Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

5 Ways Being Outdoors Can Make You Happier

One of the big challenges of 2020 included uncertainty. We weren’t certain of any sort of timeline. There was really no relief in sight for quite a long time, so it was hard to focus on better times ahead. This type of stress can lock down your brain and leave you miserable. Getting outside in 2021 and beyond can help.

1.   Being Outdoors Reduces Your Stress

Getting out and moving can loosen up your muscles and free up your mind. We, humans, are prone to focusing on problems, but too often we view those problems as the source of our unhappiness. The idea that fixing all your troubles will bring you to a shiny bubble of happiness is not only inaccurate but ineffective.

It is fixing the problems that make us happy. To that end, getting outside is critical. Moving your body through space, being aware of the feel of the air on your body and the sunlight on your face is an ideal way to shed stress. As stress falls away, your creative brain gets engaged and you can focus on higher thinking. Troubles and problems become much more manageable when your creative brain is engaged.

2. Getting Outdoors Gives You Perspective

We humans still struggle with survival stress. While we were quite successful predators, we were also lunch for some of the bigger predators who tracked us. This survival stress now shows up in weird ways.

For example, if you’ve ever craved a new car, television, garment, home, or partner, you may notice how easy it is to become obsessed by the thought that, “If I can just get ______, I can be happy!” This is both inaccurate and destructive.

By the third day of camping in Delaware, you will have shed a lot of the thoughts that make you unhappy. Your perspective will include what you really need, which includes

  • sleep
  • sunlight
  • water
  • food
  • shelter
  • connection

Camping helps us to get out of the race to own all the stuff.

3. Getting Outdoors Boosts Your Brain Power

Your creative brain shuts down when all you feed it is negativity, and it has been pretty easy to swim in negativity lately. To get out of that pool, get outside. Engage in habitual behavior to turn your creative brain loose in a positive way.

For example, you may have a challenge with a family member or a co-worker. If your stressed-out mind thinks that the only way to fix the problem is for the other person to change, you’re not going to get anywhere. Take your creative brain for a walk and put it to work. Are there things you’re doing that are making the situation worse? Do you need to apologize? What can you do to make it better? “Aha,” moments of clarity and creativity show up when we get moving.

4. Being Outdoors Helps You Feel Alive

It’s a big world out there and we’re all connected. Birds need worms and bugs; humans need food and fresh air. To keep your perspective when you’re anxious and stressed out, getting outside and seeing the leaves turn colors as fall temperatures cool off can be incredibly soothing.

Being outside and noticing these changes can give you hope when your life feels especially static and unhappy. Spring will come. So will fall. Some days it’s going to be rainy and cold, while other days will be bright and sunny. If you’re stuck in all or nothing thinking, get outside.

5. Being Outdoors Can Increase Your Generosity

The great outdoors can be quite beautiful. You don’t have to be strolling through a national park to notice a pretty plant, a bright flower, or a cheery bird. Getting outdoors and enjoying the beauty of the natural world can actually increase your ability to trust those around you. It can also increase your ability to be kind to those in need.

Focusing on yourself is a natural act; there is a reason we are instructed to put on our own masks if pressure drops while flying. However, if you have been wallowing in your own worries for too long, getting outside is a wonderful way to boost your connection to others. We all need it.


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