Most people find themselves feeling down in the dumps from time to time. While psychological therapies are helpful if you’re particularly struggling, sometimes a little pick-me-up can be as simple as getting outdoors for some mood-boosting exercise and fresh air.
There are plenty of ways to make the most of your time outside in order to reap the mental health benefits – let’s take a look at three activities you may want to try.
COLD WATER SWIMMING
Swimming is great for your physical and mental health, no matter where you choose to do it. However, many people find that cold water swimming outdoors offers many more perks than simply taking a dip in the pool.
Ultimately, movement is good for the body, and the healthier the body, the healthier the mind. In fact, swimming in cold water can cause a huge surge in happiness hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and beta-endorphins. There’s plenty of research to back this up, too – according to the National Library of Medicine, 95% of people with depression surveyed in the UK observed a reduction in symptoms when they started cold water swimming, along with 98.4% of those with anxiety. Obviously, you should use good judgment and make sure the water isn't too cold and that you aren't staying in the water long enough to cause any harm to yourself.
Gardening can be a wonderful way to boost your mood, and is suitable for all ages and abilities. People tend to enjoy gardening for different reasons – for some, it offers a moment of relaxation and respite amongst the sights and sounds of nature. For others, a bit of hauling soil, tough weeding and generally getting their hands dirty can be an enjoyable way to get some gentle exercise.
Whether you’re planting a few bulbs or fully landscaping your garden, it’s clear that gardening makes us feel good. It allows us to focus on the present moment, get creative, and ultimately feel rewarded as we see our hard work pay off.
When it comes to expressing and soothing our emotions, art activities work so well that even some professional counsellors make use of them in therapy sessions. There’s no right or wrong way to take part in art therapy – in fact, dance, music and writing are all popular forms of this type of treatment.
Of course, you don’t have to seek counselling to reap the mental health benefits of art. Getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper can be as simple as taking your sketchbook to the local park, or setting up your easel somewhere with a beautiful view. Getting creative outdoors is preferred because it allows for a change of scenery, plenty of fresh air, and ultimately lots of useful inspiration – each of which goes a long way in making us feel good.
RELAX AND RESTORE
When you’re looking for a mental health boost, one of the best things you can do is get outside. Whether you choose to try an activity or not, simply existing in a calm, natural environment can help you to get some headspace, relax, and feel restored.
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