Low mood, high stress, low self-esteem. All bad for your wellbeing, and all unfortunately very common.
Succumbing to the pressure to conform when social media faces you with swathes of what it likes to think are ‘perfect people’ is easy. It is common to get sucked into trying to attain that ideal image and seeing yourself as less-than. Although it’s a positive and healthy change that ‘strong is sexy’ is in vogue for women’s bodies over the extreme thinness that was once strived for, feeling pressure to look a certain type of way is never healthy (for women or men). Feeling negatively about the way your body looks can be detrimental to your self-esteem. Working out is supposed to be rewarding, not a punishment, and you should be loving, not hating, your body at all stages of your fitness journey.
Feeling down and stressed can stem from many unavoidable aspects of life. Whether it be school, work, or relationship dramas, life doesn’t always go smoothly. Unfortunately for many, low mood and high stress can stick around longer than it should or feel to be permanent. Whatever the case is, there are things you can do to combat these feelings.
Working out, in general, makes you feel good (thank you, endorphins), and is obviously good for your health. A lot of us also spend the majority of our time cooped up indoors, and surrounded by an urban landscape, and then go to the gym to workout indoors as well. While this is still going to help you physically and mentally, there is more you can do to keep your body and mind in top shape.
Studies into ‘Green Exercise’ are showing that moving your workout into a natural environment can do more to relieve stress, improve mood, and boost self-esteem. Even a short period of exercise in a natural environment has a substantial effect. Whats more, the improvement in self-esteem was found to be even greater for those suffering from mental illness.
For those of you who turn to the gym to lift and run away from a negative body image, who could use a pick-me-up, or just generally want to reap the benefits, consider changing it up and take your dose of exercise somewhere beautiful outdoors. A workout away from the gym won’t ruin your gains, I promise.
1. Mackay, G. J., & Neill, J. T. (2010). The effect of “green exercise” on state anxiety and the role of exercise duration, intensity, and greenness: A quasi-experimental study. Psychology of sport and exercise, 11(3), 238-245.
2. Gladwell, V. F., Brown, D. K., Wood, C., Sandercock, G. R., & Barton, J. L. (2013). The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all. Extreme physiology & medicine, 2(1), 3.
3. Barton, J., & Pretty, J. (2010). What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health? A multi-study analysis. Environmental science & technology, 44(10), 3947-3955.