3 Reasons to Get Outside (Especially During This Time of Year)

3 Reasons to Get Outside (Especially During This Time of Year)

It’s hard to ignore that fall has peaked and we’re barrelling headfirst into the depths of winter. 

For some, this means it’s time to break out the skis; for others, to hunker down deep and fully embrace “cozy season.” Amidst the idyllic decor, aesthetic coffees and hot cocoas, and cheery holiday snapshots, it's easy to feel like everyone is existing in a state of peppermint white mocha flavored bliss. 

But, for a lot of folks, this time of year is tough.

Days are getting shorter, cold weather is setting in, and change is abundant. If you’ve been feeling a little wonky (or, perhaps, very), the good news is: you aren’t alone! And, though there is no silver bullet solution to being in a fall-time funk, there’s one simple thing you can do to combat it: 

Go outside. 

We know, we know–this sounds contradictory. After all, we just went through all the reasons you probably aren’t itching to leave your house (ahem, colder weather and more darkness). Rolling up in your fluffiest blanket, staying on your couch, and binge-watching The Great British Baking Show might sound like the most appealing option–and admittedly, it’s tempting. 

But we’re here to make the case that throwing on an extra jacket (and gloves, and a hat…) and spending even ten minutes outdoors can make a huge difference. 

Interested in learning why? Let’s dive in. 

1. Going outside can boost your mood. 

Imagine this: it’s been a rough day at work. You were looped in on one too many should-have-been-an-email Zoom calls, the project you’re working on hit yet another roadblock, and you feel drained. 

You see your pup sitting next to the door, and decide to take them on a quick walk around the block. 

By the time you’re back, as if by magic, you feel calmer, more collected, and a whole lot less stressed. 

Sound familiar? 

Turns out the mood boost that comes from getting outdoors isn’t magic–it’s science. Research has shown that being outside is associated with greater happiness and can help decrease feelings of hopelessness and sadness. One study went so far as to show that just 20 minutes in a park resulted in a 64% jump in participants’ life satisfaction. So, if you’re feeling a little down, try taking a quick break outside. 

2. Getting outdoors provides a break from information overload. 

Want to guess how much time the average American spends looking at a screen everyday? 

Drumroll, please… 

7 hours and 4 minutes 

Just think about the number of images, advertisements, words, and other stimuli you’re exposed to in that time (not to mention everything that exists in, you know, the non-screen world). 

Talk about overload. 

A great way to combat this overstimulation is to head outside, and to leave your devices behind. 

Walking around without your emotional support screen–erm, phone–might feel awkward at first. You might find yourself wondering: Where do I look? How do I hold my hands?? What if someone tries to talk to me???

Over time, however, your brain will adapt. It will start to welcome the chance to observe your surroundings and just…be. Couple this with the mood-boosting effects of getting outdoors? Sounds ideal to us! 

3. Spending time outside can lead to higher-quality ZZZs.  

In case boosting your mood and giving your brain a break weren’t reasons enough to get outdoors today, here’s a final benefit: studies show that spending time outside can help improve the quality of your sleep. 

Here’s why: 

Your body pays attention to when it’s light and dark outside. The hours of sunlight, in particular, influence your body’s circadian rhythm, which dictates when you feel alert and when you feel tired.

By getting outside (yes, even on cold and cloudy days!), you’re helping your body to better understand when it should be awake and when it should sleep. This is especially important during times of the year when the amount of daylight changes. 

Need some cold(er) weather outdoor activity recs? We’ve got you covered! 

Ready to reap the benefits of getting outside, but unsure what to do? Depending on where you live, your go-to outdoor activities might be a bit less accessible this time of year. Sure, you could invest in a pair of snowshoes or take up cross-country skiing (Both of which are a blast!). But, there are also plenty of options that don’t require specialized gear to begin. 

Here are a few of our favorites: 

  • Block a little time on your work calendar and commit to going on a daily walk (even if it’s only for five minutes) 
  • Turn your coffee date into a coffee walk (warm beverages level up cold walks 1000%)
  • Meet up with a local running group (going with others can help hold you accountable!) 
  • Take your dog on a jaunt outdoors. And, if you don’t have one, volunteer to take a friend’s! 

Another great way to get outdoors during winter? Joining an outdoor cleanup! At Keep Nature Wild, we host cleanups at a variety of locations, across several states. It’s a great way to connect with your local community, meet new people, and reap all the benefits of spending time outdoors. Interested? We’d love for you to join

Learn more about cleanups and sign up here! 

About the Author: 

Megan is a Midwesterner-turned-mountain lover who spends her time hiking, trail running, and skiing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Find more of her work here. 

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