Last modified on May 3rd, 2022 at 9:13 am
Being out in nature can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Spending just 20 to 30 minutes outside each day has been proven to reduce stress levels. In Japan, a study on the effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere) for even short periods of time could reduce levels, the natural chemical found in your body that causes stress.
A comprehensive analysis of ten different studies showed that spending time outdoors, in a natural setting, improved mood and self-esteem. Those who are struggling with depression saw increases in mood and a reduction in their depression symptoms.
Even if you do not live close to woods or forests, there are still things you can do to use the outdoors to help with depression symptoms.
Here are some suggestions for using the great outdoors to help with depression:
Listen to Some Nature Sounds
If you don’t feel like getting out of bed or going far, why not use your phone or another device to immerse yourself in nature. If you go on YouTube, you can find plenty of videos that are just 10 hours of nature sounds. Alternatively, you can find similar apps as well.
Listening to sounds from nature has many uses. For one, they can be a great sleep aid, or a way to relax.
For example, play some forest sounds. Imagine yourself in the woods, breathing in the fresh air, listening to the birds, and setting up camp. Listen to some cricket sounds and imagine yourself camping. Maybe add a fire sound effect to it.
Besides being calming, these mindful imaginations can be uplifting to your frame of mind.
Write Down Goals
Write down some goals relevant to your journey of enjoying the great outdoors. Maybe you can start easy with something such as leaving your home, then work your way up to going to a local park. The end goal should be something that’s extremely difficult for you right now, such as going to another town, but when you accomplish your smaller goals, it can be a whole lot easier.
A pet helps to relieve depression in many different ways. A dog’s loyal smile can cheer you up. If you have a dog, walking them around your house is a good way to enjoy the outdoors. Dogs love “walkies” and having a dog means you will need to take them outside. For you, it will mean you have a purpose to get outdoors, get some fresh air an a bit of exercise at the same time.
Plus, taking care of a pet puts you on a routine. Having a pet means that there is someone depending on you. They will need a level of care every day. A pet also bestows companionship and a loyal friendship. So go to your local animal shelter and see if there’s a pet waiting for you.
Take Care of a Pet
This is another way to enjoy the outdoors while you’re depressed. A pet helps to relieve depression in many different ways. A cat’s purrs can soothe your mood, and a dog’s loyal smile can cheer you up. If you have a dog, walking them around your house is a good way to enjoy the outdoors.
Plus, taking care of a pet puts you on a routine. When you’re on a routine, it can be fantastic for your depression.
So go to your local animal shelter and see if there’s a pet waiting for you. Of course, if you’re home alone and too depressed, taking care of one may not be something you want.
Start a Garden
No matter where you live, a garden is a possibility. Even if you live in a high-rise apartment, you can cultivate herbs and vegetables right in your own home. Indoor house plants and flowering bushes do well in various settings. If you have window sills or a balcony, you have what you need to bring some of the green from the outdoors inside.
Do the Buddy System
Have a friend or family member become part of a “buddy” system. It has been proven that people tend to stick to a goal or routine when they have a buddy that they can work towards the same goal with. Perhaps you can find a workout buddy who helps you run, or find someone else who is willing to explore nature with you. A friend can not only improve your mental health by giving you someone to socialize with, but they can hold you accountable when you feel like you can’t leave your home. So try a workout buddy and work towards each other’s goals together.
Do it for the Mental Health Benefits
Getting outside and spending more time in nature can work wonders for anyone who might suffer from depression. While no complete substitute for medicine and therapy, the great outdoors can help ease symptoms. Here are just some reasons why the outdoors are good for you.
- Going outdoors keeps you more alert and focused. When you’re outside in the sunlight, it can wake you up and energize you naturally. If you want to improve your sleeping, spend some time outdoors in the morning and get some sunlight.
- The outdoors can inspire creativity. When you’re outside, you may find something you’re curious about, or something you want to write about in your next story. The outdoors do get those creative juices flowing much better than you may think.
- The fresh air outdoors can make you feel much better than the air you breathe in your home. This especially applies if you try some meditative breathing outdoors. Mindful, meditative breathing is already good for you, but there is a reason many prefer to do it outside.
- Taking a walk and getting in a little exercise can release endorphins, a feel-good chemical. As your endorphins are released, you may end up feeling much better and want to work out more.
- Getting a little exercise can help you sleep better, too.
Finally, we have one of the most important tips that we can give you, and that’s seeking help. You may be someone who already has a therapist, but leaving your home can feel like a great task. Sometimes, you can’t even get out of your bed.
This is where online therapy comes in. An online therapist uses a mobile or other device to communicate to you. It’s possible to get live assistance as you make a journey outside to try to enjoy the day. We know it isn’t easy, but with a little bit of practice, you can do it. Good luck with your depression. Let the outdoors bless you.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.