The Importance of Playing Outside
I think I started to believe that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) might be a real thing. I write this in the middle of a very warm and sunny Hong Kong day, so why am I thinking about SAD when it’s meant to affect people in grey, dark and rainy climates?
Too Much Time Indoors
Well, I am tired of being indoors! I did some quick mental maths, and I spend on average about 21.5 hours indoors a day, and I am sure this is not too uncommon for most people:
- 11~ hours at work
- 7 hours asleep
- 1.5 hours commuting (mostly underground)
- 2 hours during meals (mostly at home or in indoor restaurants)
And the above doesn’t take into account other things like the time I spend at home doing anything else like watching TV, reading, meditating, etc. Clearly this has a big impact on my mood, and it’s the reason why I make such a big effort to go for runs outdoors and to be outside as much as possible over the weekends. It really resets my happiness!
Also, remember that most people (this might or might not mean you) don’t get enough exercise. Even if you think you do, you can always do a little more. In fact, a new study for Optimal Heart Health
shows that the average american needs to immediately double or even quadruple the amount of exercise they are doing, and one of the easiest ways to get started? Going outside for a walk or a run. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s fun.
Helps stay immune to second hand stress
One of the most obvious benefits about spending time outside is that it helps you build a natural immunity. Spending time outside is directly linked with having a strong self-esteem, and the higher your self-esteem, the more likely you will feel that you can deal with whatever situation you face. This is a sure-fire way of avoiding stress and picking up on other people’s anxiety and bad mood. Exercise is one of the best ways to build self-esteem, because your brain records a victory every time you exercise, via endorphins. You can read more about this on the Harvard Business Review here.
If you are dealing with stressful situations in your life, whether it’s a bad boss or a corrosive work environment, or you are considering big decisions like a career change, playing outside in the outdoors will give new a different perspective and will help organise your thoughts. having your subconscious process things will help you make a better decision.
I encourage you to try and add 1 hour of outdoor time a day. Go for a walk in the evening before bed, or a run in the mornings. Try to have your lunch at a park. Go for a hike over the weekend. Anything!
My “Ask For the Day”: Do this for one month, and see if your mood has improved. I know mine did.