When in nature, people may experience a more positive mood and better cognitive function. The effects of the environment on mental health have been long researched and proven time and time again that they help reduce stress and clear your mind, all while chemically boosting the brain's chemicals. Time in nature increases our ability to pay attention. Humans find nature interesting to explore, and we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also provides a calmness for overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.
By staying close to nature, we feel more grateful and appreciative of what it has to offer to us. Seeing the wonders of the world outside automatically fosters healing and stress relief. We want to encourage all our readers to step out and explore, but we wanted to provide you with some resources for doing so! These resources can lead you to your next adventure and help you in your mental health journey!
Contact Your Local Outdoor Recreation Department
Every state has a State and local Parks and Recreation department that is dedicated to connecting individuals to the outdoors! Find your state's or local website or office, and they will provide you with fun ideas and activities that you could add to your adventure wish list. This resource can give you a list of beautiful outdoor treasures that you can find right in your backyard.
This resource is also a fantastic tool to find different trails, activities, or landmarks to explore. All have maps or google geotags that can lead you where you want to go! Bonus, they are almost always free and provide you with information that may be helpful when exploring i.e., what shoes to wear, what wildlife to look out for, or best views! Whether you want to casually stroll a beach with photo-worthy views or hike the to the top of a mountain, they will have you covered.
Another perk of local resources is that they can connect you to groups or volunteer opportunities that allow you to get outside all while making a difference. Giving back has also been researched and supported for boosting mental health! Giving your time to a cause and embarking on an adventure is bound to boost your mental wellbeing! Keep your eye out for different events, holidays, or photo contests that they post on their website or social media platforms that promote being outside!
Join an Outdoor Group
One of the many ways to learn about outdoor opportunities is through community groups that are passionate about being outside! It can range from rock climbing to just a group that walks in parks throughout your city! Either way, we encourage you to step outside of the comfort zone and put yourself out there to join a new friend group that shares similar interests!
Find a hobby you like or what to try! There may be a Facebook group that is dedicated to the hobby and encouraging others to join. There are large based groups that help members be inspired or provide positive and encouraging advice from people all around the world who enjoy the outdoors. Or you can find smaller and more local groups that you can meet up with!
It is ok to feel nervous or vulnerable, but you could surround yourself with amazing influences and friends that are supportive of you! Be yourself! Be aware of your mental health goals! Dive into a new experience and meet others. You will find that the outdoor community is extremely passionate and love to teach others the ways of the wilderness!
Your time with nature could be something as simple as a daily walk in a park or a Saturday afternoon on a local trail. It can be alone to reflect, or you can meet up with others who also want to explore.
Find Outdoor Apps or Books
There is an abundance of free outdoor apps that can show you different spots to explore! Many national parks and outdoor companies have apps with their suggested activities outside that are made for everyone! You can find digital maps that can download and be saved right to your phone. A phone or handheld GPS is easily pocketed and less unwieldy. Mapping software can reliably pinpoint your location and quickly calculate distance and vertical gain or drop—and, for a long trip, it is also more cost-effective.
You can keep a journal of your trips or log the number of steps you take! Not only are you being outside but exercising and setting goals! Both of which help boost mental health. You'll be amazed to see your accomplishments and the distance you can go! You can also track what you thought about or processed or simply what you saw to remind yourself you are working hard for progress.
Another great place to look at is your library or local outdoor shop! Outdoor guidebooks have been around for years and hold a lot of valuable information about the area. They can include old maps, plant and wildlife information, and stories. They are also reliable and do not run the risk of running out of battery! They usually also encompass a defined area, like a national park or wilderness area, where an entire trip or multiple trails you can explore.
With a handheld map or book, you can write or reflect on the area that you are exploring. You can use it for journaling or a craft that will remind you of all the fantastic places you have been. Even if it's just a map of your town, pinpointing areas, you have been, and experience makes you feel a great deal of accomplishment! It can also show you the place you want to go back to or places you have already been and encourage you to find somewhere new! So let's go on an adventure!