Stressed, irritable and burnt out.
That’s how I felt those last few days. Not even my usual yoga and meditation practice could do much to improve my mood.
I also felt isolated from my boyfriend. Our weekly date had become collateral damage to the other, more-pressing, things in both our lives.
The sky was so blue that Wednesday morning, mocking me with its happy fluffy clouds and overall vibrance.
I wanted to go back to bed. But my boyfriend suggested we play hooky from life and try to spend some time together
Reluctantly, I agreed. I’m glad I did because as we drove through the miles and miles of coconut trees to get to the beach my mood improved.
We barely spent 2 hours at the beach itself, less than half that time in the water (the waves were really rough that day). But even so, we both got back home feeling happier, renewed and more connected.
Apparently we’re not alone in feeling like this.
It turns out spending time in nature has amazing benefits for our mind, bodies and spirit.
According to several studies, spending time in nature can significantly decrease stress. The participants in these studies had lower levels of cortisol (the hormone that’s used as a marker for stress) and a lowered heart rate (less anxiety).
Outdoor time can also reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is linked to autoimmune disorder, IBS, hypertension, depression and even cancer!
The burnt out, irritable feelings I had are so common that it’s actually being researched.
It’s referred to as fatigue and, as I inadvertently found out, spending time in nature can help with it.
Walking among some trees, having a picnic, or strolling along the shore is shown to increase focus, creativity and self-esteem.
Nature therapy may just be the perfect antidote to the fatigue and burn out so many of us report feeling- it’s free, readily available, and has zero side effects.
Studies in Japan even show that their practice of forest bathing is associated with a lower risk of early death.
We all want longer, healthier lives, don’t we?
So carve out some time this week to visit your favorite park, hiking trail or beach.
You’ll literally be happier and healthier if you do.
If you’d like to learn more about the health benefits of spending time in nature, check out this Business Insider article.