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The power of the great outdoors

A good friend recently asked me about the effects of being outside in the lush green of a summer garden and it got me thinking of the many research articles on this very thing and how sometimes we underestimate its power. On one of the Facebook counselling forums I belong to someone also asked for ways in which people help to clear their mind between clients and I realised it’s nature. Walking in the garden even for 5 minutes or a lovely walk through the woods if I have 30 minutes to spare can change your mood entirely. Studies have found that the effects of even a single exposure to nature in some form can last for seven hours. So, if you have a dog, walking it first thing could be just the way to set you up for the day. I personally find I feel very different if I’ve hung the washing out before the school run. That blissful 15 minutes of early morning sun, birds singing, and fresh air clearly have an effect.

In addition, the numerous studies on the benefits of walking, running, gardening and many other outdoor pursuits may well be associated with exercise but also the effect of our surroundings. A new study has recently found that even sitting in a park for 20-30 minutes can lower the levels of stress hormones by 10%. So, while we have some lovely summer weather, lots of lush greenness and lovely daylight evenings maybe it’s time for you to take a break in the great outdoors.