No matter who we are we will all have moments of stress. Whether it’s due to our jobs or personal life, stress and anxiety can consume us. Here are 5 outdoor activities that can relieve stress and help anxiety.
We’re humans and a lot of us can become easily stressed about the small trivial things in life as well as the big things. A good thing to remember when you are stressed is that stress is simply the body’s fight or flight instinct.
This is a vital part of us, we need this important survival tactic to help us react in potentially life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, because we’ve evolved so much as a species this instinct can be triggered over things that are not actually life-or-death situations. This can leave us feeling stressed, scared, anxious and totally overwhelmed/exhausted.
One of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety is to spend time outdoors. Whether you consider yourself ‘outdoorsy’ or not there will be an activity for you. Whichever activity you try, be sure to focus on your experience. Be in the present moment and let the stress of the day fade away.
Exercise will elevate your mood as it releases endorphins these bring on feelings of joy.
Walking or running
One way to really boost your mood and lower your feelings of stress is to take your regular exercise routine outside.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not super fit and athletic and you don’t have an exercise routine, just start with a walk. Go to a place you’ll love to explore, such as a local coastline or any green space such as a park.
Following a woodland trail is a good place to start. Have a look at the Forestry Commission England website to look for woodland to explore near you. If you’re physically already quite active, run or jog through a local park. You could try it by yourself, or look for local classes.
Biking is a great exercise which is low-impact and gets you outside. It can also be a great way to improve your physical health while doing cardio. Biking can also be an interesting way to explore your location from a new perspective. You’ll feel totally free.
Yoga has become increasingly popular and has so many benefits. It is an exercise that combines mental and physical discipline which has been shown to greatly reduce stress and anxiety. Don’t worry about your athletic ability because there are so many different styles for everyone from beginners to professionals. Everyone has to start somewhere. Outdoor yoga is very popular especially as the weather becomes warmer when you can comfortably take your yoga mat outside. This is a great way to use the outdoors to naturally reduce your stress levels.
Meditating is a practice that research suggests reduces stress and improves your mental clarity. You only need to try meditating for five minutes a day to lower your stress levels and feel less anxious.
Meditation can actually be really difficult, especially if you live in a busy household or somewhere with a lot of background noise. One way to help this is to take your meditation outside, that way you can enjoy the relaxing sounds of nature as you focus on your breathing and allow your worries to drift away.
Meditation can teach you useful breathing techniques that can be used whenever you are feeling particularly stressed out. If you get anxiety as well, these breathing techniques can come in really handy as it gives you a way to slow down your breathing.
3. Star gaze
We often forget to look up. When was the last time you really looked up and truly gazed at the sky? There are some great apps available or books to help you recognise different stars.
Make sure you give your eyes time to adjust, as it can take about 20 minutes before you can fully see stars in the dark. For me, this activity works really well as it makes my worries/problems feel really small. I immediately feel calmer and less stressed.
4. Dog walking
Spending time with animals is a great way to feel calmer and reduce stress. Studies show that pet owners boast reduced stress, higher levels of oxytocin and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Dog walking is a brilliant way to get outside and get moving. If you don’t have your own dog, lots of shelters look for volunteer dog walkers to help their animals exercise and socialize while they’re waiting for their forever homes. Ask a shelter local to you!
5. Watch the sunrise or set
Start your day with an early rise and take in the sight of the sun climbing up over the horizon. You’ll feel so much calmer for the rest of the day. This can be a really exciting adventure for children too. A healthy dose of Vitamin D will relax the blood vessels and enhance your circulation.
Not an early bird? Then catch the sun as it sets. Savour the moment. While watching the sunset, take your relaxation a step further by lighting a safe campfire. Let go of the things that worry you for a short time and relax. This helps us face those small anxieties and problems we have and makes them feel really small.
We hope you have enjoyed this article. We must point out that we are not professionals! These activities really help us as well as the people we know and work with, however, if none of these work for you that’s okay too. There will be something out there that is a fit for you.
It’s important to remember you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organisation, over 250 million people are thought to live with anxiety-related conditions and help is available. If you’re struggling there are so many places you can contact for help.
Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm)
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably. A charity providing a mental health helpline and webchat.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)