My thermometer reads 8 degrees, the wind chill is -5, schools are delayed because of the cold, and I’m sure the last thing most of you are thinking about is spending time outdoors. I happen to love winter sports, but if you don’t embrace winter, I’m a strong believer in planning ahead so you will be ready for the great outdoors by the time spring rolls around. Spending time outdoors is good for your mental health and overall wellbeing.
Tips to why you should spend more time outdoors:
- Being in nature encourages exercise. The more time you spend outdoors the more you will get moving, e.g. walking, yard work, biking.
- Studies show that sunlight helps elevate your mood. If you feel down, try going outdoors for 30 to 60 minutes each day.
- Fresh air clears your mind, especially cold, crisp air.
- You will turn off the TV. Choosing to spend time outdoors means you will have less time sitting on the couch. Physical activity improves both your mood and energy.
- All the electronics we use daily are great to help our lives run smoother, but not so great for really connecting with others. All those electronics drain our energy and make us feel like we are always “on.” Turn off anything with a screen, slow down, and connect with someone face-to-face. Maybe take a walk with a friend.
- Don’t isolate. When we stay indoors it is too easy to isolate. Going outdoors encourages us to be around other people.
- Being outdoors helps improve concentration in children with ADHD. Studies show that children focus better after being outdoors. It will also help anyone. I think most of us can say that taking a break and going outdoors helps us focus better when we get back to task.
- Sunlight helps our vitamin D levels increase. Vitamin D helps us stay healthier. Studies suggest vitamin D can help fight certain illnesses and improve mental health. But don’t overdo it. Some studies suggest 15 minutes is all you need. After that, put on the sunscreen.
- Connect with nature. Next time you are in nature, breathe deep. Being in nature can be very calming, and studies even show it can lower depression.
- It’s important to get outside, but if you don’t live near nature bring the outside in. Certain smells and sounds can have a positive impact on us. Adding some plants and the smell of lemon and peppermint can lift your mood.
For assistance, please contact the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling. We have a network of counselors throughout Maryland. Jim Quinn, Director, (443) 703-3041, firstname.lastname@example.org; Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, Associate Director, (443) 703-3042, email@example.com. Toll Free line 1(888) 388-5459.
Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C has over 20 years experience in her field, and extensive experience working with lawyers and judges in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and trauma. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, paddle boarding, sailing, rock climbing and training for triathlons.