The warm days that have been teasing us off and on these past few weeks are the perfect glimpse into the new spring season that is upon us. More than that though, they are the ideal time to be outside. Winter doesn’t usually lend itself to being outdoors, and in the process of spending all that time inside, we lose the natural benefits of the sun, fresh air, interaction with plants and the natural endorphin release that comes from breathing it all in and being in nature. It’s time to put the winter blues aside and step outside into spring.
Aside from the bright skies and pretty flowers, you’ll be happy to know there are a few additional reasons why the great outdoors is so great:
- Japanese researchers have shown that “stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy.” The Japanese regularly walk forest trails and researchers are finding evidence to support that it offers decreases in cortisol, sympathetic nerve activity, and blood pressure.
- Natural settings reduce directed-attention fatigue, an issue caused by the brain having to constantly manage competing stimuli
- Recent research looked at the connection between soil and the gut microbiome, concluding that the soil biodiversity we are exposed to is decreasing and our rate of microbiome related lifestyle diseases is increasing
- Natural light exposure is required for adequate vitamin D, and also helps regulate your sleep schedule. The brain is cued by light changes for when to produce melatonin and elicit sleep.
Here’s the good news: getting the benefits of going outside doesn’t require you to spend hours on a hike or commit to devoting Saturday to Mother Nature: just 30 minutes of time outdoors can be enough to give you incredible physical and mental benefits. If you’re not sure what to do or where to start however, here are some outdoor activity ideas which are perfect for spring:
- Go for a walk – down the street, on a local trail, around your backyard. It doesn’t have to be long or to a destination, just incorporating movement is enough!
- Forage flowers – The next time you drive by a spot in nature that has nice flowers, stop and pick a few! Go for a walk around the area and see if you can forage a nature-made bouquet for your home. Not only will you get the benefits of being outdoors, but you will also be able to go home and bring the outdoors in!
- Move the Meet – Whether it is a meeting with colleagues or a meet-up with friends, take it outside. For a work meeting, opt to sit outside for coffee instead of in, or suggest a walking meeting. If you are meeting up with friends, think of an outdoor activity, such as a walk along the beach, frisbee in the park, or a walk through the local gardens.
- Choose Outside – Sometimes getting outside is as simple as choosing to do so. Choose to walk to places when you can; get up from your desk at work and go for a walk outdoors; shop at outdoor farmer’s markets instead of the store; exercise outside instead of at the gym or in your garage.
Use the change in season to change the way you think about the outdoors – a place to be in and visit, not a place to ignore or walk away from. Plus, there are so many great additional benefits to getting outside, that really, you have nothing to lose!
More than just soaking up the sunshine and getting a dose of those feel-good hormones though, being outside surrounded by plants lets you get an appreciation for the large diversity of plants found growing in abundance in our own backyard. Better yet, did you know that a lot of these plants are edible and have impressive health benefits? In fact, many of them could be considered nature’s superfoods given their nutrient profile. And this is a big reason behind why they are included in some of the teas we offer as part of the Health Tea Box:
- Hibiscus – While beautiful in nature, hibiscus is that much better in the body: it helps reduce blood pressure. Whether you suffer from hypertension or stress, the hypotensive properties of hibiscus are the perfect solution. Combined with its antioxidant benefits, it’s a clear winner and found in several of our teas.
- Rose Petals – Not only are roses beautiful to look at in nature but the petals adds a refined sweetness to desserts and tea, while also providing anti-inflammatory benefits. The red blood-like colour of roses is also symbolic of their ability to act as a blood tonic.
- Lemon Balm – An Australian native plant, lemon balm adds a subtle lemon flavour to teas and you can use it in your cooking in the same way. In addition, it is rich in antioxidants and can act as a sedative, aiding in sleep and de-stressing.
- Fennel – A pleasant smell and a delicious flavour, this liquorice like plant has anti-inflammatory effects and is a great digestive aid. Drink the digestive tea after a meal or when you are feeling bloated, nauseas or suffering from unwanted gut distress.
- Peppermint – Peppermint tea is soothing and comforting, and this is not an accident. Peppermint is great for helping elicit calmness and reduce tension, as well as is a beneficial digestive aid, helping in both chronic and acute gut symptoms.
There are lots of benefits from getting outside, but the only way to reap them is to try it yourself. What are you waiting for? Get outdoors!