4 Reasons Why You Should
Go Outdoors To Feel Better
To live today is, in large part, to be unhappy.
Few are unaware of the consequences of living in today's fast paced world.
Stress is high, sleep is low, and life satisfaction is pretty much in the toilet. And while we have written here about how to produce happiness in 30 seconds or less wherever you are, these immediate boosts of happiness should serve as a treatment to the symptoms of modern life.
They should not serve as the cure.
Take a walk in the park.
Here are some reasons why you should go outdoors today.
1) Create Some Creativity
Creativity is the great stifled trait of the 21st century, yet the trait that will be most valuable in the days to come. Billionaire Mark Cuban believes that the most important degree in 2027 won't be a programming degree, but a liberal arts one. (source).
As automation becomes more and more rampant and companies replace workers with machines, the most valuable trait in the world will not be what you can create with your hands, but with your mind.
Everyone has some sort of a creative side and people love it when they get to show this side off.
My dad, for example, is not creative by any standard definition. He can't draw, can't write, can't paint, and can't design. He has, for all intents and purposes, the creativity of your average garden carrot.
But if you put a hammer and nail in his hands, tell him to go build something out of wood, and let him loose, the guy shines like a star.
He suddenly becomes a Michelangelo of creativity and art.
Beautiful bed frames spring from nothing, a makeshift solution to a serious problem comes from the corners of his mind, or a building is entirely and beautifully recreated from the inside out.
He can see the finished project in his mind even before the ground is ready in a way that others are simply unable to match.
When directed to the right cause, his creativity shines. And people are never so alive as when their creativity shines.
The good news for us is that going outside is clinically proven to increase your creativity. (source).
And when your creativity is at its height, your natural happy juices will flow. Why?
Because you're slowly molding your life how you want it to be.
Creativity is the brain's way of literally changing the reality around us, even if just in our own minds. It is our way of coping with our problems, imagining fantastic solutions, and transforming our lives into the life we truly desire to live in.
This type of creativity has invented every modern invention we know and love: your cell phone, your microwave, even the symbolic representation of numbers that you use to calculate how much you're spending on groceries is all a result of creativity.
Yep, numbers literally sprang from our minds.
So when you unleash your inner creativity, you are slowly transforming your life for the better. It is nearly guaranteed that you will produce more, enjoy what you have more fully, and be more resilient to the troubles that life will throw at you.
Even if you aren't naturally creative as most people define it, try a walk outside sometime. You may be surprised at how calm, cool, and collected your feel afterwards.
2) Strike Out Your Stress
Stress is some nasty stuff and does quite a number on the body.
I'm not going to go so far as to say that we're more stressed than previous generations. We aren't, after all, in the Great Depression, World War II, or the Cold War.
But I will say that we are really, really stressed in modern society. And not only are we really, really stressed, but in our constantly connected world, there's a good chance that our stress is following us home at the end of the day.
Small amounts of stress are not a bad thing; in fact, stress can be quite the helpful tool for survival and the improvement of life. When you are hungry, stress forces you to find a source of food. When you are frustrated at your situation in life, stress causes you to change the world around you through hard work, following your passions, and pursuing your dreams.
High stress over a long period of time, however, is very damaging.
High stress causes us to gain weight, lose sleep, appear older, exhibit less self-control, get sick easier, and have a higher chance of heart problems. High stress is bad news and it has rarely in history been such a constant problem as it is in our world. (source).
Not fun. Not fun at all.
Yet like a glorious superhero coming in to save the day just when the situation is at its worst, going outside for a quick break is proven to reduce your stress. (source).
WebMD says that sunshine can produce more serotonin, which is widely known to be a mood lifting chemical. Serotonin is also highly correlated to a lack of depression, whether it be your average run-of-the-mill variety (still bad, bad news) or seasonal affected disorder (initials are SAD).
Higher levels of a mood booster means lower levels of a stress booster.
So take a stroll outside. It's kinda like punching stress in the throat.
3) The Best Traits Of A Vampire Are Yours To Keep
Like most people, I am not quite looking forward to dying.
Proof that humans are obsessed with living forever is quite evident from a cursory glance at humanity: our science fiction novels include a variety of ways eternal life will be achieved, our religions promise it after faithful adherence, and our folklore includes stories of beasts, creatures, and men that are largely incapable of dying.
And like most people, I think that anything preventing the inevitable is something I want to take part in.
Good for me and you both, walking has been shown to have some incredible health benefits. People who go outside frequently at age 70 often show less signs of pain, sleep problems, and urinary incontinence. (source).
I'm all for keeping my own continence.
Other research indicates that being near natural plant life has incredible health benefits, including the production of a protein that fights off cancer. Cities with significant amounts of flora coverage have lower mortality rates from a variety of cancers. (source).
Going outside in the sunshine also boosts our vitamin D, which in itself has multiple health benefits. Recent evidence is showing a higher and higher correlation of vitamin D deficiency and various types of cancer.
Higher levels of vitamin D have also been shown to reduce osteoporosis (soft bones), type 1 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
While it can often be difficult to prove causation and correlation, that is not the case with these studies. When it comes to the outdoors, the verdict is clear: going outside can improve your health and increase your life span.
You can almost have all the perks of eternal life.
4) Get Your Brain Kickin'
You know that feeling when it's just completely impossible to continue doing whatever you're doing? When your creativity falls off a cliff and you feel stuck in a mental rut?
If you work at a job, go to school, or do anything at all with your life, this probably happens fairly regularly.
I call this the "mind-numb" and it happens to me significantly more often than I care to admit. My problem with mind-numb used to be quite a bit worse until I read Cal Newport's book Deep Work. Now, my phone stays off and emails stay closed while I'm writing.
While the fog of mind-numb has many causes, it really all boils down to one thing: mental tiredness. Mental tiredness places a cloud over our thoughts and clarity.
Mental tiredness takes a couple of forms.
One form that I mentioned earlier takes the shape of being unable to come up with new ideas or to continue your train of thought. This is obviously quite damaging and can severely impact performance in anything you're doing whether it be your work, cooking dinner, or driving.
The other form is slightly more subtle and the kind of mental fatigue that I am most susceptible to: once a main task is accomplished, other subsequent tasks become more difficult to begin.
While it seems as though the effects of this sort of mental tiredness would be obvious to notice, the effects can be difficult to detect in their entirety.
Have you ever finished a day at work and, despite having been sitting all day, feel "too tired" to go to the gym?
Have it ever been the evening, you don't have much to do, but you aren't quite feeling like reading that book you have been putting off?
Mental fatigue impacts our productivity, our fitness, and our self-improvement by blocking out new tasks that need to be done. Often, the tasks that get blocked can be the most important tasks of our day.
Yet the outdoors serves as a hard counter to mental fatigue.
When people simply see pictures of scenes in nature, their mental energies were restored. (source). Actually going outside versus walking in a city landscape proves to be even better, showing significant evidence of improvements in concentration and memory (source).
Going outside (or even just looking at pictures of nature) is extremely helpful in restoring and boosting mental energy so that you can give your brain the boost of energy that it needs.
Thanks for reading! I'll see you outside.
Where do you usually go to boost your mental energy? What do you like about that place?
Stay awesome. Have a great day.
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