“When life feels too big to handle, go outside. Everything looks smaller when you’re standing under the sky.” L.R. Knost
The sun came out last week. In addition to spring’s longer days gently shooing winter away, this broke a profoundly long stretch of grey, wet weather. According to our local meteorologist, the week we had of blue sky days was the longest stretch that we’ve had without rain since July 9!
As sunny day followed sunny day, I noticed significant changes in how I was feeling. I was waking up before my alarm. I had a spring in my step. I found myself laughing more. It felt a little like I was stretching awake from months of heavy sleepiness that I hadn’t realized had settled over me.
As much as I know the added sunlight helps me when the seasons turn, this week it felt like something more was going on. I noticed that I was getting more checked off my list despite the fact that I was sneaking out to walk with the dogs for 45 minutes each day. Hmmm. Maybe I was getting more done because I was sneaking outside to walk the dogs?
Maybe simply getting outside under the sky daily and taking some deep breaths of fresh air after months of being mostly trapped inside, was making life feel more manageable?
My first round of research yielded information that my yoga practice has taught me over and over again – in sum, breathing is good for us body, mind and spirit.
- Taking deep, slow breaths like we do when practicing yoga strengthens our immune system by helping our white blood cells function properly killing germs and bacteria.
- The increased oxygen from deep breaths is also good for our digestive system. It helps us to digest our food more effectively and efficiently.
- These same deep, big breaths help clear our lungs of toxins, keeping us healthier and more resistant to respiratory infections like the common cold.
- Breathing likes this also makes us happier, because when we inhale more oxygen our body makes more serotonin (the happy hormone).
- Finally, the oxygen boost from deep breathing makes us feel mentally clear and sharp.
As my yoga practice hadn’t changed during our long, wet winter, there must be something more going on. An article on MentalFloss.com had some more answers:
- Sitting outside for only 20 minutes boosts your energy more than a cup of coffee!
- Moving around outside can improve our blood pressure and help lower our heart rate.
- There is proof that green grass, trees and plants can boost our psychological energy.
- Sunlight has the power to reduce stress and mitigate pain.
- Psychologists have found that being outside boosts creativity.
- As I discovered last week, being outside also restores our focus, making us more efficient and productive.
- Finally, psychologists have found that getting out into nature helps us stay aligned with what really matters to us –our relationships, the communities we share and our ability to give back.
In fact, the wise writers of Gossip Girl agree –
“Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air and remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be.”
With all of that, it’s no surprise that even a little time outside each day last week left me feeling energized and brighter. In fact, it could be said that getting outdoors was like giving myself a happiness infusion!
Until it’s warm enough to unroll my yoga mat on my patio, I’m going to keep following my dogs around the woods near my house. How about you? What will you be doing out there under the sky?