Spending time outdoors benefits the brain and body. How? University of Utah psychologist conjectures that spending time in nature allows our prefrontal cortex to take a break and rest.
Studies have found that when healthy adults take in scenes that are rich in vegetation, they feel better. The areas of the brain associated with feelings like empathy, love, and emotional stability are all more active when immersed in the outdoors.
And so, it comes with the territory that our stress levels are reduced when we take a walk in the trees, go on a hike, jump in a canoe or just take in a beautiful view and throw our urban cares away for the day.
Here are 5 tried-and-true ways to love yourself and get outside this fall:
1) Go Apple Picking
Apples hit their peak in September or October, depending on your area. Many pick-your-own farms have an entrance fee, so be ready to pay a bit more for your hand-picked apples than you do for those at the grocery store but the experience is so much more.
Bring your sunscreen and hat if it’s sunny, and some old shoes or boots to get around on the farm.
2) Hit the Beach, (while you still can)
Summer may be officially over, but a lot of the time the hot weather isn’t aware of the calendar. Getting to the beach in September can be great fun as the crowds of summer have disappeared and the scorching hot sun of July and August is now that much softer on your skin. It’s enough to warm you up but maybe not so strong that it burns you to a crisp.
3) Go for a Walk or a Bike Ride, Every Day
Use Pokemon Go if that helps-fall is the perfect time to challenge yourself to spend at least 20 minutes each day walking or biking to a local destination. It isn’t as hot as it once was and the seasonal change can be a good catalyst for new resolutions.
Where to go? Anywhere: a coffee shop, the gas station, the library, a friend’s place or a convenience store. You choose. Even without a forest or a lake to stroll by, simply being in natural light outside with your blood flowing can be good for the heart and soul.
4) Visit a Farm and Pick Your Own Pumpkin
In addition to getting your own apples, picking out your own festive pumpkin can make for an invigorating day outside. Family farms often have pumpkin picking-something the whole family can enjoy.
5) Go on a Hike
Getting on a walking path in the woods is a fantastic way to get away from it all.
Need a goal? Challenge yourself to find these five things:
A bird you’ve never seen before, three plants you can’t name, a stick longer than your arm, a perfectly flat rock and a wildflower.
Getting outside and seeing the four seasons can be a useful way to enjoy each on its own for the unique opportunities it brings. And doing some of the same activities each year can also be a simple way to set up some traditions that can last for years to come.
Have fun giving your brain and body the break they deserve!