When it comes to looking after your mental health, spending time outdoors is very important.
We live in a time where technology well and truly prevails.
Children and adults are naturally drawn to screens for both work and pleasure for a number of reasons.
Unfortunately, technology and screens dramatically reduce the amount of time we spend outdoors
. We have everything we need at home and can happily entertain ourselves there. This is especially true for children and we cannot deny that a lot of them spend more time indoors than outdoors.
The Irish weather certainly plays a part but the modern experience of childhood
is far less concerned with being outdoors than it was when we were children ourselves.
So how important is it to spend time outdoors? Can we quantify it and aim to get a certain amount of hours outdoors each day or even each week? It helps if we can understand the impact that spending time outdoors (or a lack of it) has on a person’s emotional and physical well-being.
Did you know that simply seeing a photograph of outdoor space is linked to an improvement in a person’s mood? That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. It demonstrates the effect that spending time outdoors can have on a person’s mood.
When it comes to looking after your mental health, spending time outdoors is very important and this absolutely applies to children too. Studies have shown that children who spend more time outdoors are generally happier, more confident and less anxious. There is also evidence that they are smarter too. As parents, we want these things for our children.
Spending a lot of time outdoors helps children to build confidence too. This may be linked to the fact that outdoor play tends to be less structured and allows for more opportunities to explore and create. When children are given the time and space to play freely they tend to play and interact more meaningfully with their surroundings.
This may include a curiosity about animals and wildlife for example. Children who are familiar with the outdoors will naturally want to learn more about all that surrounds them. They will see first hand the impact that our actions can have on these things and it can lead to a child becoming more considerate and thoughtful about their own actions.
Spending time outdoors will also naturally increase the amount of exercise your child is getting. There are so many benefits that come with a more active lifestyle and it will impact your child’s physical and emotional health in a number of different ways. Your child does not have to be enrolled in a Sports club to benefit from being active. Going on a family hike or letting them run around a field freely is enough to get their little heart pumping for all the right reasons.
With childhood obesity becoming an epidemic it is important that as parents we try to encourage our children to have an active lifestyle and a healthy diet where possible as overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults.
Children who spend more time outdoors will also experience less stress and fatigue because their quality of sleep will be much better. As adults, we can all relate to having a brilliant night’s sleep after a particularly active day outdoors. I don’t know about you but this summer I’m going to get out of the house as much as we physically can. I mean, better sleep is a no-brainer!
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.