BY: NADIA ZAIDI
Shelter may be one of our basic needs, but it doesn’t hurt to get out a little. Actually, it’s kind of necessary.
Exposure to the sun calibrates your body’s circadian clock. This basically regulates everything from appetite to your sleep schedule. It also regulates your energy levels, and mood. This is why doctors recommend people who live in colder, cloudier climates to consume vitamin D to make up for the lack of sun exposure.
When your body produces more vitamin D, it reduces inflammation, regulates your immune system and makes you happier overall. It’s also crucial for a healthy heart.
And no, it’s not the same as sitting under an artificial light. A lack of natural light throws off your internal rhythm.
Commit to going outdoors, even if it’s to check your mail. Make an excuse to walk around the block, or to park your car further away from the building. It’s not so much about exercise – although exercise is an added bonus – but about soaking up the sun. Much of the problem is that we’re busy associating the outdoors with fitness, but it’s not always about weight or diet. It’s about being mentally happy.
Ideally, you want to aim for at least 45 minutes of outdoor time in the morning. The body absorbs the suns light through your retina. Where you spend your time outdoors also makes a difference. Being around tons of greenery — parks and forests — is the most beneficial. Improved mood and overall mental health, reduced stress, as well as less physical pain is most recorded in people who spend time around nature’s greenery.
Being outdoors encourages mindfulness and allows you to focus on the surroundings before you, rather than on thoughts and sensations within. It forces you to relax and to heighten your focus, leading to increased clarity.
Being outdoors is a recommended form of therapy because it allows you to disconnect from your stressors and triggers. Social websites are linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression. In fact, you won’t reap the benefits of being outdoors if you bring your phone with you. It’s better if you just leave any devices in your bag or purse.
For people who suffer from OCD, or other mental health issues, it’s important that you snap out of the surroundings that trigger those ruminations. If you are feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts or obsessions, just open your door and take a walk. Luckily, even a small amount of outdoor time is beneficial.
Other crucial benefits:
- Improves short term memory
- Leads to better vision
- Increased creativity
- May provide anti-cancer benefits through stimulating anti-cancer proteins.
- Boosts self-esteem
- Encourages you to take things easy
I think we need to encourage each other to go for walks. It also makes us more mindful of our Earth. Sometimes we feel a sense of disconnect and aren’t as contientious of our behaviours and ecological footprints because we’re living in our own worlds. Spending time outdoors is not something we need to be doing less of, or putting on the back burner because we’re too busy. It’s crucial that we make time, and that as times change, and technologies become even more advanced, that we remember our roots in mother earth.