by Dr. Lauren Hedde
As the fall approaches, we all find ourselves spending less time at the beach and more time indoors. Whether you’re lucky enough to enjoy a work and school-free summer or have just finished up a fun summer vacation, chances are you are headed toward a more structured schedule.
With more structure, more work, and more school – comes more stress. So as we approach the change of seasons, it is important to focus on keeping our mood elevated.
A recent study in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning measured stress hormone levels (cortisol) in adults and compared that to the number of outdoor parks and woodlands there were near their homes. They found that people who lived near the most local nature areas had the lowest levels of cortisol self-reported their stress.
Being outside this fall seasons brings lots of benefits that reduce stress – exercise, interaction with friends and family, time with pets, and natural mood-boosting endorphin spikes. Researchers found that with just five minutes of outdoor time, especially when coupled with light exercise – like walking – people felt happier!
Finding it hard to make it outside this fall? Try these tricks:
- Move your normal routine outdoors: sit on the porch and work on your emails.
- Switch your workout to an outdoor setting: yoga, jogging in the woods, and trail hikes are great outdoor activities.
- Take your dog or child for a walk: they will be happier and calmer, which means your life will be less stressful too!
- Try an outdoor walk and talk: skip the coffee shop for a short jaunt outside with your friend or co-worker.
- Trade your latte for fresh air: that crisp fall air can give you as much of a natural energy boost as coffee – which can have its own stress-inducing qualities.
As an added benefit, being outside increases the body’s Vitamin D levels. It takes just 10-15 minutes of sunscreen-free outdoor sun-time to give your body this much-needed natural boost. After that, lather on your sunscreen. Low vitamin D has been linked to difficult-to-treat depression. And we get most of our vitamin D from the sun – so make this a daily habit!
This fall, as the shorter days and longer work hours push you indoors – fight back by making it a point to get outside. Most of us spend 90% of our time indoors and less than 10% in the great outdoors. So, indulge yourself and boost your mood this fall by enjoying all that Rhode Island’s natural parks and woodlands have to offer you!
Direct Doctors is an innovative primary care practice emphasizing an improved doctor-patient relationship. Drs. Hedde and Turshen offer 24/7 access, no waiting, same day visits, home visits, and a doctor who knows you well! For more information visit www.directdoctors.org.