“When was the last time you spent an entire day outside?”
That’s a line from a movie I saw a while ago. I can’t even remember the name of the movie, but the line has always stuck with me and I think of it often. It popped into my head again recently when I read a statistic that Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors (although our long Minnesota winters don’t help much!).
Numerous recent studies are showing that spending time in nature, parks, sunshine, and green environments are critical to our health and well-being. Researchers have shown that when our skin is exposed to the sun’s rays, a compound is released in our blood vessels that helps lower blood pressure, which in turn lowers risk of heart disease and stroke. Sunshine exposure also helps to benefit skin disorders, boost mood, reduce depression, and strengthen the immune system.
Research is also showing that children who play and explore outdoors are less stressed and may further benefit by gaining confidence and learning social skills. Spending time in any natural settings, even just 15 minutes in an urban park, can reduce stress, improve mental health, and lower blood pressure for adults and children alike.
So take a break today and go outside. We don’t always have the luxury of taking a whole day, and if a minute or two is all you have, it’s enough. It doesn’t have to be a park ~ your backyard or front step will work. Turn off your phone. Step away from your desk, computer, office, couch, television, laundry pile, to-do list… Go outside. Turn your face towards the sun. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Feel the wind against your skin. Hear the birds sing. Let go of what happened earlier today, or what’s coming next. Take another deep breath. Let it go. Soak in the healing power of Mother Nature.