Whenever I was feeling ill as a child, my mum always took me out for a walk - to “get a breath of fresh air”. And in fact, there’s a lot to be said for that good old fashioned remedy; huge amounts of research and scientific studies have all proven that spending time outside in nature is fantastically good for us, for a variety of reasons…
The sounds and smells of natural environments are extremely beneficial for mental health, providing a sense of calm and aiding relaxation. Leading sound expert Julian Treasure says that birdsong is one of the most reassuring sounds to human ears, and other natural sounds are just as relaxing. Then there’s the smell of the forest: trees and plants emit an organic compound called phytoncides, and when inhaled this can help reduce anxiety.
Research undertaken by Professor Roger Ulrich at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has shown that the countryside can have a positive impact on recovering from illnesses. In fact, he found that even a simple view of trees through a hospital window could improve recovery rates.
Vitamin D is produced and activated in our bodies when sunlight hits our skin. This vitamin helps fight certain conditions, including osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Regular exercise also helps to prevent some cancers, as well as tackling obesity which can lead to dozens of future problems.
Spending time in nature can also boost creativity and improve focus. Our everyday lives are over stimulating and getting outdoors can give our brains a break from that, restoring attention levels. Many really successful and creative people, including Goethe, Dickens, Darwin, Beethoven, and - more recently - Steve Jobs, were known for taking long walks to help them focus, so you’re in great company!
Being outdoors makes us feel good! Studies have shown show that activities outdoors, particularly in natural environments, make us feel more happy than the same activities performed indoors. People who live within 1km of a park or wooded area also experience less anxiety and depression than those living further away from green spaces, and spending time in nature has been proven to lower levels of stress and boost happiness.
So, there you have it - five excuses to take a break from work or whatever is stressing you out and just head outdoors. Of course, mother nature can't always be relied upon for a clear, dry day. Make sure you pop on a waterproof jacket to protect you from the elements. A packaway rain mac is the perfect solution for a lightweight, handy option to take with you on any outdoors trip.