The benefits of being outdoors for mental health and wellbeing have been discussed on this podcast many times. Each time you, my listeners, have expressed a great interest in this subject. So, today, we are back at it with Philip Stallard, who is a Director and Adventure Therapist at New Wave Adventure Therapy which offers outdoors based therapeutic intervention grounded in the disciplines of psychotherapy, counselling and social work.
I have talked about the importance of the outdoors for mental health and wellbeing on many occasions. This blog post comes to mind as well as podcast episodes 10 and 25. I am still blown away by the interest and feedback on the subject. In this episode we return to the topic. My guest, Orla Dempsey is a Life and Career Coach. During our conversation we talk about mud runs, how to control day to day stress levels and the importance of unplugging every now and then. Unplugging is also known as digital detox. If after listening to this episode you want more information, you can get in touch with Orla by visiting her website at orladempseycoaching.ie
Gráinne Clancy is a counsellor, psychotherapist and owner of Clancy Care Counselling. Gráinne has vast experience working with people who are going through hard times in their lives. So, I was delighted to have the opportunity to talk with her about how being in the outdoors benefits mental health. You can think of our discussion as an expansion on an article published on Tommy’s Outdoors blog titled, “Benefits of the Outdoors”. It was a very interesting conversation and I would encourage everyone to listen to it.
This article was posted earlier this year as a guest entry on the DigiGranBiz travel blog. Unfortunately the aforementioned blog no longer exists, so I decided to publish a slightly refreshed version of the original text here on Tommy’s Outdoors website.
Taking on outdoor activities is like a cure for the damaging, sedentary lifestyle that most of us are living. Our bodies are fundamentally built for movement. Prolonged hours in the same, often unnatural position, are damaging to our musculoskeletal system. Similarly our minds are built for a challenge, but not for the persistent stress that we receive in microdoses daily.
The solution is not simply a matter of going to the gym and exercising. For proper functioning our bodies and minds also need fresh air, the sounds of nature, and the light that comes from the central star known as the sun. While in nature we can disconnect from our own entangled thoughts. We can start paying attention to our surroundings and how they influence us. We will quickly notice that our minds stabilize and become relaxed. The tension in our muscles goes away. Our mood lifts.
Getting into nature also lets us leave behind most of the pollution generated by civilization. Fossil fuel fumes, chemicals, overwhelming noise, excess of the blue light generated by ubiquitous screens, and electrosmog. The harmful effects of most of these are well known and documented. The effects of others are still unknown.
Staying in a natural environment for a few days offers further benefits. The circadian rhythm, unnaturally distorted by ever-present artificial lighting, resets and begins to work in its natural way. Our eating habits begin to return to their normal pattern of around 15 hours of fasting and 9 hours of feeding.
Finally, our spiritual side gets an enormous boost. Connection with the natural environment that surrounds us, a mountain, the sea, or a forest, is very real and almost palpable. It forces us to ask the timeless questions about our own existence and place on this earth.
I hope that this short text encouraged you to spend more time in nature and to do so more consciously. The benefits are countless and the drawbacks are none. And if you feel like you are getting the bug, come back and visit this website more often and immerse yourself in the world of the outdoors. Also, subscribe to the podcast on the platform of your choice (Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, TuneIn, Podbean and more). See you in the outdoors!
In this episode, I visited sunny Waterford to meet Bernadette Phillips, sociologist, motivational speaker, radio broadcaster and the founder of New Insights For Change, to talk about Waterford Greenway. As it turned out, the greenway was only a background to a great conversation about the profound importance of the outdoors and connecting with nature.