Healthy LifestylesMental HealthGoing outside every day can do amazing things for your mental health!

When you’re reading advice online about how you can boost your mental health and wellbeing, one of the tips you’ll see constantly is to spend more time outdoors. Most people tend to lump this pointer in with meditation and getting better sleep; sure, it would be nice, but who has the time, and besides, how much of an impact can a little time outside actually have on your mental health, especially if you’re dealing with a serious clinical problem like depression?


It turns out, more than you think! Committing to spending time outside every day actually can make a noticeable difference in your mental state. Time outdoors has been proven through many studies to increase your brain’s production of the chemicals and hormones that make you feel good and help to combat common mental health issues. Sunshine, fresh air, and nature may not be enough to cure a problem you’re having, but they can certainly help! Here are some of the specific ways that time spent outside helps to improve your mental health.


Many people tend to combine their time spent outdoors for the day with some physical activity– walking, playing a sport, doing yard work or gardening. These two activities combined create a motherlode of benefits for your mental health, triggering your brain to produce the happy chemicals and reward chemicals that are responsible for good moods and phenomena like “runner’s high.” Getting regular exercise is good, and getting outside is good, but getting regular outdoor exercise is great for your mental wellbeing!


While the research on this topic is still in its early stages, it’s fairly well-known at this point that exposure to sunlight and mood have a strong correlation. Scientists aren’t completely sure how light works to affect mental state, but many people struggle with their moods when they lack adequate time in the sun, and adding light therapy to a treatment regimen has been known to help people combat seasonal depression during the winter where daylight hours are short. Spending time outside means that you’re soaking up the maximum amount of sunlight that you can on any given day, helping not only to improve your mood, but also to help your energy levels and sleep cycle, which also are good for your mental health!

Increased Calmness

Stress in the mind and body activates the sympathetic nervous system. You’re surely familiar with this feeling– high heart rate, increased blood pressure, muscle tension, and all the physical signs of stress or anxiety. Evidence suggests, however, that time spent outdoors actually counteracts these symptoms, helping to regulate the sympathetic nervous system and reducing the physical effects of stress on the body. This can help you to feel more even-keeled and calm throughout the day, ready to tackle the things that make you stressed and remove them from the playing field!

Improved Cognitive Function

Last but certainly not least, time spent outdoors has actually been known to improve your cognitive function– how your brain works and how sharp and alert your mind feels. Studies have shown that spending time in nature helps to improve memory, focus, and stress tolerance, all important things for helping you to feel confident, relaxed, and not too overwhelmed by your day and the tasks in front of you. When you’re feeling like you could use a boost, stepping outside for a moment might be just the thing to help you!


Even though it seems like a simple habit that couldn’t possibly have powerful effects on your mental health, spending time outside as often as you’re able can be incredibly helpful in improving your mood and mental health! If you’re interested in learning more about other ways to help your mental wellbeing, make sure you continue reading our blog here at the TMS Center of the Lehigh Valley.