As we emerge out of another lockdown and life slowly starts becoming somewhat normal again, it can be easy to fall back into old habits. For me, that was being a workaholic. I used to work 14+ hour days to ensure I could do everything I could to support everyone. Guess what, working such long hours meant I was not serving everyone as well as I could. Working fewer hours meant I had more energy and could support more people.
But, coming out of lockdown, those old workaholic tendencies were creeping in. My days were getting longer; my stress levels were rising, my anxiety was returning. Thankfully I have an amazing coach who could see that was happening.
What do you think the one thing was that I had reduced suddenly?
Well, rather embarrassingly, it was time outdoors. Yes, the lass that has an outdoor company was forgetting to spend time outdoors herself. Ironic right?
Why did that matter?
Well, time outdoors reduces stress and anxiety for children and adults alike. There are many reasons for this, from sunlight and how it impacts our brains to the microbes in soil and more. Suddenly, I had cut that off.
Time outdoors is shown to lower blood pressure and improve sleep. Now, I do not know about you, but me, well, I need my sleep. Spending more time indoors was reducing the quality of my sleep. I could clearly see the impact of this in my sleeping pattern and when looking at my fitness tracker. Suddenly, I was going from 8 hours of high-quality sleep to 6 or less of low-quality.
Time outdoors also helps memory and academic performance. I am studying for my Masters in Learning for Sustainability. Through that period where I was working my fingers to the bone and studying, I was not taking the information in. I have gone back and rewatched lectures, and there are whole sections I have forgotten. Now, I try and take time out before studying and time after. It allows my brain to make sense of what it has just heard.
We know time outdoors benefits mental and physical health for both young and old alike. Yet, before Covid, so many people were spending time indoors. Three-quarters of people state that Covid has encouraged them to spend more time outdoors.
But, as I discovered, it can be easy to fall back into old habits. My challenge to you is to be mindful. If you enjoy time outdoors and it benefits you, ensure you continue it when lockdown lifts.
Remember, time outdoors has benefits for all. These use these to improve our lives.