The Many Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors
What does the phrase “Life is Short – Go Outside” mean to you? I think the answer depends on what stage of life you are currently in or, perhaps what stage you are headed towards.
What Parents Say – Go Outside and Play
As a child, I remember my mother yelling out loud “you need to go outside.” As a parent, I have made the same statement to my own children. So, why do parents tell their children to go outside? There are many reasons.
First and foremost, a child may be driving their parents crazy with whining or fighting with siblings. The parent needs a few minutes of peace and quiet. That certainly has been the case in my own life. But there are other more important reasons to encourage a child (or an adult) to go outside. These involve the physical, mental, and emotional health of the child or individual.
Go Outside - Taking Steps to Improve Your Mental Health
We are all looking for ways to combat stress in our lives whether we are an adult or a child. Your body has many ways to tell you that you are burned out. Addressing mental stress in your life is very important so you do not feel overwhelmed by the demands of our 24/7 world.
Studies indicate that “ecotherapy” or the practice of participating in outdoor activities has a wide range of mental health benefits. This could be strenuous such as hiking or rock climbing. Or, you could simply walk around your neighborhood and admire the flowers and trees. What is important is that you “Go Outside” and enjoy the mental health benefits of being outside.
Go Outside – How to Improve Your Physical Health
Going outside to engage in physical activities will help us to stay healthy. Outdoor activities can improve our cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. We can strengthen our bones and muscles while participating in outdoor activities.
Activities such as hiking or playing sports can help burn calories which can reduce the risk of obesity. We are also exposed to fresh air and sunlight which are beneficial to our body’s physical health. If you “Go Outside” you can improve your physical health in many ways.
Go Outside – Strengthening Your Emotional Health
What is emotional health? It is a person’s overall well-being in terms of their emotions and their ability to manage and express them. It involves being able to cope with and manage your emotions in a healthy way versus being out of control. We all deal with anger and feelings of sadness or isolation.
That is part of life. But learning how to handle these various emotions is important if we are going to lead well-balanced lives. Spending time outside and in outdoor settings can contribute to your overall satisfaction and happiness in life. If you “Go Outside” you will feel more connected to the world. It will help to ground and recenter you.
Life is Short – What Does That Really Mean?
The older I get, the more I understand the importance and reality of that phase. I am turning 70 next year and realize the sands of the hourglass are greater on the bottom than on the top. That is sobering to me. I am more likely to think about this next decade of my life in a different manner than in past decades. I still have my health and am in relatively good shape but I sense my body is slowing down.
“Life is Short” tells me that life is truly fleeting and I need to make the most of the time I have left. For me, as I get ready to begin a new year, it means I need to make a greater effort to prioritize my goals. I need to be intentional with the time I have left and be willing to take some risks or try something new.
Or, maybe I need to focus on current activities that I really enjoy. Basically, “life is short” encourages me to make a greater effort to live in the moment while enjoying my day-to-day life.
Photography – and the “Life is Short – Go Outside” Lifestyle
Which brings me full circle – what is the greatest joy about being a landscape and wildlife photographer? It is this: I get to spend much of my time outdoors. I experience nature and wildlife up close and personal. I feel most alive while being outdoors—even in freezing weather or hot humid evenings.
There has always been and still remains something special about being outdoors—seeing sunrises or snow-capped mountains or rivers and waterfalls. I experience the beauty of nature as well as an experience a sense of freedom and quiet joy. Life may be short…. but I will continue to take my camera and go outside. I hope you will do the same this year.