5 Mental Health Perks Of Getting Outside This Summer

Summer is just around the corner and that means it’s time to start planning some adventures, trips, and more. Whether you want to explore colorful Colorado or other places, there’s always the opportunity to opt outdoors. Or maybe you’re not the type to want to get outside.  Maybe you enjoy spending time in the comfort of your air-conditioned home during the summer.  If that’s the case, this blog will help persuade you otherwise. In this blog, we’ll explain some of the mental health perks you can reap from staying active and enjoying the great outdoors this summer.

1.) Sunshine and Vitamin D

One of the first perks you can get from being outdoors this summer is Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is an important vitamin that you can get from spending time in the sun (and let’s face it, Colorado has a lot of that).  Vitamin D plays a role in maintaining the health of bones and teeth.  It also helps to support your brain, nervous, and immune systems.  Lastly, it can even decrease the chance for cancer development over time. With all of these things being said, doesn’t that make you happy?  If it doesn’t, that’s okay – because as long as you’re in the sun, you’ll notice that Vitamin D also improves your mood.  So get out there and catch some rays…but remember to wear your sunscreen!

2.) Feelings of Accomplishment

Summer can also help boost your mental health by presenting you with lots of opportunities to accomplish things.  For instance, maybe you have your sites set on climbing a mountain, hiking a new trail, or running a marathon.  Or maybe it’s something such as golfing 18 holes, swimming laps in the pool, or mountain biking.  Whatever it may be, when you set a goal and you do it, this inevitably leads to feeling accomplished.  It also means you can then relax on the couch later while watching Netflix without feeling guilty. And isn’t that something that everyone wants to do at the end of a long day?

3.) Boosts Serotonin and Endorphins

Another great thing about getting outdoors is that it enables you to be active.  When you’re active, your brain releases two extremely important chemicals called serotonin and endorphins.  Serotonin is known to be a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood and social behavior.  The more Serotonin you have in the brain, the better. And luckily sunlight and staying active contribute to getting more of these happy neurotransmitters.  As many of you may already know, exercise and staying active also produces more endorphins in your body.  Endorphins help in reducing pain, which in turn can make you feel better.  They also promote sleep, self-esteem, and makes activities more pleasurable.  So keep in mind that the more active you stay in the summertime (and year-round of course), the happier you will most likely be.

4.) The “Awe” Effect

Another mental health benefit of getting out into the wilderness this summer is that it allows for a phenomenon called, The “Awe” Effect to occur.  The “Awe” Effect happens when you see something jaw-dropping or mesmerizing for the very first time.  Let’s say you take a trip to Yellowstone National Park and you happen to see the famous geyser, “Old Faithful”.  This can elicit a reaction of shock and “awe”.  This, in turn, creates a perspective that some might consider positive.  For instance, it may give you a feeling of gratefulness to see something in this lifetime that is so beautiful and mighty.  Or perhaps it gives you perspective of how big the world is and how lucky you are to be alive in it.  Typically, for most, people tend to have a positive reaction of some sort when they see something special and new for the first time.

5.) Feeling Free

Lastly, getting outdoors during the summer can free you from the constraints of work, school, appointments, etc.  It helps you to diffuse from the stress of routine based activities and gives you the opportunity to find some clarity.  Let’s face it, for most of us, peace and quiet isn’t something that we get a lot of during our weekly activities.  However, when you are outdoors, this offers a chance to have tranquil moments and unwind from stressful events.  It perhaps offers a chance to dive deeper into an unknown territory of emotions.  Or maybe it just gives you a chance to breathe.  It simply gives you a break and provides an opportunity to unwind from the busy life you have.

Obviously, there are many more benefits and perks of getting outdoors and staying active this summer but this at least gives us a place to start.  So what are you waiting for?  The great outdoors is calling – get out there and have some fun!  Here’s to a happy, safe, and healthy summer!

Want to get outdoors this summer?  Click below for more information about our Wilderness Therapy programs.