This is a guest post
There’s a lot of press about high-stress careers, but few people mention the world’s most challenging job — parenting. It’s a 24/7 affair with no breaks and few — if any — supportive backups. Busy moms need the stress-relieving power of the outdoors more than anyone.
Doing so may require a mindset shift and some adjustments to your schedule. However, you reap enormous benefits for your mental and physical health that make it easier to tackle your day’s many tasks.
Here’s how spending time outdoors can relieve stress for busy moms.
Surrounds You With Fresh Oxygen
Step outside and inhale as deeply as you can. You can almost feel the cobwebs clear away from your mind. Every cell in your body relies on a steady oxygen supply. However, indoor air can get stale and contain more pollutants. Who wants to bathe their neurons in that?
Why is outdoor air fresher? Plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, producing a ceaseless new supply. Additionally, humans are a part of the natural world. You’re so well-adapted to outdoor living that one of your necessary hormones — vitamin D — depends on sun exposure if you don’t get enough through food. If you spend every waking moment indoors, is it any wonder you sometimes feel as stuck and helpless as a fish out of water?
Makes It Less Likely You’ll Get Sick
Plants aren’t only oxygen factories. They also release phytoncides — chemicals they produce for defense. Inhaling these substances helps bolster the human body’s natural guard. Those who spend considerable time outdoors have more vital immune cells to fight germs.
Furthermore, vitamin D plays such a crucial role in immunity that Dr. Fauci recommended supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting outside helps you make more of it.
You know, getting sick hampers your productivity and leads to missed days of work that only stress you out further upon your return. Spend more time outside and decrease your chances of the hassle.
Enhances Memory and Focus
Here’s a stressful scenario — you’re running late but can’t find your keys or the flash drive where you saved your big presentation. Either way, it’s crunch time, and your memory fails you.
Spending time outdoors is proven to enhance your memory and focus. Researchers found the brains of those who spend time outside have more gray matter in their right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — a part of your brain associated with planning, regulating actions, and cognitive control. Deficiencies in this region correlate with psychiatric and memory problems.
Earlier studies show simply gazing at pictures of natural scenes eases stress and increases focus. Immersing yourself in the natural world is even better.
Helps Your Kids Do Better in School
What’s another source of busy-mom stress? Having one of your children struggle in school can add a few gray hairs to your head.
Fortunately, outdoor play does wonders for a child’s focus and concentration, and few complain about a trip to the playground. You can also take mindful nature walks with your little one or practice yoga in the garden.
Furthermore, you can be a powerful advocate for other kids. Let the school board know you support recess and physical education. Unfortunately, many schools have cut back on both of these activities in favor of spending more time on the 3 Rs, but pushing harder doesn’t result in higher test scores. Push your district to stick with the science — kids need unstructured outdoor play to perform at their best.
Improves Your Sleep Quality
A lack of sleep can create stress for busy moms. Sleep deprivation often equates to elevated cortisol levels during the day. Too much of this stress hormone in your bloodstream can make you anxious.
Getting sufficient Zzzs keeps this hormone’s levels in check. Finally, going outdoors inspires you to be more active — more movement during the day equates to better rest at night.
It Eases Anxiety and Depression Symptoms
Perhaps the greatest gift Mother Nature gives modern humans is her soothing touch with mental health troubles. Stress, anxiety, and depression often go hand in hand. Stress activates a brain-body pathway called your HPA axis that spurs the production of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
However, you can only keep running on all cylinders for so long before you crash. Coming “down” often means sinking into despair, but spending time outdoors can heal. A new study shows people who spend 1.5 hours in natural light daily have the lowest depression risk.
Busy Moms Need Time Outside
If you’re a busy mom feeling stressed, consider a playground trip. It will let your kiddos burn off steam while providing you with impressive mental and physical health benefits that calm your frazzled nerves. Doing so also boosts your immunity, brainpower, and focus, so life stresses you less.