Today’s Solutions: April 17, 2024

We at The Optimist Daily are big proponents of the healing nature of the outdoors. While exploring local natural spaces may not be as feasible now as it once was, you should still try to get outside every day. A new study has found that just 20 minutes outdoors can lower your stress levels.

The study from the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability correlates the stress-reducing capabilities of time outdoors with its numerous other health benefits including better sleep, reduced inflammation, improved immune function, and heightened vitamin D production. 

You don’t have to go climb a mountain to reap the benefits of what researcher MaryCarol Hunter calls a “nature pill.” Things as simple as gardening, going for a short walk, or even just sitting in your backyard can be beneficial for your health. Even looking out a window has been seen to reduce stress levels. 

Subjects in the study were instructed to spend 10 minutes a day, three times a week, engaging with nature. They could do this in any way they chose, but no electronics allowed. Spit samples were then used to analyze the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The researchers found that a nature experience resulted in a 21.3% per hour drop in cortisol levels. 

Given the current circumstances, it’s normal to feel your stress levels are a bit heightened right now. Last week we discussed strategies for using stress hormones to your advantage. Time outdoors is another great proven strategy for managing stress levels and boosting overall health. 

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