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Want to Feel Smarter, Stronger, and Free-er? Get Outside. by Liz Lawrence MA, LPC-S

photo by unsplash.com on pexels.com and graphic by author on canva.com

photo by unsplash.com on pexels.com and graphic by author on canva.com

Hello Reader. I really, really enjoy being outside.

I’m about to head out for a week-long outdoor adventure and I am looking forward not only to the week but also to the benefits after the week. Did you know that being outside on a regular basis can help you feel smarter, stronger, and well free-er? It can and if you keep reading, you will pick up some helpful inspiration to open the door and enjoy the outdoors.

Of course, right now in Austin we have rolling heat advisories because it IS summer in TX. However, I still find time early morning and late evening to enjoy the amazing benefits of being outside.

Sure I have allergies…I mean it IS Austin.

Sure I don’t like bugs crawling on me. But spray works and still the benefits are… Worth. It.

How often do you take advantage of the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual benefits of the outdoors?

“We are influenced by our environment in ways that we are not aware of,” researcher Netta Weinstein says.

 

How being outside helps you feel smarter

  • Taking a break from current tasks brings a beautiful pause for your brain and can increase performance or productivity. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and just google it and see lots of credible research.
  • Memory and attention is increased when you allow yourself to get outside in nature for at least 20 minutes. One study[i] shows that walking down a busy street doesn’t give you those same benefits.
  • The break or time outside doesn’t have to be a day-long event either. Short breaks have discernible benefits, especially if the weather is not conducive to long breaks. Like our Austin weather in July…even outside in water can be a bit much some days.
  • Being outdoors not only increases creativity, it can also help us feel more calm, more generous, and generally nicer.

 

How being outside helps you feel stronger

  • “Spending time in nature is a great way to find physical rejuvenation. I always feel relaxed when I’m unplugged and outdoors. It turns out the reason is that nature is a stress killer. Michael Hyatt”
  • When your body releases its daily stress load, you have more energy and less muscle tension. This increase of energy and muscle flexibility actually helps you feel stronger physically.
  • Being outside plus being active, even light activity, increases confidence as you experience your body moving and doing activities you previously only thought of doing.

 

How being outside helps you feel free-er and more spiritually connected

  • We are hard-wired to be outside and most daily lives rob us of our innate design to regularly be outside. Originally our home was a garden when God created man and woman. A garden! Not an Austin summer dry grass field. We’re meant to live substantial portions of our lives outside.
  • Spending time outside gives us time to pause and enjoy creation. As we delight in what has been made, we in turn can give thanks to the One who created it all.
  • Exploring new places outside reconnects us to the heart of a child. Play and curiosity were once our normal experiences. We let go of the chores of the day as we let ourselves be drawn into the new place, whether it’s something like a slightly hidden picnic table, a garden path, a potting shed, a rock overhang, or a glistening blue pool of water.
  • As we pause to enjoy and be grateful, our hearts open up again. Being outdoors for our hearts is like water to dormant grass. Often our daily lives don’t have enough substance to keep our hearts, our souls, fresh and growing. So being outside puts us back in a place that gives life. Sitting outside in the shade during the cool of the day or the evening, I can sense my heart being refreshed and I can just listen to God speak.

 

If you are spending all day, every day, indoors then you are missing the benefits!

 

So, given your current schedule and location:

  • How can you get outside a couple times this week? If the weather is inclement for you too, take precautions of staying hydrated, covered, and safe before and after dark.
  • If you can’t get outside, how can you walk indoors where there is nature—like an arboretum, garden house; or look at photos of the outdoors?
  • Which one of these do you long for most right now: smarter, stronger, more spiritually connected?
  • Who can you call to join you outside this week?

 

I’m writing this while it is currently 99 degrees Celsius outside with a heat index of 111-I just checked. Yep, I’m staying indoors for a bit. But when I do go out around sundown for a family walk, we will most likely walk slow to enjoy the expanding sunset and we will probably sit on a grassy spot to listen to the birds, crickets and nearby laughing children. Just thinking of that brought a smile to my face and a sigh.

 

Here’s praying you enjoy your next, and hopefully more consistent, time outside!

You go, you strong, smart and spirit-filled outdoorsy person, you!

 

Connect with me and let me know how it goes!

 

Warmly,

Liz

 

Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S is counselor, coach and creative who is passionate about people. She directs a counseling center in Austin, Texas and co-leads the non-profit Renue.Me whose mission is to invest in the dreams of leaders in underprivileged communities around the world. Connect with her at www.lizlawrencelpc.com  or www.renue.me

 

Photo Credits:

Photo from unsplash.com curated by Pexels.com free stock images; Graphic by Author on Canva, free graphic tools

 

[i] http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424053111904199404576538260326965724

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