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The Effects of The Outdoors

After I have had a long day at work, I often find myself wanting to simply go home, eat some food, binge watch a favorite show, and go lay in bed. I’ve also found myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone as I sit on my couch and try to forget about the day. Sound familiar? In today’s world, much of our lives are spent inside in a climate-controlled area where we feel comfortable. We often find an excuse with the weather to remain indoors and expose ourselves to more screen time. As our screen time goes up, simultaneously our mental health can begin to slip. We often forget about the power of nature and the outdoors and how our health can reap from the benefits of simply taking a stroll through the park.

Being outside has many more health benefits than simply getting away from a screen temporarily. One of the most notable benefits is allowing your body to soak up some much needed Vitamin D. Typically, the human body cannot obtain the necessary levels from food alone. Allowing the body access to the sun’s UVB rays will aid the body in absorbing the necessary levels of Vitamin D. In colder climates where people tend to be inside during the winter, there is a significantly higher diagnosis rate of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (often referred to as seasonal depression). Vitamin D is extremely powerful and can be a mood enhancer to make a person feel happier, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem. If a few minutes in the sun can have this many positive effects, it seems silly not to take advantage of it!

Not only can being outside help our bodies absorb the necessary vitamins we need, it can also help us to improve our immune systems by exposing our bodies to the natural elements found in nature. This can benefit adults and children alike and help them to have a stronger immune system. This is also why there is typically an elevation in sickness in the winter because people are not spending as much time outside and getting the fresh air as they do during other seasons throughout the air.

As a person that loves the comfort of my own home, this task can be extremely daunting at times. Recently, I found myself struggling to be around others, having a difficult time at work, and overall, just not nearly as happy as I would like to be. I woke up one Saturday morning and realized something needed to change. By Sunday, I found myself taking off for a quick self-care journey. For the next 72 hours, I spent many hours hiking, reading outside, and sitting in nature listening to the sounds. The power of the great outdoors, fresh air, and a few extra steps can truly be life changing! I encourage you to not wait until you hit a breaking point as I unfortunately did. Take the opportunity each day to find a few minutes to be outside! Your body and your mind will surely thank you for it!

Nyla Witzel, Volunteer at The Kim Foundation