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Hi, my name is Nichole Matthews. I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Therapist with Thriveworks. And today I’ve been posed the question, “What are some of the benefits of being outdoors during COVID 19?”
This is a great question and I’m excited to share some of my thoughts and perspectives about it. Before I do that, I just want to quickly acknowledge that there may be some of you, there probably are several of you who aren’t able to go outside right now for whatever reasons, whether it’s health reasons or someone in your family at risk or you don’t have the space to do this safely. I want to say that it’s okay to stay inside and keep you and your loved one and other people safe. And I’m going to give you some tips in a moment to bring outdoors into you.
I want to start off with immediate benefits of being outdoors are increased awareness decrease of stress, anxiety, lifting up the mood and relieving of depression symptoms. And these things tend to happen pretty quickly. The moment that we start to go outside and pay attention to what’s going on in nature. It’s been scientifically proven that when we connect with the earth and the sounds of nature and observe all of nature and its splendor our body will start to really release those natural happy chemicals that we make on our own. Serotonin, dopamine, all those kinds of things that help you feel better and will regulate your mood a bit.
So if you’re like me and kind of tired of being stuck indoors, I’m very thankful that I have the opportunity to be home and keep working. I do need to get up multiple times a day and I’ve been doing many walking meditations outside and what I do is just engage my senses. So I’m paying attention to what I’m seeing, what I’m hearing, what I’m smelling, and what I might be tasting.
And when I do all that at once and pay attention to it, I automatically start to feel calm and my mood lightens. And I just feel overall better. So nature is a great mindfulness tool to engage all of the senses. And if you’re unable to go outside, what I suggest that you do is find a quiet spot in your home for a few moments, how many ever moments you’re able to grab.
Whether you lay down on a bed or get cozy in a chair, try to close your eyes if you can and make the lights dim, but use your headphones or whatever device that you might have available to you to access a YouTube. There are multiple just free resources available to you where you can listen to guided meditations with nature sounds or just nature sounds on their own. Your mind is super powerful and it will start to do all that work for you.
If you allow yourself to pay attention to the sounds of the babbling Brook or the birds or the trees and the wind and all of that. So your brain will take over and you’ll notice that you start to feel a little bit better pretty quickly.
So these are some easy things that we can do during this uncertain time and know anxieties are high around our country and the world. And so these are simple things that you can do. And the most important thing is to practice self-compassion loving kindness for yourself so that we can continue to give that out to others who are struggling right now.