We are creatures of habit. All on a path of striving to live the healthiest life possible. The path is full of great habits that are life-giving and then some habits that are just simply draining. Food and exercise are the two of the most important habits that we should pay attention to because they are what fuel and restore our bodies. But what about when we’re not at the gym or dinner table? What other habits can we do to encourage wellness?

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First of all, take some time to slow down. People are stressed more now more than ever before in our nations history. We’re too rushed to get places, that’s why they call it the human race. I encourage you to look at your weekly calendar and make some time for yourself to do something other than work. It could be a hobby you haven’t had time for, a book you’ve been meaning to read, or even time with your family. There are so many wonderful things in our lives that we just miss if we are moving too fast. This could also be because we spend too much time looking at screens. Computer screens, phone screens, T.V. screens, take some time away from them for a little.

 

Secondly, I encourage you to spend some time outside. As an environmental studies graduate from Christopher Newport University, I have spent some time studying the effects that natural landscapes have on the human brain. According to a study done at Stanford University, people who walked in natural settings showed decreased activity in the region of the brain associated with depression and anxiety. Could it really be that simple? I still wasn’t fully convinced, so I kept researching. I found multiple studies that confirmed this along with one by a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah that says, “Our brains are easily fatigued. When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too.”

But its not just our brains that are affected, spending time in nature has shown to reduce blood pressure as well. It doesn’t have to be a camping trip up to the Shenandoah mountains for a weekend! It could be joining the mountain biking crew at OP, taking your dog for a walk, or even something as simple as sitting outside on your back porch one evening.

With that, I encourage you to take a look at your day-to-day life, find time for good habits. Eat well and exercise, make some time for yourself, and get outside.