Horsetail Falls, Columbia Gorge, Portland, OR

Cars honking. Crowded commutes. Constant construction. Long hours in the office… City life can be loud, crowded, and stressful. According to this study from the American Institute of Biological Sciencesliving in an urban environment increases stress levels. When stress levels go up, the risk of developing anxiety and depression can also increase. As the world’s population grows, more people are moving into urban areas and away from natural environments. The UN projects that by 2050, an additional 2.5 billion people will have moved to urban areas.

When the body experiences high levels of stress, it can cause high blood pressure and lower our immune systems, making the body susceptible to heart disease and increase the chances of catching a cold or other illness. A 2011 study shows that being outdoors can lower blood pressure, which reduces the “stress hormone,” cortisol. According to a 2010 study, one of the most accessible, easy, and free ways to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression that is brought on by an urban lifestyle is to get yourself to a green space. Whether that’s visiting a local park or taking a month-long camping trip through the forest, getting back into nature can help reduce the negative effects an urban lifestyle has on the body.

You don’t need to make a huge time commitment in order to feel the benefits of being outdoors. According to the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy, just 40 minutes of activity in nature like hiking, walking, jogging, or simply picnicking in a green space can be beneficial to your health. And, when you are in nature for extended periods of time, the physical and mental benefits can be felt long afterward.

Being outside is also conducive to physical activity. Whether you’re going for a hike, geocaching, or simply exploring natural surroundings, you are doing a world of good for your wellbeing. Try these tips for getting the most of your time outside:

Put down your devices.

  • Our phones are little boxes of stress that constantly beep and bloop to remind us to answer emails and messages or check our notifications from various apps. Disconnect and leave any and all screens in your RV or vehicle’s glove compartment. If you cannot leave your device somewhere in your vehicle, simply power it down and don’t be tempted to turn it back on!

Taking deep, long, intentional breaths can help quell stress.

Play a game

  • No matter what age, anyone can appreciate a good game. Start a game of Hide and Seek or “I Spy” when you’re outside! Not only will you boost your physical activity a little bit more, you will notice more about your surroundings than if you were on your phone. Playing outdoor games is a great way to be present in the moment and have fun.

Try Something New

  • Ever been geocaching before? Or maybe there’s a secret waterfall hiking trail you’ve heard about but have yet to try. Planning your next outdoor excursion is the perfect opportunity to try something new!

What is your favorite way to get back to nature? Tell us about it! Visit thousandtrails.com to get inspired and book your next outdoor adventure!Posted in: Fun Facts Tagged: forest therapygeocachinggetting outsidehikingnaturenature therapystress relievers