Why being outdoors is good for your mental health

October 14, 2022
5 min read

Let’s talk about mental health

Let’s face it, the past few years have been a bit uncertain at times. As life as we know it ground completely to a halt during the pandemic, it’s understandable that many people found themselves facing mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression that they may never have encountered before. To cope with such issues, and the unprecedented circumstances at hand, we saw an increase in people spending more time in nature. Whether that was through a walk, a run or a wild swim, many people found themselves turning to the natural environment around them for comfort in times of such uncertainty. 

Whilst day-to-day life seems to be heading pretty much back to normal, I think we can all agree that spending time in nature is only a good thing - and is something we should all take the time to enjoy on a regular basis to maintain our wellbeing. Having poor mental health can impact our relationships, damage our self-esteem and lead to issues at work or school, so, no matter how busy we may be, nurturing our minds is absolutely essential to leading a happy and healthy lifestyle. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look into some of the reasons why spending time outdoors is so good for our mental health…

Soothing tendencies

It’s hard not to feel calm when fully immersed in nature. Here at Divers Cove, we feel incredibly fortunate to get to experience the benefits of each season as our wild swimming lake is surrounded by stunning flowers and trees. 

However, aside from being nice to look at, nature also has soothing tendencies that can make us feel calmer. Spending time outdoors can actually assist with mindfulness, a practice that focuses on living in the present moment and being aware of our surroundings, and can help reduce stress and increase creativity. 

 Next time you’re relaxing or exercising outdoors, take the time to clear your mind and avoid distractions such as technology which can result in stress.

Something else to consider when you’re next enjoying the great outdoors is taking deep breaths to enjoy the lovely fresh air and lower stress levels through oxygen intake and relaxed breathing techniques. Whether you’re sitting in your garden or taking a dip in the cooling waters of our lake, taking deep breaths is a great way to help clear your mind and soothe any anxiety you may be struggling with. 

Through refreshingly cool temperatures, the waters of our open water swimming lake encourage mindfulness amongst swimmers as they are brought back to the present moment through focusing on the refreshing feeling of the water and the necessary breathing techniques. Wild swimming in our beautiful Godstone reservoir means that you can enjoy a dip surrounded by trees whilst feeling the sand between your toes - the perfect place to feel the benefits of mindfulness.

The healing power of nature

If you’re struggling with low moods or increased feelings of anger and irritability, you might find yourself feeling a bit hopeless. As previously mentioned, spending time in nature can help us to calm down and can be an excellent grounding technique. 

It’s also important to note that spending time outdoors has actually been found to help with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. This is because the environments we spend time in all have an impact on our mental health, whether that may be positive or negative. A pleasant, quiet natural environment can help to boost our mood and encourage positive thoughts through being surrounded by different, calming colours and various wildlife. 

For those suffering with low self-esteem, it’s been suggested that spending time in nature can help to boost confidence, which could be due increased physical activity, or the opportunity to meet new people in the community. Both of these are great ways to improve self-worth and encourage a positive mindset and healthy lifestyle choices. 

Keeping active in nature

Exercising, in any way, shape or form is a scientifically proven mood booster. Getting your blood pumping and increasing your heart rate can not only improve physical fitness, but also improve your mental wellness through reduced feelings of stress, depression and anxiety through increased levels of endorphins. Endorphins can make us feel happier, more positive and also help to reduce pain. 

However, when you combine physical activity and spending time outdoors, that’s when you can really feel the mental health benefits of your exercise. Aside from being more accessible and cheaper than the typical gym membership, opting for an outdoor workout can also be very beneficial to your mental health due to the exposure to fresh air and natural sunlight - both of which are particularly important if you find yourself spending a bit too much time indoors. 

Something else that makes exercising in nature enjoyable is being surrounded by different sights and sounds, whatever the season. At Divers Cove, our wild swimming truly feels wild - whether it’s the crunch of Autumn leaves underfoot, or the sound of Spring ducklings enjoying a splash, it’s always great to see our members enjoying the beauty of Surrey. 

Perhaps you may be starting triathlon training, or you’re a regular swimmer who fancies a switch up from your local indoor pool - whatever your reason, our swimming lake is a fantastic place to enjoy some low-impact exercise whilst enjoying taking in the sights of nature. 

There are a number of benefits to exercising outside, so, next time you’re planning a work-out, why not opt for a walk outside or a wild swim instead of your usual trip to the gym?

Connectedness

To put it simply - humans are meant to spend time in nature. Despite distractions such as work, school and technology pushing us to spend the majority of our time indoors, we are as much a part of the natural world as any other creature. Spending more time outdoors will increase your feelings of connectedness with nature, meaning that you’ll enjoy even further mental health benefits as you take the time to really notice how your surroundings look and feel. 

As it is the practice of immersing yourself in cooling waters surrounded by flora and fauna, wild swimming is a fantastic way to feel more connected to nature.

Reduced Loneliness

As well as helping you to feel more in touch with nature, another form of connection that spending time outdoors boasts is social connections with other like minded people. Regular social interactions with friends, family and even strangers are an incredibly important part of maintaining our mental health and wellbeing. Loneliness can feel very isolating, and has been linked to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. 

Taking the time to have a good natter can help us share ideas, feelings and have a good laugh - all of which can have a positive impact on our mood. When you encounter people on your daily run or meet up with friends for a nice walk, you’re actually giving yourself a mental health boost through social interaction. We’re very fortunate to have a wonderful group of members here at Divers Cove - it’s not uncommon to see our swimmers catching up on the sandy shores of our lake, or enjoying a warming post-swim hot drink together.

 Wild swimming encourages a real sense of community amongst those who take part - so if you’re thinking about giving it a go, why not sign up for one of our memberships?

Our natural environment here at Divers Cove

We’re all about enjoying the great outdoors. Whether it’s seeing those first leaves appear on the trees during Springtime, or the glorious blue skies of clear Autumn days, we feel incredibly lucky to have such a beautiful natural environment here at Divers Cove. 

Though we’ve attempted to summarise some of the best perks of spending time outdoors, we think that the best thing to do is simply head out into nature and see for yourself! Whether you choose to grab your running shoes, lace up your walking boots or don your wetsuit and join us for a swim here at Divers Cove, we hope that you enjoy spending some time in nature - you never know what you might see…

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