I was talking to a colleague the other day over this whole epidemic of anxiety that we are having in our world at the moment. I have spent lots of time focusing on the primaeval mind and how we have nothing truly to be afraid of, which is true and can easily lead our mind to focus on irrational fears instead. Today we are looking at how another thing in our present day society could be affecting our stress levels and how we now live our lives in a very different way then we used to, which is now impacting our anxiety levels.
One key thing that many of us miss now is being outdoors, work, travelling to work, home life, school, the gym all of these things are indoors. Two hundred years ago and beyond this wouldn’t have been the case, we had to be outdoors, we needed to farm the fields, find water, no cars to travel in so we had to walk, school was more about life skills then a classroom and work was, in the majority, more manual and outdoors. Also how much more do we live in our heads or in a fantasy world in the tv, computers, phones and gaming? Our mind doesn’t find it easy to separate these things out. Not in a way that our background thoughts define us, just for the fact that our nervous system will respond as if it’s real. We already know that trauma will detach and disconnect us from the world as we retreat inside of ourselves to try and hide from the world. If we are living this way, stuck inside ourselves, we are not truly connected to the earth, you might be thinking well why would it matter, but it really does.
The extremes of this are space travel it is well documented that our bodies and minds don’t cope well without the gravitational pull of our planet beneath our feet. Plus, the lack of sunlight and isolation from people has a big impact on the mood, stress levels, mental and emotional wellbeing. Not many of us are going to be astronauts and live out in space for months or even years, but if we are detached from our society, or not getting outdoors much this could be impacting us. We do know that if we are not getting enough sun exposure then our vitamin D levels can be low and the issues of this can cause fatigue and depression. We have also seen of the last few years the issues of too much screen time can have a negative effect on our mental health. But also, if we’re inside watching tv, we’re not living in our beautiful world and getting the grounding I think we all need from our planet. I am sure at one time or another we have all not felt great and maybe a friend or family member has dragged us out for a walk. Even if it’s just the fresh breeze or sunshine on our face, or maybe it’s the sounds of the birds or just the sense of peace we experience. This will also help us get out of the solitude of our thoughts and head, connecting us with things. It’s time to admit that most of us do feel better after getting outside, how often have we heard people say, getting lots of fresh air by the sea often helps people about sleeping better.
It’s not just me saying this, with many people spending workdays indoors under fluorescent lights and in front of computers, then return home to bask in the glow of television screens. There is now research that suggests it’s important to make time to get outdoors as well, since doing so is beneficial, maybe even essential for human health. Psychologists and health researchers are finding more and more science-backed reasons we should go outside and enjoy the natural world. An exciting fact for people with anxiety is that in studies of people camping outdoors for a couple of days showed that they had reduced levels of cortisol. Higher than normal cortisol levels have a massive link with higher levels of stress and anxiety. There have also been links into boosting your mood and memory by being outside more, with other studies saying it improves your immune system and helps fight infections as it lowers your inflammation levels. These are exciting benefits, something we should all start to bring into our lives, our children’s lives, plus our family’s and our friends lives too.
This time of year is the ideal time to set new goals and get yourself outdoors more and start being more active. You will feel the benefits in many ways, from just getting your body moving more, those natural endorphins giving you a lift, extra vitamin D to name a few. Also, the non-real world of Tv’s and computers that we touched on in the first part of this blog will be left behind too, so in fact, it will be a double whammy. Our bodies have evolved to live on the earth not hover over them, in cars, houses, office blocks etc., and now it is time to honour who we are and live a more grounded life. I am not saying rushing out in the midday sun is the way and you don’t have to overexpose yourself to the sunrays without adequate protection, but how about a picnic on the park for your lunch break or better still plan to meet up with friends and family and enjoy the time together. If everyone brought a food contribution you would have a great easy to manage a day out, we often don’t do things as it can seem too much hard work but sharing the load makes it easy.
If you have young children you can get some pots and plants, help your children plant some flowers and take the time with them every day to water and care for them. Sometimes the simple things give us the most pleasure, even just to create a shaded area to chill in, in the garden and drag the family outdoors is a great start to get you and your family enjoying the benefits of being outdoors. Staying grounded and enjoying our world is free and fun, with all these fantastic benefits now is the time to start forming great habits that you can continue to enjoy for the rest of your life.
Thanks for dropping by Sara x