The Mental Health Benefits of Going Outside

When you think about taking care of your mental health, you most likely think about therapy and medication. However, there is another powerful resource that most of us forget about: nature. Exploring the outdoors and engaging in physical activity not only benefits our physical health, but also has a profound positive impact on our mental well-being. In a fast-paced digital world where many of us spend a large amount of time indoors looking at screens, the mental health benefits of simply going outside need to be explored. Let’s dive in!

Nature: your mental health ally

There's something inherently soothing about the great outdoors. Numerous studies have shown that spending time in nature has a calming effect on our minds and bodies. The presence of green spaces, whether it's a park, a forest, or a garden, has been linked to reduced stress levels and improved overall mental well-being. Nature provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, allowing us to disconnect from screens and reconnect with the natural world.

Additionally, being in nature promotes mindfulness and relaxation. The serene beauty of natural environments helps us shift our focus from intrusive thoughts and worries to the present moment. Activities such as walking through a forest, sitting by a lake, or simply observing the intricate details of a flower can create a sense of peace and tranquility. Research has shown that these nature-based activities can effectively reduce anxiety and improve mood, providing a much-needed respite for our minds.

Enhance the benefits of physical activity by going outdoors

It's no secret that physical activity is beneficial for our physical health, but its impact on mental well-being is equally significant. Engaging in regular exercise has been linked to improved mood, reduced stress levels, and increased self-esteem. When we exercise, our brains release endorphins, which are natural chemicals that boost our mood and create a sense of happiness and well-being. These endorphins act as natural antidepressants and can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

You probably knew that, but did you know that taking your physical activity outdoors amplifies its mental health benefits? The combination of fresh air, natural light, and the ever-changing scenery can enhance the exercise experience and further elevate your mood. Outdoor activities such as hiking, jogging, cycling, and gardening offer a dual advantage by combining the physical benefits of exercise with the mental rejuvenation provided by nature. They provide a sense of freedom, adventure, and connection to the natural world that can't be replicated indoors. The combination of movement and nature creates a harmonious synergy that revitalizes our minds and nurtures our souls.

Don’t forget vitamin D!

Furthermore, exposure to sunlight during outdoor activities allows our bodies to produce vitamin D, a crucial nutrient that plays a role in mood regulation. Sunlight triggers the synthesis of vitamin D in our skin, which helps maintain healthy levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. By spending time outside, we can naturally replenish our vitamin D levels and support our mental health (although you should always wear sunscreen - it doesn’t prevent the absorption of vitamin D and will protect you from sun damage and skin cancer!).

Tips for incorporating outdoor activities into your daily life:

Incorporating outdoor activities into our daily lives doesn't have to be overwhelming. Here are a few practical tips to help you get started:

The great outdoors are waiting

In a world that often prioritizes productivity and digital presence over our well-being, it's essential to remember the immense mental health benefits of going outside and engaging in physical activity. Nature offers solace, peace, and a sanctuary for our minds. Physical activity releases endorphins, boosts our mood, and enhances our self-esteem. By combining the two, we create a powerful synergy that supports our mental well-being on multiple levels. Whether it's a leisurely walk in the park or an exhilarating hike in the mountains, the simple act of spending time in nature and being physically active can transform your mental well-being. Try it; find a way to get outside today and experience the profound mental health benefits it offers. Your mind and body will thank you!

Sometimes it’s not as easy as going outside or getting more exercise. If you need more support, Medens Health is here for you! With both in-person and video sessions in California and Nevada, you’re sure to find an option for therapy that works with your schedule. Reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new patient get started here.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.