How to De-Stress and Switch Off Outdoors
With coronavirus, national lockdowns and bad news on the daily, 2020 and 2021 have been nothing short of stress inducing. It can be extremely easy to fall into a spiral of stress, and the current state of the world doesn’t do much to help.
Many of our tried and tested ways of dealing with stress and anxiety have been taken from us during the pandemic. While we seem to be getting back to the world of holidays in the sun and trips to the pub, it can never hurt to have more weapons in your destressing arsenal.
Destressing and time in the outdoors are two ideas that go hand in hand. With the nation’s mental health in the spotlight it’s never been more important to know some of the science and psychology behind the benefits of outdoor living. That’s why we’ve put together this super quick guide to 5 amazing de-stressing activities you can do in the great outdoors.
The Benefits of Time Outdoors
Before getting into the list let’s have a quick look at some of the science behind time spent outdoors. There’s a great deal of misinformation out there on mental health and stress, so it can always be helpful to separate the real info with some solid info backed by the experts!
The following benefits have been scientifically backed by numerous studies. Please note we haven’t included things like improving your overall physical or cardiovascular health and improving your sleep hygiene as these are connected, but not quite the same.
- Reducing your stress levels – rhythmic activities in the outdoors have been proven time and time again to reduce stress considerably. When trying to work through a particular problem or issue, a good walk in the fresh air often does wonders for the mind.
- Improving concentration and focus – in a world where concentration and focus are getting harder and harder to come by, we’ll take all the boosts we can get. Studies have shown that time in the outdoors can help to boost your concentration and refocus your mind. Next time you’re struggling with a project, a quick jaunt in the outdoors can help break down those barriers.
- Boosting your mood – for those facing symptoms of mild depression, regular outdoor exercise can be a great help. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommends that people with mild to moderate depression should exercise for 45-60 minutes at least three times a week. Obviously this should be done in conjunction with other treatments and you should always speak to a doctor or therapist for help first.
For our first outdoor stress buster we’re going with walking. It may be the simplest activity on this list but it’s definitely one of the most effective ways to destress.
Physically speaking, walking counts towards your recommended daily cardiovascular output so it’s good for your heart (10,000 steps per day recommended!). On top of that, studies have shown that daily walking can help regulate your sleeping pattern. You may not feel all the effects immediately but given time adding this activity to your routine can have a wealth of benefits.
With all of that in mind it’s easy to forget that it’s also an incredible short term stress buster… sometimes as simply as giving you a platform to have a conversation with someone.
It may seem like a bit of a new craze, but wild swimming has long been a beloved form of stress relief all over the world. The best part for those of us in the UK is that the health benefits are just as prominent in cold water.
Immersing the body in cold water has been proven to boost your dopamine levels. It’s a thrill and with its recent resurgence in popularity, there are great communities popping up all over the country dedicated to this amazing pastime. On top of the natural mood boost gained from cold water immersion, it’s also good for your physical health. It burns calories, improves circulation and boosts your immune system. Just remember to be safe and sensible with this one. Never go alone and be sure to pack and dress appropriately for conditions.
Office Hours Outdoor Lunch Break
In one of our previous blogs, we talked about all the ways you can spruce up your picnic game. Instead of eating your lunch at your desk, one great way of reducing stress is to take a quick walk, find a comfortable spot outdoors and turn your lunch break into a mini picnic.
This opportunity to destress and switch off is a great way to reset midway through your work day. The effect of a small opportunity to switch off is amazing when refocussing and solving problems.
What could be better for stress relief than getting away from everything for a night or two? Camping is a popular choice for retreats and holidays for this very reason. Your electricity/device use is limited and you get a chance to spend some time in nature. Few activities give you a better chance to completely unplug. Find a suitable spot in a beautiful area and just relax. This activity removes many of the most prevalent stress triggers in the modern world. No traffic, work meetings or hustle and bustle. Just you, a tent and your favourite travelling companions.
As technology has improved in this area it’s become safer and easier to camp all year round. From tents with built in stoves to sleeping bags that double up as jackets, there’s something to convert anyone to the joys of camping. Always remember basic safety when camping no matter what time of year you go. Always let someone know where you’re going and don’t overestimate your abilities!
One of the most rewarding ways to switch off and unwind after a hard week is through one of the oldest pastimes in the world, fishing. Humans have been fishing for recreation for millenia and once you’ve tried it, it’s easy to see why.
Sitting on a boat in pristine environments, with a friend or by yourself, is absolutely serene. Studies have suggested the hobby could be used to help treat anxiety. Whether or not you catch anything, it’s a great excuse to get outside and get some time to decompress. There are many disciplines and it’s deceptively cheap to get started. Give it a try and feel the stress evaporate! Again it’s important to remember to look after yourself physically here. Dress appropriately and ensure you bring appropriate first aid equipment.
You’re now prepared with new ways to tackle stress in the great outdoors. Have a look through our other blogs for more great outdoor inspiration and subscribe to our mailing list for updates on what we have been up to at Ghillied HQ!