Do you find yourself feeling less and less like yourself? Perhaps you feel sadder, angrier, foggier, more bored, more fatigued, or more irritable than usual?
If so, you’re not alone. We have all had our fill of the hysteria and devastation COVID-19 has caused.
And a whole year later, it still isn’t over. Sure, the end is in sight. But it isn’t as close as most of us would hope. So even now, we’re going to have to learn how to maintain some level of peace and happiness until life returns to some semblance of normalcy.
Thankfully, according to a new study, there’s at least one simple thing we can all do to help make it through these troubling times…
Unplug and get outdoors
A study that appeared in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that just turning off your devices and spending time outdoors could make you happier, even in the midst of continued COVID-19 restrictions. And I have to say, it’s nice to see some actual science behind the advice I’ve been giving you this whole time.
The study took place during April 2020, when Austrians were ordered to stay at home, except for specific activities, like exercise. (Naturally, being a European study—lockdown efforts were better coordinated on the whole.)
Austrian researchers analyzed levels of loneliness and happiness during lockdown in relation to:
- Being outdoors
- Engaging in screen time (including TV, computer, and smartphone use)
Ultimately, they found that people were happier when they were outdoors—and less happy being indoors, engaging in screen time. Feelings of loneliness also affected happiness levels. But this was mitigated when people got outside.
Needless to say, the message here couldn’t be any clearer.
Give Netflix a break
We all know the damaging toll that this pandemic—and especially the lockdowns and restrictions—have taken on our collective mental health. Humans are social creatures by nature. And denying that need is obviously going to lead to problems, which we’re already starting to see en masse.
So when you think about it, news doesn’t really get any better than this. If something as simple as spending time outdoors can keep even one person from teetering over the edge, then we should be encouraging everyone to get out regularly.
This simple stress-reliver is one that allows us to maintain some degree of safe social contact with the people we love, while also encouraging physical activity. All of which is valuable to your mental health.
So especially as spring emerges, with another season of warm and sunny days right around the corner, perhaps it’s time to break up with your devices for a while and start a new love affair with the great outdoors.
Just remember to wear your mask!
P.S. As you know, my beloved beagle, Remington, has been a constant source of companionship throughout this pandemic. But more than half of all older Americans have at least one pet nowadays—and not surprisingly, a new poll shows that most of them credit their four-legged friends for a long list of benefits (like happiness and companionship). I talk all about it in the December 2019 issue of Logical Health Alternatives (“The surprising secret to living better, longer”). Not yet a subscriber? Click here now!
“Heading outdoors keeps lockdown blues at bay: Study finds time spent outdoors is associated with higher levels of happiness.” Science Daily, 01/08/2021. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210108084121.htm)