With the rise of social media, streaming services, and work-from-home employment, many people spend much of their time indoors. While these advancements make work, socializing, and entertainment easier and cheaper, some people have found they spend only a fraction of their time outside. Spending too much time inside can lead to depression, anxiety, and physical issues.
Depression and anxiety can develop into mental health disorders, such as substance use disorder (SUD). The COVID-19 pandemic brought a spike in SUDs, especially in liquor consumption. Many noticed loved ones exhibiting signs of alcohol abuse, such as lying about their drinking.
While we know the outdoors are good for us — lots of fresh air, vitamin D, and exercise — it can be a challenge to motivate yourself to get going if you’ve been acclimated to a primarily indoor lifestyle. If you need some inspiration on what to do, we will explore six ways to spend time outside.
Dangers of Spending Too Much Time Inside
Those who stay inside for long periods may experience a range of physical and mental health issues. Even though a nice night inside with Netflix and food delivered from a courier app sounds appealing (and is perfectly normal in moderation), too much sitting or lying around in front of screens is not good for you.
The National Library of Medicine detailed the adverse effects of prolonged sitting in a 2017 report. They found that extended hours of sitting can increase the risk of:
- Cardio-metabolic disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary artery disease
- Muscle and skeletal disorders
- Different sorts of cancer
The Better Health Channel describes sitting as the new smoking. Along with the above physical issues, sitting inside for hours can affect your mental state. Those who sit for long hours at a time have a higher risk of depression and anxiety. This can be due to a lack of endorphins physical activity creates. Endorphins are chemicals that generate feelings of joy and happiness when released throughout the body.
Ways To Spend Time Outside
As human beings, we have a primal need for fresh air and sunlight. The benefits of these two natural outside gifts are often overlooked. Being in the sun and breathing in the fresh air, even for a small amount of time, brings about significant changes in the mind and the body.
Some benefits of being outside are:
- avoiding and shortening respiratory infections
- disinfecting fabric and linen of clothes
- synthesizing vitamin D
- regulating cholesterol levels
- boosting mood
Here are six easy ways to enjoy the outdoors.
1. Have a Picnic
A picnic is one of the most traditional ways to enjoy the sunshine. Gather some friends and spilt food responsibilities so everyone can bring something different. Pack a hacky sack, frisbee, or football to enjoy some physical activity before or after the meal.
2. Start a Garden
Gardening, in any capacity, involves some physical activity and patience, something that a TV won’t usually provide. Seeing a bundle of grapes or a bright tomato you harvested brings a sense of purpose, and can also make for a great ingredient or snack later!
3. Take Your Lunch Break Outside
For those who work inside, such as at home or in an office, enjoying your lunch break outside is an easy way to get some fresh air. Find a nearby bench, picnic table, or park and take a small walk after the meal. This usually revitalizes energy and can make for a productive second half of the work day.
4. Workout Outside
Many who engage in daily physical activity like to do so in gyms or clubs. While moving the body in any setting is beneficial, taking a workout outside can be a great way to soak up the sun and break a sweat at the same time.
5. Take Some Nature Photographs
Going on a photo walk around your neighborhood sparks creativity and gets the body moving. You can take it a step further and drive out to a state park and take pictures of birds, insects, or trees. You don’t need an expensive camera — your smartphone or disposable camera will work fine!
6. Watch the Sunset
Watching the sunset is one of nature’s most visually pleasing gifts. People go to vista points across the nation to marvel at the skyline but don’t realize they are receiving natural benefits. It can also bring peace of mind after a long workday or distressing situation.
Finding Encouragement To Go Outside
It can be hard to find the motivation to start a routine of going outside. If you feel hesitant, try asking a friend to accompany you. You don’t have to go on an all-day adventure — a simple walk around your city is quite effective.