Hey friends. I wanted to make this post because I’ve found that as the weather warms up I’m still remaining a bit of a shut in this year. Depression, fear, or even being triggered by the seasons can lead to staying inside in your free time. I’m a believer in the positive mental health benefits from enjoying nature and being active, so I’d like to post a few tips for those out there who peer through their blinds in the morning, glaring at the sun and the neighbors mowing the lawn— but are perhaps wishing they could go out and enjoy spring.
1. Do what is best for you. Ride your bike if you like to ride your bike. Walk if you like walking! If you can’t do those things, try sitting out in your yard or in a park. Try not to feel bad about not being able (physically or mentally) to do certain tasks.
2. It’s okay if you have to give up. These things take time. Start small. 15 minutes, then thirty, then an hour.
3. Go places that feel safe to you. Try to make memorable positive experiences in those places. If you like a particular park, street, spot in the backyard, or beach, make an effort to go there. If animals make you happy, find a place where people frequently walk their dog.
4. Don’t feel bad if you need a distraction. Try reading a book or listening to some music.
5. If hyper vigilance is a problem for you and you find yourself feeling uneasy trying to “distract”, instead focus on being mindful. Feel the grass under your feet. Listen to bird songs. Practice a calming breathing exercise. Focus on relaxation and getting comfortable.
Ways to motivate yourself to go outside
1. Open up a window in the morning. For me, steps I take early on in the day set the mood for the rest of the day. Open the window and catch a breeze. Listen to the outside noises. Let some sunlight in. This might help warm you up to going outside.
2. Plan an activity that involves the outdoors. Maybe there’s a spot you like to bike to: do that! Maybe you want to plant a garden. Maybe you want to have a bird feeder out back. Take your pet for a walk if you have one.
3. Find friends who will encourage you to come out to the park. Socializing can get really tough if you’re experiencing symptoms. Maybe there’s one person in your life who really understands what’s going on with you. Open up to them. Express a need to enjoy the outdoors and to relax. Find some activities you and that friend can do together to make it less scary.
Here are some places you can read about the positive benefits of the outdoors for people suffering from PTSD: