I Accidentally Reduced Anxiety By Spending Time Outdoors
I took a weekend camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. Rugged mountains, boulders, oddball trees, and desert surrounded me. No nearby establishments, no permanent structures, spotty phone reception, no internet, no wi-fi, no technology connecting me to the network of social media.
I thought I’d be anxious to be away from everything, but the opposite happened – I felt at peace and grateful for the opportunity to step back from the hustle of life.
There’s something to be said about spending time in nature. Being in nature puts things into perspective and reminds you of how small you are in the grand scheme of the universe, yet at the same time it makes you feel large because you’re so lucky that you happen to be alive in this particular moment.
With a feeling of thankfulness I explored the wilderness, climbed boulders, curiously followed trails, built a campfire, and stared into the fire for the majority of the night.
When the weekend was done, I realized that throughout the entire trip I didn’t have any anxiety AT ALL. All my habitual worried thoughts about life disappeared once I stepped into the great outdoors. All my internal anxiety melted away once my energy was focused outward on being physically active by exploring and hiking.
This trip was an epiphany for me. My average week consists of working indoors, and then coming home and being in my house the rest of the day. Yet, just by spending some time outdoors, I didn’t even stress out or feel anxious.
There’s a study that was conducted by Irina Wen, Ph.D at NYU Langone Medical Center that proves that “Nature is beneficial for mental health. It reduces cognitive fatigue and stress and can be helpful with depression and anxiety.”
Since then, I’ve made it a priority to spend more time outdoors and moving around in my day-t0-day life. Whether it be by taking a walk, doing a workout, or intermediately exercising while watching TV. I’ve noticed a reduction in anxious thoughts when I’m active and I plan to keep on being active to help control my thoughts.
If you have any tips on how you reduce anxiety, let me know.
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Tags: joshua tree • thoughts