April 9, 2024/Daily Health Stories

How the Outdoors can Improve your Mood

April is National Stress Awareness Month. A psychologist explains how something as simple as spending time in nature can help you de-stress.

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CLEVELAND - April is National Stress Awareness Month.

If you’re looking for a free and easy way to de-stress, you may want to consider spending more time in nature.

Research shows it can help boost your mood.

“Studies have shown that spending just 15 minutes outside can reduce your cortisol level, the stress hormone in the body and boost the serotonin and dopamine level, the feel-good chemicals in the brain. It is a natural stress buster,” explained Susan Albers, PsyD, psychologist for Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Albers said the sights, sounds and smells of nature can have a calming effect and can help you clear your mind.

By being present in the moment, you are practicing what’s called "mindfulness."

She said there are physical health benefits too.

For example, if you go on a hike in the woods, not only are you getting fresh air, but you’re getting some exercise in too.

And that in turn can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Plus, exposure to the sun gives you vitamin D.

“If you are looking for a family friendly activity that is free and beneficial to everyone, just step outside,” said Dr. Albers. “You can go for a walk, pack a picnic, go for a bike ride. This is a wonderful investment in the connections in your family, physical exercise, and also a great deal of memories and enjoyment.”

She advises that if you are having a hard time managing your stress and nothing seems to be helping, you should speak with a mental health professional.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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