Autumn can sometimes feel like a seasonal stop-gap. The excitement of summer is becoming a distant memory, but there’s still some time to go before the festive season kicks into gear. As the evenings get darker and chillier, you’re more likely to choose a night in with the latest boxset than the fun-filled socialising of previous months. You may even find your mood affected by the changing seasons.
For many, the dropping temperatures and slower pace can be accompanied by a drop in energy –the onset of the ‘winter blues’. It’s not uncommon to feel a bit low and lethargic at this time of year.
Whatever your internal response to seasonal change, there’s no doubt that a dose of fresh air can be one of the best ways to boost your energy and your mood. In fact, the natural beauty of the great outdoors during the autumn months is this season’s greatest asset. So why not get out there and enjoy it?
Here are just a few reasons why embracing nature this autumn might be an easy way to invigorate both mind and body.
How the natural environment improves wellbeing
Many say that nature is good for our well-being, recharging energy levels and tuning into our body and mind. We probably all feel a sense of inner calm when we walk through a park or admire the view from the top of a hill. Even for the city-lovers among us, it’s a vast difference from the experience of noisy, smelly rush hour traffic!
It seems that it’s not just exposure to nature that’s important, but connecting to it and appreciating its beauty. Nature connectedness expert Miles Richardson talks about how a connection to nature brings well-being through emotions and beauty:
“To access the wider benefits of nature connectedness, there is a need to feel close to nature and be tuned into its beauty. We evolved to make sense of nature, so let the sights and sounds of nature’s beauty flow in through your eyes and ears.”
Being connected to nature can help restore us when we’re stressed out,as well as boost our energy and mindset even if we’re not feeling run down, by regulating our emotions and promoting positive feelings. Noticing both the peacefulness and vitality of the natural world can help you escape from the distractions of daily life, even if just for a short time, so you can practice feeling truly present and tune in to your body and mind. It’s even more important to tap into these benefits at this time of year, to keep us feeling energised as we head into the colder seasons.
A natural way to improve your immune system
Aside from the benefits to our mental health, spending time in nature can be a phenomenal way to maintain our immune systems. This isn’t just down to the fact that your outdoor excursions probably involve some form of physical activity and therefore help you stay fit –it’s also thought to be linked to improvements to the immune system.
Think of time in nature as adding a multivitamin. Nature provides us with all sorts of energy-boosting ingredients, like fresh air, beautiful scenery and inspiring plant and wildlife. By encouraging us to slow down, spending time in nature puts us into relaxation mode, which could be just what the body needs to rebuild its defenses and prepare for the upcoming winter season.
And of course, we mustn’t forget the ‘sunshine vitamin’. In the spring and summer most of us get the vitamin D we need from action of sunlight on skin and a balanced diet. However in the autumn and winter, we will need to rely on vitamin D from the diet to obtain Vitamin D and consider taking a daily 10 mcg vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D supports the immune system.
Reinvigorate mind and body in the great outdoors
In Japanese culture, the term shinrin yoku refers to ‘forest bathing’, which is the practice of walking in the woods as a means of reducing stress hormones and protecting both mind and body against the negative effects of stress. It’s also a wonderful form of low-impact aerobic exercise.If you’re up for something a little more challenging, why not try hiking a new route or enjoying a long cycle ride at the weekend? Running is another way to lose yourself in nature, while outdoor gyms and yoga classes are becoming popular alternatives.But don’t worry if you don’t have a handy local nature reserve to explore –‘nature’ can encompass everything from urban parks to sandy beaches. Even walking or sitting amongst some trees and flowers can have a positive effect.
Challenge yourself to find new ways to enjoy the outdoors this autumn and you’ll reap the benefits long after you’ve returned to the warmth of that hot chocolate by the fire.