We are lucky in this region to have beautiful parks and gardens full of glorious autumn colours to enjoy during this time of social isolation. With many of us feeling anxiety and fear getting out into nature can help calm us.
Spending time outdoors has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, calm you, and help with sleep, something we all need during these difficult times.
Getting vitamin D can elevate mood, improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Exposure to natural light can help with regulating your body’s melatonin production.
Melatonin is a hormone that controls your body’s internal clock and is affected by access to light. The right amount helps you get a good night’s sleep.
With many of us turning to social media and endlessly scrolling through feeds our anxiety levels can go up and concentration levels down.
Unplugging from it for a while each day can be helpful in relaxing and unwinding.
A study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that a natural environment allowed people to leave the stressors of their everyday lives behind and instead focus their minds on something more pure. By centring your mind, you can relax your body.
Being out in nature gives your brain time to recharge. When people are in a daydreaming state – something easier to achieve out in nature – their brains settle into what scientists call the default mode network. DMN is a complex circuit of coordinated communication between parts of the brain and is essential to mental processes that develop our understanding of human behaviour, instil an internal code of ethics, and help us realise our identities.
A recent Dutch study suggests that spending time in nature and performing repetitive tasks such as gardening can fight stress better than other leisure activities. In the study, one group of people was asked to read indoors after completing a stressful task while the other group was instructed to garden for 30 minutes. The gardeners not only reported being in a better mood than the readers, but also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
The exercise that generally goes hand-in-hand with spending time out of doors (walking, bike riding, etc.) spurs the production of endorphins, your brain’s ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters – this is the sensation often referred to as a ‘runner’s high’.
With increased endorphin levels, you’ll feel calmer, clearer headed and more relaxed.
So before winter sets in why not head out to some of our beautiful parks and gardens and take a deep breath and enjoy some of autumn’s display of colours!
By Sandy Scheltema