I’m basically obsessed with being outside. If I have an addiction these days, it’s to sunshine and fresh air. Frankly, I attribute a lot of my recovery from depression and anxiety to vitamin D, exercise and QT spent with Mother Nature — and I tell that to anyone who’ll listen.
We live on an indescribably amazing planet, full of wonder and adventure and awe-inspiring beauty. There’s magic in the tiniest of details — in ants marching, dewdrops on grass, a chirping bird. All of these are miracles. Yet, we’re a sedentary society obsessed with television and air conditioning and smartphones.
Something’s wrong with this picture (and it’s not ‘cuz your flat screen is busted).
Personally, I believe a lot of our collective mental health woes stem from separating ourselves from the earth we live on. From the food we eat to the air we breathe, this planet is why we’re alive. Yet our existence tends to revolve around chemistry and technology. Not that there’s anything wrong with the advances of man. There isn’t — science and technology are awesome, in healthy moderation.
But we’re humans, and healthy moderation isn’t really our things.
Turns out, science says I’m RIGHT about the importance of the outdoors! Admittedly, I might not have been the first to suggest such a thing. 😉 A new study out of Scotland suggests that walking outside has huge benefits for mental health and wellbeing. This follows in the footsteps of other studies, like Harvard Medical School’s report that exercise can be as effective as anti-depressants.
Walking is easy, free and anyone can do it, anytime, anywhere. It’s literally the best thing ever.
“Scientists from Scotland, England and the United States found individuals who had recently endured major ‘life events’ such as a serious illness, the death of a loved one, marriage breakdown or unemployment experienced a noticeable mood boost from outdoor group walks,” reported Scotsman.com. The study followed 1,991 participants in a Walking for Health group.
In the words of the program manager: “We’ve seen first-hand walking is a wonder drug with huge benefits for your physical and mental health.”
In America, we tend to prefer driving over walking, much to our detriment. But we can bring walking back. We can embrace the loveliness of a jaunt around the block or an evening stroll. We can get up from the couch and explore our neighborhood. We can take every opportunity we’re given to immerse ourselves in the spectacular world we live in. And benefit our mental health, while we’re at it. As my literary soulmate Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “We can never have enough of nature.”
Even Homer Simpson figured it out (albeit temporarily).
Perhaps the cure for many of our ills is staring us right in the face, and all we need to embrace it are some halfway decent sneaks and the guts to look up from our smartphones every once in awhile