The outdoors is the best prescription for better health.
Venturing outside has many different benefits aside from getting your exercise, taking in vitamin D and clearing your mind. I want you to ask yourself this question: Have you ever gone outside and just felt happier? Well, I am here to explain to you why that happens.
1. The Outdoors Increases Your Negative Ions
We are constantly surrounded by the battle of positive and negative ions every day, a battle that we don’t even realize is happening (unless you’re a science nerd like me and think about this stuff all the time). Sounds backwards, I know, but positive ions are the bad guys!
What are positive ions?
Positive ions are carbon dioxide molecules that have been stripped of an electron. This type of ion causes adverse effects on our body such as anxiety & depression, lowering your immune system, irritability, lack of energy and asthma.
Where do they come from?
Most positive ions come from high electricity such as computers, televisions, air conditioning systems, clothes dryers… basically anything that puts out a lot of power produces the most positive ions. Negative ions do the complete opposite! They help increase your mood and energy levels and are positively beneficial to your health.
How do negative ions fight off positive ions?
Since the negative ions have a charged electron, they attach themselves to the positive ions (which are particles such as dust, mold and other pollutants). Being out in nature and having plants in your home offers you an abundance of negative ions. For example, have you ever gone hiking, or been near a waterfall and just felt happier and better? (I hope so!) Or even felt refreshed after a thunderstorm has passed? The reason for this is because nature and flowing water produce the most negative ions.
2. The Outdoors Teaches You About Yourself
If you haven’t figured this out already, you need to! When I started wandering outside, I went solo. I know people say that it is dangerous and not smart, but doing so taught me a lot about myself. Explore not just the place, but learn your strengths and weaknesses and train yourself to trust your instincts. These skills are things we learn when we are kids, but we start to lose track of them as we grow up. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help lower your cortisol levels. (PS- apparently in the study it also showed an even more significant decrease in cortisol levels for gardeners!) Grounding yourself is something we always did as a kid, we just didn’t realize it.
What is grounding?
Not only is being outside a refreshing feeling but it is FREE! Grounding is simple – all you do is take your shoes and socks off and walk around in the grass, mud, and dirt. The ground is full of negative electrons from the Earth. Grounding has been shown to reduce pain, inflammation and improve sleep. I used to see a therapist, and she helped me with a lot but once I started spending time outside, I realized the best therapy is nature – emotionally, mentally and physically! If you think about when you buy a picture for your home or office, what do you typically buy? More times than not we see photos of landscapes and nature everywhere we go. The cognitive benefits of even looking at a picture or painting of the outdoors cheer us up! So, find some time in your busy schedule to get outside, even if it’s for 30 minutes a day.