Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Nature and Mental Wellness

I just went for a 20 minute walk and it was wonderful. It's a beautiful day outside - the sun is shining, the weather is mild and the air is sweet, flowers are blooming, and it felt good just to be outside and moving.

I forget sometimes just how good being outside can be for a person's mental health. I forget sometimes how good physical exercise is for a person's mental health.

Recently I took a break from my three times a week running habit. I figured doing yoga and lifting weights at home would be good enough for awhile, and I would use the time to hang out with my daughter instead. It was a good idea for a couple of weeks, because Caitlin and I went hiking a few times, which was great. But then we got busy, and hiking stopped happening. Consequently, I wasn't getting outside almost at all - and I felt a huge difference in my mood and attitude. Both plummeted extremely quickly. I felt short-tempered, irritated by everything, and extremely short on patience. There was absolutely no go-with-the-flow for a couple of weeks. I behaved in ways that I am now embarrassed by - to complete strangers and to people that are dear to me. Hence my last post about feeling stressed and out-of-balance.

I started running again last week - a total of one single mile last week, and so far only 2.25 miles this week - but that combined with the daily walk I am now taking on my morning break at work has caused an amazing turnaround in my mood, attitude and behavior. I feel more calm, less scattered and overwhelmed, less overworked, more able to handle everyday stressors, and more accepting of things that just a week ago seemed completely unacceptable to me. The change has been, simply put, astounding. The fact that such a small and simple change can have such a huge impact on my life is just amazing to me.

Being outside is healing, a balm to the soul and an antidote to the stress of daily life. It causes an uplift in mood, an increase in the ability to focus, and higher levels of general happiness among other things. Our connection to the natural world around us - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual - is undeniable.

I am glad to be back in the land of the living - from now on I will remember how important it is to get my daily dose of Mother Nature.

Happy Wednesday - I hope you get to play outside today!

And now here's a pretty picture for your viewing pleasure.

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