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Why Time Outside Is Valuable for Mental Health

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benefits of physical exercise and positive mental health

Think about the last time you went to the beach. Picture the sunlight reflecting off of the water. Imagine the sounds of the waves. Feel the sun warming your skin and the sand beneath your toes. Chances are, just by imagining that time you spent at the beach, you felt yourself relax. Maybe your breath got a little deeper or your shoulders softened. This is the power of nature. Being in nature connects us to our surroundings, but it also has a real impact on our mental health. 

Nature and Mental Health

Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people during particular seasons or times of the year. 

Studies have shown nature’s positive impact on health and well-being, even in urban areas and for people living in more confined areas. One study found that a 20-minute “dose” of nature in cities reduced stress levels. Another showed that more tree cover helped lessen symptoms of depression among residents of nursing homes. A study in Sweden found that access to a garden significantly reduced participants’ stress. Access to gardens or views of nature can even reduce the strength and frequency of food cravings.

Being in nature encourages us to slow down and be mindful. A simple thing like a walk or a more high-energy activity like rock climbing requires you to be present at some level. You have to pay attention to your surroundings and problem solve as you go. If your route is blocked, can you find an alternative path home? If you’ve called off of a climb, can you reassess your path and try again? Being mindful allows us to also experience gratitude. Feeling gratitude for your body for carrying through your activity or to your friend for taking the time out of their day to be with you. Practicing gratitude plays an important part in mental health and overall feelings on wellness. 

Journey Home East Can Help

Journey Home East provides key supportive interventions in a home-like setting. We include various types of interventions including group, individual, and family support. As a transitional independent living program, we also help our residents work on independent living skills, develop positive peer and community relationships, help them with academic success, and provide exciting recreational activities.

Journey Home East helps provide the opportunity for greater freedoms and responsibilities entailed in pursuing further education or having a job. Residents are being supported in this process by our skilled staff. Being surrounded by the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, there are endless opportunities to get out and explore. For more information please call (855) 290-9684.