How Going Out For Short Walks Help Reduce Anxiety And Depression?

Sometimes the best way to ensure wellness for people is getting outside.
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Mental health is becoming a more openly discussed subject in today's society. Originally, people who were dealing with depression or anxiety went to individual counseling. Recently we have seen a trend towards group counseling which I believe is good as it connects those who are struggling with mental health disorders, to others struggling with similar mental disorders.

However, while many health specialists are directing individuals to seek help in either individual or group counseling, we don’t hear much discussion about how going outside and getting fresh air can make a huge difference. In today’s society when dealing with COVID, people around the world are being told to stay inside to prevent the spread of the virus. This has been directly causing mental health to deteriorate in so many people.

Depression and anxiety are increasing as people fear the virus or financial insecurity. But also many individuals are becoming so depressed due to the isolation of having to stay indoors.

Walking outside in nature can help reduce anxiety

Going outside for just a short walk every day and breathing in the fresh air can help reduce depression and anxiety. Walking outside in nature can help reduce this further as you take in the external beauty. You realize how small the problems you’re facing truly are as you take in the grandiosity of the nature of this world.

Even small outdoor ventures, like getting outside for a lunch break and taking a stroll can be beneficial. Add walking with a friend, both of you masked, can be the best therapy we can find. You get the physical health benefit of getting exercise in the fresh air and you get the mental health perks of the social interaction while maintaining safety precautions. If people could find a walking buddy, they could commit to getting outside consistently and improving their mental health at no financial cost at all.

Walking with friends or in groups is also a good kind of therapy. When you are outside your serotonin is high from the outdoor exercise and then the conversation tends to be positive even if it’s about difficult subjects due to the increased serotonin. It’s hard to be negative when you’re on a beautiful walk with good friends. So it’s a social activity but becomes positive therapy.

Sometimes you don’t even need to go with other people, furry friends are also good companions. Dogs can heighten serotonin levels and walk with them can also boost your mood. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself to get outside and go for a walk, so having a dog can help ensure you get outside. Having a dog with you can also increase your exercise if you throw a ball for them or make you walk faster. 

When children are very little, parents take them to parks and on walks constantly, getting them in the fresh air with physical activity. Kids used to run around and play in their neighborhood all day long with friends and in those days, the stress level of elementary and secondary school children was very low. The kids were getting large doses of serotonin, vitamin D, and social interaction that was all positive. In those days, by the time they hit high school, they found their niche of sports or activities that helped them get fresh air and exercise.

Going Out can Reduce the Impact of digitization on the mental health of kids

However, in today’s society, and for at least 10 years, kids are staying inside and isolating, similar to the Covid situation. Kids are on their phones searching social media posts or playing video games. The increase in stress and depression levels in young kids, tweens, and teens has skyrocketed due to this self-isolation.

Kids don’t know how to change it, but I truly believe if they got back outdoors to play with kids in their neighborhood, they could find an increased positivity in their outlooks on life. I know how bad the mental state can get as one of my closest friends’ sisters took her own life days after turning 13 years old. She felt trapped in her life and needed counseling that wasn’t available.

But I believe that if she had that neighborhood community of kids getting outdoors and playing with each other, instead of posing mean taunts on social media, she’d still be alive. 

I urge this country to reassess the mental health situation we are facing. We need to bring awareness to this deadly situation as Covid and isolation has increased suicides across the country, especially in my home county. But a simple start would be to ask everybody, to take a small step first.

Getting outside and walking, running, hiking, bike every day will put you in a more positive mood, fill you with gratitude, and improved mental skills such as creativity and improved memory to enable you to be more efficient at your job or schooling when you return indoors to complete your daily assignments.

Get out, wear a mask, and revisit this beautiful earth we inhabit. It will be the best therapy for you!

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