Taking a Break out in Nature Helps Your Mind and Body

Taking a Break out in Nature Helps Your Mind and Body

Lee esto en EspañolFor many people, long summer days are when the travel bug bites. But you don’t have to jump on a plane or take an epic road trip to get away. Sometimes all it takes to rest and recharge is getting outdoors.

Chances are, there are many places not too far from home that you’ve yet to explore. A staycation or local adventure can be just the ticket.

If you do travel, it’s still vital to play it safe. It’s important to follow safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention And steps for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic can change, so be sure to do your research.

Just Get Outside

Studies show that getting outside, and getting out of your routine, can help your mind and body. You have lots of options. You can hike or go camping. Or you can explore a park, nature area or botanical garden in your area. Or you can start your own garden. Even if your outdoor space is small, the payoff can be big.

Just do your best to take a break and get outside, says pediatrician Dr. Nooshin Razani of the Center for Nature & Health Her ideas:

  • Hug a tree. “Forest bathing,” a short trip to a forest for relaxation, has been shown   to help boost the immune system.
  • Put your feet in the dirt or sand.
  • Just walk. And play in any place you can.

The benefits of being outdoors are many, says the Healthy Parks, Healthy People effort of the National Parks Service.   Being in nature: 

  • Helps improve focus, mental function and recall
  • Encourages more frequent exercising
  • Boosts the immune system, which lowers the chance of some health problems and cancers
  • Helps wellbeing by lowering stress and improving mood
Get a Boost from Time Off

Taking a vacation or staycation, even a short one, can help your body in all kinds of ways. Time away from your normal routine:

  • Lowers stress
  • Improves your mood
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Improves your focus
  • Helps your body recharge
  • Boosts your relationships 
Try Something New

You can also take up one of the top outdoor activities:

  • Running
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking

Skateboarding, triathlons and bird watching are also hot, says the Wilderness Society “Being out and enjoying the natural world provides physical as well as mental health benefits,” says the group, which promotes proper use of public land.

The great outdoors offers many chances to be active. Talk to your doctor first if you’re not already physically active. And remember to plan for safety. Protect your skin from too much sun, bring plenty of water and the right equipment for your activity. 

Be a Good Neighbor

Don’t forget to think of others — animals, people and the land — when you’re enjoying the great outdoors.

“As we spend time outdoors, in the natural world and in wilderness, it’s important to be conscious of the effects our actions may have on plants, animals, other people, and even entire ecosystems,” says the National Park Service.

Planning, following rules and doing things the right way can help lessen any harmful impact. Learn how you can be a good neighbor   while you enjoy your outdoor activities.

Sources: Traveler's Health  Are There Benefits to Spending Time Outdoors?,   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Outdoor Recreation FAQs,   The Wilderness Society; Coronavirus Care – Hug a Tree, It’s Good for You,   Center for Nature & Health, 2020; Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function,   Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, 2010; Healthy Parks, Healthy People,   National Parks Service, 2021; How Vacation Affects Your Body,   WebMD, 2019; Leave No Trace Seven Principles,   National Park Service, 2018

Originally published 05/26/2021; Revised 2022