With a large part of the world’s population has experienced, or currently experiencing some sort of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people are likely suffering the effects of being stucks indoors – inactive and lonely. It is becoming increasingly apparent that certain negative psychological effects can result from prolonged periods spent in such a state. Most of us know from personal experience that the resulting apathy and sadness have a way of perpetuating themselves until you do something to reset yourself. As an adventure tour company that organizes outdoor activities for groups, we can attest to the increased demand for adventure tourism post lockdown. While it is great to see so many of us are aware of ways in which to help ourselves overcome lockdown blues, our life circumstances vary, and not everyone can go on an adventure tour every time they need a boost. With that in mind, we believe you can greatly increase your quality of life and a sense of well-being by implementing three simple steps:
Spend more time outdoors
Being outdoors can impact your brain chemistry as much as some mood-lifting medications! The effects of the outdoors are multifaceted and complex, but to simplify – natural light, fresh air, and natural surroundings can have a therapeutic effect on your mind and body. Exposure to natural light and sunlight plays an important role in regulating the sleep cycle and appetite, while casual exposure to sunlight provides the body with most of its demand for vitamin D – essential for a well-functioning organism. Additionally, natural scents have a relaxing effect on the brain and higher oxygen levels in fresh air energize you by providing your brain with more oxygen. Natural colors are also known to relax and de-strain your eyes, which is especially important for those of us spending a lot of time at our desk-jobs.
Spend more time being physically active
Just like environmental factors can have a positive impact on brain chemistry, physical activity can have the same effect from within. Participating in strenuous and challenging activities can help you destress simply by distracting you from daily thoughts and worries, but it can also have a chemical effect on your brain. Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins – also known as mood-lifting hormones – responsible for curbing the effects of stress. Setting and meeting physical activity-related goals may help you practice self-control and boost your confidence. The resulting sense of achievement can also motivate you to improve other areas of your life like ditching harmful habits and improving nutrition.
Spend more time in the company of others
We are social beings by nature and even the most introverted among us can see the benefits of connecting with others. In-person social interaction impacts our mental and physical well-being and can dramatically increase our sense of happiness. Even a fist bump or a smile is enough to release the hormone oxytocin, which lowers stress levels and increases your level of trust and bonding. Being physically active with others outdoors can provide mood-boosting social benefits and could help to make us more resilient to stress factors in the long run. Enjoying the company of physically active people could also encourage us to adopt healthful habits or achieve challenging lifestyle goals.
While implementing any of these three simple steps is likely to produce a beneficial effect on its own, they go hand in hand. Consider taking up an activity that combines the therapeutic effects of nature and the physical stimulation of a workout, while getting social stimulation too. You could try simply going running or hiking with a friend or family member, or join a recreational sports team or an occasional organized activity. Don’t be discouraged if no one you know wants to join in. If you are the only one wanting to participate, remember that organized activities outdoors can be a great way to meet new people. Doctors may not be prescribing adventure as therapy yet, but if you find your mood in a slump, find yourself an adventure!