Step Outside Into a World of Self-Care

© Mat Hayward –

Welcome back to our 12-part self-care series, designed to help put you back on the list.

In last week’s post about water, we talked about finding ways to be around natural bodies of water. Today we’ll expand to other elements of nature.

Being outdoors holds many wonders for your mind, body, and soul. There are soothing greens and other vibrant colors; the smells, sights and sounds of forest; or the majesty of a mountain range (here in Florida we call the clouds our Florida mountains).

When you take the time to be truly present and aware of your surroundings, these moments in nature can be awe-inspiring. Being in nature may lead you to spiritual thoughts – a wonder and appreciation for how these remarkable creations came to be. It may shift your perspective as you compare your day-to-day challenges to nature’s force.

Sunshine and fresh air can have both a calming and invigorating effect, helping create a sense of balance and well-being. Even on a cloudy day, you can still benefit from being outdoors and stepping out of your regimen of tasks and activities.

Here are five ways to spend more time outdoors in nature:

  1. Walk a dog – To be happy and healthy, dogs need exercise, discipline, structure, and socialization. Walks accomplish all of these things, and Psychology Today explains how these outdoor excursions benefit you as well. If you don’t have your own dog, offer to help a friend or neighbour, or volunteer at a local shelter or rescue organization.
  2. Park around the block – When driving to an errand, park your car far enough away to get a good walk and a few minutes of decompression time either before or after your task – whenever you’ll need it most.
  3. Walk and talk – Book your next meeting with a friend, co-worker, or client as a walking meeting. Use your phone to store audio notes for anything you need to remember or follow up on later.
  4. Rise and shine – Set your alarm 15-30 minutes earlier and use that time to get outdoors, preferably in the sunlight. As a bonus, this will improve your sleep by regulating melatonin, the sleep hormone, according to sleep doctor Michael Breus.
  5. Explore – Research your area’s walking trails, parks, beaches, and other vistas, and ask friends and colleagues for their favorite outdoor spots. Challenge yourself to visit one new place a month and then keep a list of places you’d like to revisit.

Once you make a conscious effort to spend more time in nature, you may enjoy it so much you’ll be adding new ideas to this list.