Health & Well-Being

Step Outside: Nature Heals the Mind and Body

It’s 3:45 P.M. Do you know where your energy is?

If you’re feeling sluggish and burned out mentally and physically during the day, it might be due to the lack of nature in your life.

A Natural Investment

How can something as simple as spending time in nature have such a big impact?

Many of us spend our days indoors, sheltered from the natural world around us. At our very basic level, we are mammals meant to function by the rise and fall of the sun, the phases of the moon, and the climate in which we reside.

Whether you spend your working (waking) hours behind the glow of a computer screen or preparing meals as a chef at a restaurant, you’re missing Mother Nature’s beauty — and the health benefits that come with it.

You can reap the rewards of your outdoor environment from almost anywhere — and it’s free. Plus, time invested outdoors pays you back better than any 401K can.

Three Ways Nature Heals the Mind and Body

1. Birdsongs Relieve Anxiety

Studies have shown listening to the melodies and songs of our feathered friends can decrease anxiety and paranoia in adults and children. Hearing the call of backyard birds also relieves exhaustion and replenishes cognitive performance.

Scientists believe there are numerous reasons the songs of our feathered friends rejuvenate us.

One is that we associate the happy calls with safety; hence, when there is danger, birds will not call.

Listening to birdsongs also allows us to passively focus on a pleasant sound, helping us tune out other stressors.

The next time you feel overworked and anxious, take some time to listen to the avian symphony playing right outside your window.

2. Walking Outside Reduces More Stress than Exercising Indoors

Exercise reduces the negative impacts of stress. When you engage in an aerobic activity, the body slows down its release of stress-inducing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and switches over to producing the “good stuff”: Endorphins, which naturally manage pain and boost your mood.

But when you pair exercise with nature, you get a double dose of health benefits.

Immersing yourself in nature reduces activity in the amygdala, the neural system processing fearful and threatening stimuli.

When you exercise outdoors — even if it’s just for a short walk — you’ll notice a lightness in your heart and a pep in your step.

You’ll feel like you can take on the world!

3. The Sun Boosts Mood and Improves Sleep

Did you know that spending time in the sunshine combats depression?

The sun is known to release serotonin, a hormone that boosts your mood, aids in digestion, improves wound-healing, and more. And serotonin also works alongside melatonin, a hormone released at night when the sun goes down that tells your body it’s time to sleep.

When you have ample amounts of serotonin, your insomnia will quickly be a thing of the past.

Another sunny benefit is Vitamin D. Many of us are deficient in this critical vitamin that reduces inflammation and fine-tunes cell growth.

Try spending at least 15 minutes a day in the sunshine to start noticing the health benefits. Don’t forget sunscreen!

Plus, the sun warming your skin triggers the release of nitric oxide into the body, which lowers blood pressure and improves heart health.

Make it a point to get out of that chair and walk outside. Instead of tapping on that social media app when you have a 15-minute break, get up and walk out the door.

Mother Nature will embrace you with her fresh air, warm sunshine, colorful flora, and gracious fauna. And, when your visit is over, you’ll leave with a lighter heart, clearer mind, and healthier body.


Jen Hasson

Jen Hasson is a Yoga Alliance Certified 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and owner of, a yoga and lifestyle blog. You can follow her on instagram @down_dog_in_the_desert.

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