Will Time Outside Improve Your Mental Health?
Would it surprise you to learn the average American spends more than 7 hours looking at a screen each day? (DataReportal 2022 Global Overview Report). Or maybe that doesn’t surprise you? Do you find yourself inclined to retreat at home to reduce stressful daily interactions, taking care of as much as you can with the click of a button?
As convenient as this strategy seems, the truth is that staying inside to avoid stress increases your feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
Current research published by the Journal of Global Health points to a clear connection between outdoor time and mental health. It’s compelling that 98% of studies in which exposure and engagement with natural environments were monitored showed that mental health outcomes improved as a result of even short exposure. It’s as if we were designed to respond positively—physically and emotionally—to the colors, sights, sounds, and design of nature.
This makes perfect sense if you believe God made us in His image to interact with Him in the world He created. Remember how it all started? Adam and Eve were dwelling in the abundant garden of Eden, where they had everything they needed (Gen. 2:9) and direct access to their Creator (Gen. 3:8-9). Although the fall separated mankind from God and the perfect garden, the Bible reminds us that creation points us back to our Creator:
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.” ~Job 12:7-10
God designed us to see Him in creation. Spending time outside teaches us about God’s character, provision, and purpose. When we see His intricate design, boundless creativity, and limitless capability on display, we can trust that He will sustain us too.
You can access this intentionally created classroom anytime—just step outside. You don’t need a scenic trail to experience this healing combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Walk down the street, take a new route, and look for the lessons God puts in your path.