Summer is winding down, which means we have a seasonal change approaching. This makes me think about and appreciate the great outdoors and all that it has to offer. If you’re looking for some inspiration and reasons to be grateful, maybe going outside to enjoy nature will do the trick.
We recently had a block party on my street, and I was watching the many kids ride their bikes or scooters up and down the street, play games with their friends, or just hang out enjoying the warm weather. They were all having a great time.
Outdoor activities like this seem to be the exception rather than the rule these days. I remember as a youngster spending hours outside during the spring and summer months. Even in the fall and winter for that matter, unless the weather was really bad.
During the summers, when school seemed like a distant memory to us kids, my friends and I were outside constantly. We played all kinds of games, some of which we invented. As evening approached, we would often hang around by the streetlights, waiting for the ice cream man and chatting the time away until we knew it was time to go inside.
Back then, there weren’t as many indoor entertainment options as there are today. There were no videogames, smartphones, social media sites. There was no Internet, or anything remotely resembling it. On rainy days, we played board games or ping pong.
As they say, times have changed. Not surprisingly, the day after the block party it was quiet on the block. No bikes, no games, no sounds of laughter. I know, a block party is a special circumstance where people have the freedom to walk up and down street with concern about cars.
But the quiet of that day seemed typical of most days. It reminded me that many of us just don’t go outside that much. At least it seems that way. Unless we’re on vacation, at a ballgame or at some special occasion, we probably spend a lot of time indoors.
The pandemic certainly led to a rise in outdoor activities. I remember seeing many more people walking around the neighborhood during the lockdowns. But then over time it dropped off.
There are so many outdoor options: parks, trails, beaches, mountains, hills, valleys, campgrounds, lakesides, preserves. One of our favorite places to visit locally is the Bayard Cutting Arboretum, which has beautiful water views, gardens, wildlife and all kinds of trees. The photo for this post is from one of the gardens.
Enjoying the outdoors doesn’t have to involve traveling to exotic places. Your own backyard or local park can provide a place for relaxation and recharging.
My ability to travel is limited for the time being because of health issues. But I’ve spent lots of time taking breaks in the backyard this summer.
Oftentimes I go outside at night to watch sunsets or look up at the stars. This provides a different perspective of the world that helps offset any worries or anxieties that might be plaguing me. I never get tired of seeing the International Space Station traverse the sky on a clear night.
Many studies show that being outside can do wonders for our outlook and attitude. There are several health benefits from spending time outside. These include reducing anxiety, connecting with other people, improving sleep, enhancing focus, strengthening immune function, boosting creativity and improving overall emotional well-being.
A new study by Translational Psychiatry found that people who spent an average of 1.5 hours per day exposed to outside light had the lowest risk of depression, regardless of their genetic predisposition for depression.
Check out this YouTube video for some great information on the benefits of nature:
Most of our world exists outside our homes and offices, and it’s filled with natural beauty. We need to spend more time enjoying this gift. So, if you’re looking for inspiration, be sure to spend some time outside.
“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson