If there's one thing moms know for sure, it's that parenting children is stressful. It can seem that every day brings a new set of challenges and issues that can amplify stress levels, which can often become overwhelming. The good news is that there is a way to help reduce stress levels that simply requires going outside. A new study is proving that getting outside for just 20 minutes a day can have a significant impact on reducing stress levels and making everything seem less a lot less hectic for those who live busy and stressful lives.
The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, looked at the relationship between being outside in nature and how it can affect stress levels. The study looked at 36 people who live in an urban setting over an 8 week period. The participants were told to spend time outside for a minimum of 10 minutes, at least three times a week. The study found those who spent between 20 and 30 minutes outside, either walking or even just sitting in an area they felt comfortable in, saw the greatest reduction of stress throughout the course of the study measured by the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, found in their saliva.
"We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us," Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research said.
"Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature."
Stress can affect the body in a myriad of different ways. It can affect how it functions, negatively affect your mood which in turn can affect your behavior. Many people don't even realize the headaches they're experiencing, or the lack of sex drive they have may be the direct cause of stress in their life.
The American Institute of Stress states that chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms including irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia. If these symptoms are left to build up, they can seriously affect an individual's quality of life.
While life is certainly busy and many will struggle to find that 20 minutes a day to enjoy nature, this study shows that making getting outside a priority can significantly improve stress levels which can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health.