You don’t need proof that going outside is good for you.
In general, we know why we should go outside. Yet we stay inside anyway. That’s why my challenge to you isn’t to go outside in general (although I fully support that).
My challenge to you is to go outside today. ASAP.
Here’s why: you need to stop putting off time outside. You know it’s good for you, now do it.
Stop making excuses
Don’t wait for perfect weather. Don’t put it off and say “I’ll go hike this weekend.” Don’t say there’s no time. Don’t get trapped by thinking the outdoors is only for grand endeavors with mounds of fancy gear. Don’t feel guilty if it’s only a couple minutes.
Whatever shoes you are wearing right now are just fine. The clothes you have now are great. Go take a walk, sit, run, stand, lay down… whatever. Go outside.
We need to start changing how we think about the outdoors. Being outside is not just about mountain tops and adventure. It’s about the porch at your apartment, the tiny park a block away, the picnic table at work, the outdoor beer garden with friends (instead of the screen-filled sports bar). We need to start building healthy habits that get us beyond the walls of a cubical at work or the living room at home.
Most Americans spend more time in a car each day than outdoors. You likely spend more time per day with your eyes glued to phone, computer, and television screens than looking at the world around you.
And that world around you is passing right by, beyond that car window or that screen.
Our peace of mind and creativity is being entertained, distracted, and lulled to death by the products and services that profit on our attention. Social media is free and Netflix is relatively low-cost (per month at least), but these things have a much higher cost than money. While these might not waste large amounts of our dollars, they are wasting large amounts of our time.
Change how you think about being outside
Start by changing how you think about the outdoors: “outside” is not somewhere else far away. You really just need to open the door. Then make opening that door a habit.
I don’t care if that means brushing your teeth on the front stoop for a minute. In the morning, a few minutes outside observing the life around you can change your whole day, cultivating calm, creativity, and connection with others. At night, just those couple of minutes allowing yourself to look at the sky or the trees lit by the streetlamp. As a result, you could help you sleep better.
Don’t allow yourself to feel disappointed if going outdoors means your own yard or the local park, and not the top of a difficult-to-access crag. Let yourself feel lucky if you have a yard and the local park still exists. Revel in the luxury of a simple, content moment. A moment when you need nothing and no one needs anything from you.
So close the screen. Take a break and get some air outside.