This is the perfect time of year to boost your happiness by going outside every day. What's amazing is you don't have to spend hours outdoors in order to receive the happiness benefits. Just a few minutes each day is usually enough to make a big difference in our levels of happiness and energy.
Going outside is free. It's easy. And it offers some pretty significant benefits to our health. Here are just 3 of the reasons to put going outside on your daily calendar starting this week.
1-You Need Sunlight to Make Vitamin D
Your body makes vitamin D while you're out in the sun. Researchers believe at least 1 billion people suffer from vitamin D deficiency. When we don't get enough vitamin D, we can begin to experience symptoms of a vitamin deficiency, such as fatigue, increased vulnerability to illness, back pain, and even depression.
OMG! All those things would make it difficult for anyone to experience happiness. The great news is that all you have to do to "right the ship" so to speak is to start spending time outside. Try to spend at least 15 minutes outdoors at a time of day when the sun is high in the sky. At least 15 minutes on a daily basis is enough for many people to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D. The darker your skin is, the longer you need to be in the sun to create vitamin D.
2-Nature Brings Us Peace
The sound of the wind in the trees or waves gently lapping the shore can ease tension in our bodies and help us relax and forget about daily worries. Watching living creatures like birds, butterflies, and even fish can lower our stress levels and help us remember how big and beautiful our world is.
Going outside also allows us to mentally clock out and get away from our computer screens. Staring at something only a few inches from our faces for long periods of time can stress our eyes. Taking a walk outside allows our eyes to focus on objects far away and lets those muscles we use on the computer have a rest.
3-Nature Allows Us Opportunities to Connect
Another benefit to spending time in nature is it allows us opportunities to authentically connect with others. Take a friend or loved one on a picnic and notice the difference in the way you connect while you're out and away from distractions like your computer and TV.
Try leaving your phone in the car or in a bag where you won't be tempted to keep checking it. Be present in nature, in the moment shared with your friend or loved one. Those authentic connections also allow us opportunities to relax and ease stresses we may be feeling. They also allow us to create new memories with people we care about, which gives our happiness another boost every time we think back on those great experiences.
Look at your calendar for this week and create opportunities to go outside. You can start small if you want, and just schedule yourself a fifteen minute break outside each day to drink your coffee, meditate, or people watch. After a week of doing this, see if you notice a difference in your mood. I predict you'll feel happier and more energetic.
Learn More About Nature and Happiness
For more research and tips on how nature can positively impact our happiness, check out Day 6: Nature: Step Outside for Happiness in my book 21 Days to Happiness.
Ms. Ingrid Kelada is an experienced psychologist and happiness expert in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is a speaker and has facilitated over 1000 workshops all over the world.
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