The Benefits of Time Spent Outdoors

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The Psychological Effects of the Outdoors

Research in psychology has shown that exposure to the outdoors makes people feel more energetic and alive. It seems that nature revitalizes people. It is also known to instill a sense of well-being, helping reduce stress and all the stress-related disorders that are so common in modern life. According to Psychology Today and this study, exercise outdoors is more beneficial to exercise indoors, and also promotes greater presence of mind. Being in nature helps us be more present, more in touch with ourselves, our bodies, and other people, promoting a sense of connection.

There are a lot of reasons for why this might be. Some of the more popular ones:

Escaping the Everyday to Focus on What's Important

Of course, not everyone enjoys being in nature. Some people get annoyed by bugs, or the heat, or the lack of comfortable seats. I generally make a point of avoiding people that can't even enjoy a short hike, because spending time in the outdoors is such an integral part of my existence and my concept of self. Camping, hiking, and time spent outdoors has provided me with much needed solace throughout my life. My dad always used to love the simplicity of life in the woods. When you're out camping, there is nothing to worry about except getting to your campsite, cooking your food, and taking care of basic life necessities. There is no point in worrying about things to do for work, since you cannot take care of them. He used to get into the woods specifically to isolate himself from the civilized world of everyday concerns.

Oddly though, I think the concerns you focus on in the woods are the true 'everyday' concerns of life. Eat, sleep, move, get shelter, stay warm. These are things we take for granted in our modern lives, with the ironic result that we often forget to pay any attention to them at all. In college, many of my peers often skipped breakfast and I still don't get enough sleep. The result is a sense of underlying stress that seems to permeate everything else we do during the day.

Nature reminds us that the most important things in life are the things that allow life. Eat, sleep, move. That's really all you need to be happy, and in the outdoors, that's really all you have time for.

I'd love to hear how the wilderness has contributed to your life and well-being, or why you hate the outdoors if that's your thing. Post to comments.

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