Charge Up for Good Health

Open the Door to a Better Mood

Being in nature can do wonders for your soul and happiness.

Some days, I’m stuck inside. Whether it’s meeting a deadline at my desk or doing some long-neglected chores, I’m trapped in the house -- and it’s awful. By the time I’m done with my work, I’m antsy and restless. I snap at my kids. I’m less tolerant of nonsense.

But the minute I head outdoors -- either to do some gardening, biking or walking -- the fog lifts, and I feel human again. My mood instantly improves.

There’s nothing like the great outdoors to soothe the soul and nourish the heart. Some days, while I’m picking raspberries in my backyard or even just pulling weeds, I gaze around and admire the beauty that surrounds me. The goldfinches singing at our feeder. The Queen Anne’s lace growing outside our shed. The squirrels darting about our yard. It’s a kind of bliss that’s hard to describe but I know I can’t find anywhere else.

Maybe that’s why I’ve made it a priority to get outside every day this summer. I walk the dog. I hike at the local park. I go on bike rides. Being outside ensures that I’m active and helps me keep my stress in check. No doubt, I’m a much more patient mom when I’ve had my daily dose of nature.

Unfortunately, we’ve become a society that prefers the indoors, where controlled temperatures keep us comfortable, and screens capture our attention. And let’s face it: Some days, I don’t want to be outside either. Between the relentless humidity and the nasty bugs, I’d much rather just hibernate in my air-conditioned house.

But then I step out to get the mail or take the dog out. I take a whiff of the clean air and gaze out at the escarpment in the distance. In that moment, I realize that being in nature is as essential to me as meeting my deadlines or cleaning the house.

That night, when the air cools down, I know I’ll take an after-dinner walk.

How long do you spend in the outdoors every day?