The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and spring is finally here! It’s time to rid yourself of the winter blues and spend more time outdoors doing enjoyable activities. Spring is an excellent time to relieve stress and improve mental wellness. “Spring cleaning” doesn’t have to refer to cleaning out the garage; spring cleaning can be viewed as a time for a mental reboot and goal reevaluation. One of the ways to contribute to this idea is by spending more time outdoors. Spending time outdoors can help provide clarity, awaken your inner child, and boost your mental well-being.
Why is it so important for our mental health to spend time outdoors? Natural settings drastically improve individuals’ mental well-being including levels of happiness, alertness, and life satisfaction. One specific psychological theory, Attention Restoration Theory, suggests that spending time in natural settings helps to restore cognitive capacity. Whether hiking in the park, journaling on the lakeside, or simply taking a few moments every day to mindfully breathe in the outdoor air, time spent outdoors can significantly improve our lives.
Choose one or more fun activities from below to do when the weather warms up!
Journal or read outdoors
Check out a book from the local library and take it to the park to read outside. Journaling can also be a very contemplative and reflective practice. If you live near the ocean or lakeside, try taking your journaling experience to the waterside. One researcher studied the effects of lakeshore settings on mental health and found happiness and alertness traits significantly improved as individuals spent time in natural settings.
Organize an outdoor sports event
How about a tennis tournament or softball game between all of your friends on a sunny Saturday morning? Healthy competition can be a great way to start off the spring season.
Exercise! Walk the dog, go on a hike, or take a walk around the neighborhood
Fitness is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress. Go for a jog around the park or explore a new hiking trail. Bring your pet for an enjoyable exercise experience outdoors. One study researched the potential mental health benefits of outdoor and adventure activity; it found that mindfulness and life satisfaction scores improved as mental stress decreased as participants spent an extended period of time hiking outdoors.
Pack a picnic and head to the park
Springtime brings thoughts of flowers, picnics, and sunshine. Why not incorporate all three of these images in one springtime activity? There are a variety of fun picnic ideas online to please everyone’s tastes. Call your closest friends or family members and invite them to sprawl out on a big blanket in the park. Indulge in fresh fruit, drinks, and homemade sandwiches as the sun rays bring joy and gratitude to the picnic.
Plant a vegetable garden
Creating a garden is one of the most rewarding and pleasant experiences one can have outdoors. It brings pride when your hard work comes to fruition in the form of delicious vegetables. Once your vegetables, like lettuce and carrots grow, make a salad and use it in a picnic! Many schools are incorporating food gardens to show students the importance of sustainability, land cultivation, and experiential outdoor activity. The use of community and individual gardens can be a very useful therapeutic tool.
Take an adventure around your own city
Many people get comfortable in their city and forget the hidden gems around every corner. Whether you live in a big city or small town, there are bound to be many outdoor activities. Research free concerts in the park, outdoor shopping malls, or famous landmarks. It can be a fun and new experience to play tourist in your own city, especially as the weather warms up.
Watch the sunrise or sunset
This activity requires a little planning, but not much. Check the time of the sunrise or sunset in your town and stake out a good viewing place. Rooftops, oceanside, or atop a hill after a nice hike can be perfect locations to see the beautiful golden orange rays of the sun as the day begins or ends.
Doesn’t pitching a tent, sleeping underneath the stars, and cooking your own food sound like a therapeutic experience? If not, perhaps day camping is a good beginning. You can still watch the stars, hike, fish, and make your own food without spending a night out in the wilderness. Camping provides many valuable lessons in mastery, self-esteem, and social connectedness.