There are better options to ease your mind. Some of the best activities to fight anxiety tap into Mother Nature!
The Sunday Scaries hit, and all you want to do is collapse on the couch with your favorite vat of ice cream and binge Netflix. It’s perfectly natural to enjoy rest and relaxation when our brains have been stressing us TF out. But these coping activities to fight anxiety aren’t exactly “natural.”
So, what’s an anxious mess supposed to do? GTFO! And when we say, “out,” we mean OUTSIDE. Here are a few great reasons to do it:
Captain Planet and his Planeteers may have been on to something
The combination of earth, air, fire, and water can really do a number on us—in a good way.
And this ancient elemental theory isn’t some hippy-dippy BS either. In “Harnessing the Four Elements for Mental Health,” a paper published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, the researchers laid out some practical benefits:
- Evidence suggests we can get a boost to our immune system from the earth by “forest bathing.” What on earth is that? Well, it’s really just immersing yourself in the woods and letting go for a little while. On top of the immunity boost, forests do a lot to help relieve stress. Sign us up for the next nature walk!
- The power of the air enables us to get a better handle on our breath. In yoga, this is called pranayama. It’s a way of focusing on your breath to breathe more naturally and efficiently while being present in the moment. Another great benefit of doing it in nature? Cleaner air, bro.
- The researchers cited heat therapy and exposure to the sun when it comes to the benefits of the “fire” element. As it turns out, natural lighting is good for a more than a banging Instagram photo op. The sun elevates our mood and provides vitamin D, which is more of a “master hormone” than a “vitamin.” It influences everything from cell proliferation to immunity to fighting inflammation. And while you can get some of those effects in a pill, nothing beats the great outdoors.
- We all know that water is essential to life. But this isn’t just about getting your eight glasses a day. We’re talking hydrotherapy: the rejuvenation we feel when we swim, how our spirits are refreshed by being near the water, and how muscles relax when we take a nice, warm soak.
There’s a power that nature holds over us. Previously, it was thought that good ol’ fresh air did the trick, but there may be more to it than that. Air is only part of the equation. Incorporating all the elements into your outdoor activities to fight anxiety can up the relaxation A-game.
Improved concentration, healing, and exercise from outdoor activities that fight anxiety
Exercise sorta happens naturally when you’re in nature. How so?
Well, without forcing yourself to spend another five minutes on the treadmill at the gym, you’ll end up walking and climbing more than ever without even realizing it. And if you’re planning a day at the beach for a mental health break, swimming is a pretty standard side effect.
Research shows us that exercise makes us happier when it’s green. This is because we get all of the natural world's physiological benefits, along with the essential rewards of exercising.
Concentration gets a boost because nature is slower, calmer, and much more relaxed than the rat races and concrete jungles most of us are immersed in. Evidence suggests that even people who struggle with ADHD have less difficulty focusing after spending time in nature.
The icing on the cake? Getting some outdoor time may even mean fewer pain meds! Patients regularly exposed to natural light often take less pain medication and heal faster than those who are devoid of light during their recovery. How cool is that?
The amazing benefits of getting off your ass and getting outside
By all means, you can go with that quick fix of Netflix and snacks. We all need to chill on the couch sometimes, which may benefit you in the short term. But, if you’re looking for consistent improvement that lasts, then make some time to regularly get off your booty and improve your moody with nature!
If you can’t easily get outside—say you’re stuck at work—then breaking free to take to the trees may not be feasible. If that’s the case, then at least stay active. You can try these quick 10-minute workouts that anyone can do basically anywhere.
And you know what’s better than stress eating from the vending machine? Popping some delicious CBD candy!
It can get you unstuck from dark thoughts and put you on the path to killing your workday. (I mean, not like killing it in a screaming psychopath way. More of a "heck yeah, look at me achieve all my goals!" kinda vibe.)
Nevertheless, take some time to get outside when you can do it. Run some trails or take a hike, one of the proven activities to fight anxiety. And, oh, BTW—you can bring some Unicorn Jerky or CBD gummies along for that nature walk, too!