cancelling’ (AKA, too tired, can’t be bothered, don’t want to get dressed to go out for dinner).
- Strip down. When outside, ditch the sunglasses if not too glary. A strong entry point for vitamin D is under the eyes so make sure they are exposed for even a small amount of time (20 minutes).
- Leave the tech at home. Aim to leave the phone at home or if in a group/family, take only phone outside. Enjoy what is in front of you rather than what is on the screen. Also, it’s a great way to disconnect even for a few hours.
- Find the relationship – on the days you do outdoor activities, record how you feel after. What is your mood toward your family? How are your energy levels? Do you feel more productive? Did you solve that problem? Are you more grateful? The best way to recognise what is good for you and if ir works is to reflect and a quick journal entry or even that smiley face on your work calendar will be a great reminder that outdoor life is good for you. J