The Outdoors for Dummies

#icanhelp educate Aug 09, 2023
The Outdoors for Dummies


“Why would staying inside make me feel worse?”


Self Isolation is the Number One Mental Health Culprit

Self-isolation can contribute to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or depression and is linked to the development of different mood disorders due to the lack of social interaction. When alone, it is easier to bottle up emotions during difficult times, which leads to a spiral of thoughts that continues to be disarrayed without anyone around to help organize your thoughts. 


During moments of stress, our body produces oxytocin, a hormone responsible for our desire to seek comfort from other people. It calms our body down when it is produced in larger amounts and acts as an inflammatory response for our blood vessels, helping our long-term health. However, it can be produced in greater amounts when we are around people we trust, so isolation can lead to greater risks in emotional and physical health.


You Need Sunlight to Feel Good

The lack of natural light is also another factor of consideration as the imbalance of light disrupts our natural circadian rhythm, a biological cycle depending on our exposure to light and darkness. The cycle is responsible for when hormones are produced, which influences our sleep schedule, mood regulation, and metabolism. 


A hormone called serotonin is produced by our brain to boost alertness and happiness when we are under light and in turn, melatonin is produced when there is darkness in order to put us to sleep. Indoors, the presence of artificial light may not be enough to boost the production of serotonin during the times we need it, and instead, you may end up feeling drowsy during the day time from the lack of sun and wide awake during the night due to the blue light exposure. 


Not only is it important to get sun, but to maintain mood fluctuations and cognitive function, getting the right amount of both light and darkness is key. Naturally, movement and light exposure will cause you to feel drowsy during the night.


It Sucks, But You Do Need To Exercise More

The body also tends to remain lethargic without exercise, making it more difficult to fulfill tasks that require physical effort. As such, professionals say it’s crucial to spend around 20 minutes outside to maintain positive moods through proper vitamin D intake. Going outside doesn’t need to be hard. There are many ways to make going outside fun and with a few tricks, it can be an enjoyable experience. 

“How can I address my introversion when going outside?”


Bring an activity

Personal hobbies don’t have to be kept inside, but can be enjoyed in different locations to keep you busy while you soak up the sun and not all of them have to be sports. Bringing a book for instance while you’re out at the park can make time go by faster or can keep you entertained during a picnic. Other activities might include:

  • Crocheting
  • Drawing
  • Homework
  • Listening to music
  • Playing games on your device or portable console


The purpose of outdoor excursions is to avoid staying inside for too long.



Visit indoor locations during your time outside. Leaving the house does not have to entail an entire outing in the wild, but can be short intervals of walking around a park and then going into a mall. Transiting or driving to the areas that you want to go to can also help those who tend to dislike heat, while still exposing you to sunlight. Staying active and leaving a stagnant state of being inside promotes your physical health and also the right amount of exposure around other people. 


Set a goal

Plan an activity that you hope to complete by a certain time. This method allows you to feel in control, and organizes when you have spent enough time outside to go back home. Forcing yourself to sunbathe outside does not need to be an option if you are uncomfortable. Small tasks like these are enough to supply your daily dose of activity and sun:

  • Getting groceries
  • Sending/picking up mail
  • Walking the dog
  • A quick walk around the neighborhood


Make a list of certain errands you need to run and incorporate some time outdoors while completing them. For example, if you need to get some homework done, think about changing the environment that you work in and walk to a nearby cafe for a change of scenery. When you complete one assignment you know it’s okay to head back home.


Bring a friend

If planning things feel too overwhelming for you, ask a friend or family member to plan something with you. Trusted people can also take you with them while they complete their own errands or introduce you to new places you haven’t been before. During times where there is nothing to do, it is the perfect time to reach out to friends you have been missing, to catch up and connect after a long time apart. This summer is the time to slowly brush up on your social skills.

It’s okay to be uncomfortable

“Lean into discomfort” - David Choe (The Joe Rogan Experience: Episode 1518)


Remember, the goal isn’t to love the outdoors, it’s to be comfortable being yourself outside. It will take some trial and error to get yourself motivated and in the right mindset, however, with some of the strategies listed above, leaving the house does not have to be impossible. Pushing through your social anxiety or desires for isolation is difficult but you aren’t alone. There is a place for you in the outside world.

The Outdoors for Dummies

Author: Quizzy Toca, Seasonal Content Creation Specialist | Digital4Good



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