SpendingTime OutdoorsCrucial for Mental Health, Survey Finds

A recent survey of 2,000 US adults found that spending at least 67 minutes outside daily is necessary to feel refreshed, with 57% craving outdoor time more than ever. The survey highlights the importance of outdoor activities for physical and mental wellbeing, especially during Mental Health Week 2024.

Nitish Verma
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SpendingTime OutdoorsCrucial for Mental Health, Survey Finds

SpendingTime OutdoorsCrucial for Mental Health, Survey Finds

A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults has revealed that spending at least 67 minutes outside daily is necessary to feel refreshed, with 57% of Americans craving outdoor time more than ever before. The survey, conducted by Talker Research on behalf of RVshare, highlights the importance of spending time outdoors for both physical and mental wellbeing.

Why this matters: The findings of this survey have significant implications for public health, as they underscore the importance of incorporating outdoor activities into daily life to mitigate the growingmental health crisis. By prioritizing outdoor time, individuals can take a proactive approach to maintaining their mental wellbeing, which can have far-reaching benefits for communities and society as a whole.

The findings come at a crucial time, as Mental Health Week 2024 (May 13-19) approaches, emphasizing the vital relationship between movement, nature, and mental health. Exercise has long been established as a potent tool for alleviating stress, anxiety, and depression by releasing endorphins, reducing stress hormones, and stimulating neurotransmitters like serotonin. Moreover, movement encourages mindfulness, an essential aspect of mental health, by focusing on bodily sensations and the present moment.

The survey revealed that outdoor time relaxes 68% of respondents, puts 66% in a better mood, and helps 64% clear their head. On the other hand, spending too much time indoors can lead to feelings of depression (38%), anxiousness (33%), and loneliness (32%). Respondents shared their favorite outdoor activities, including grilling or cooking outside (23%), hiking (14%), and camping (11%).

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shift in travel preferences, with Americans opting for trips to places in nature (16%) and trips that benefit their mental health (15%). The survey found that 67% of Americans view travel as a method of self-care, with 42% needing to book a trip to escape at least once every six months. The most popular outdoor travel destinations include beach trips (44%), national park visits (29%), and cross-country driving (12%).

Humans have an innate connection to nature, and spending time in natural environments can reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression while improving cognitive function, creativity, and overall psychological wellbeing. One therapeutic practice that has gained popularity is Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese practice that involves immersing oneself in the forest environment while mindfully engaging with the senses. This practice has been shown to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve mood and cognitive function.

In addition to Forest Bathing, various other nature connection activities can enhance mental wellbeing and deepen our relationship with the natural world, such as sound walks, fox walking, mindful walking, hiking, birdwatching, gardening, nature journaling, and sensory explorations. These activities can be immensely beneficial for mental health and wellbeing, cultivating mindfulness, presence, and a deeper connection with nature.

Jon Gray, CEO of RVshare, emphasized the importance of outdoor time, stating, "From enhanced mood to feelings of relaxation and wellbeing, there are so many physical and mental benefits that come from breaking through the four walls and exploring open air adventures and activities... During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, we are encouraged to be mindful of how we're spending our time and factor outdoor experiences into our everyday lives, including our travel plans."

As Mental Health Week 2024 approaches, the survey's findings serve as a timely reminder of the crucial role that movement, nature, and outdoor activities play in promoting mental wellbeing. By incorporating outdoor experiences into our daily lives and travel plans, we can harness the power of nature to reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall psychological health.