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Need To Energize Your Mind? Try Some Outside Time

 

One of my pet theories has always been how time spent outdoors may boost mental health. Of course the outdoors is our playground for exercise and sports, but have you ever thought about how much better you feel when you get outdoors on a regular basis?

I discovered this early on. When I became mentally bogged down in a project, a little time outdoors could do the most to energize my thinking and make me laugh. Soon the ideas were flowing and every thing worked better.

Over the years I found it worked in all sorts of situations. If my kids were having a bad day and I was becoming crabby too, we often headed for the park or the beach and always came back grinning. When I helped older relatives and the day was not going well, a little time on the patio often cut right through the gloom and saved the day.

Now Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has published a study that shows time spent outdoors in nature transforms the brain and reduces the risk of mental illness. Meanwhile scientists at Stanford University worked with several colleagues to understand why the increasing trend to live in cities is linked to an increase in mental illness. They said their study results suggest that available natural areas may be vital for mental health in a rapidly urbanizing world.

Another British study found that people who lived in forested areas are less likely to be taking anti-depressant medications. In some ways this all seems fairly obvious, but with so much research being done, adding more outdoor time may be worth a try. Where could you insert a few minutes before breakfast, during lunch or after work to soak up some of that outdoor peace?

For me this meant adding an outdoor room that is really a patio retreat. By adding pillows, bench, mats, rocks, stones, shells and a few pieces of blown glass, along with a bunch of hardy plants, it soon served to soothe my frayed thoughts, and act as a very effective barrier to menacing headaches. Instead, I just disappeared for a few minutes and absorbed the breezes, absolute quiet and total outdoor magic.

If this sounds good to you, invent your version and enjoy. It could be a patio, backyard, or favored spot in the park. If it works you will know it soon enough. You will be the one smiling.

 

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Eugene Kim

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