The Monday blahhhs. No matter what your work schedule, that first day back at work after the weekend always seems to drag. It goes double after a long weekend and at least triple after a holiday. Did you know going outside is a scientifically proven cure? And you don’t even have to strain yourself to feel the positive effects!

1. Even looking at nature through a window generally ups your mental well-being.

Public bathroom window in Downtown Vancouver...

Rachel Kaplan (University of Michigan) found that office workers with a view of nature reported greater life satisfaction. They also liked their jobs more and enjoyed better health. She has a PhD in psychology; you should listen to her. Imagine what actually going outside can do for you?

2. Your desktop background could be helpful, too.

Terry A. Hartig (PhD, MPH) showed people photographs of a forested area and of downtown Stockholm. The forest slides boosted people’s mood. If your desktop background helps, then following an outdoor blog definitely does. You’re welcome.

3. Nature is a pain-reliever.

Roger S. Ulrich, PhD, is the director of the Centre for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University. His study found that heart surgery patients with access to (or at least views of) green spaces had reduced healing time and needed fewer pain medications.

4. The Japanese have a name for it: “Shinrin Yoku”.

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It means “forest bathing” and it’s a relaxation and stress management method. Shinrin Yoku isn’t about exercise. It’s about being in that moment and opening all your senses to the forest. I know I’ve arrived at parks stressed out on any number of occasions and felt calmer within minutes.

5. Beat the flu season.

Okay that one may not be directly true. But spending time in forests can boost your immune system and that is factual. Strenuous exercise isn’t recommended, but if you spend lots of time among the trees on a regular basis, your immune system will thank you.

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What these studies have in common is that being outside is good for you physically and mentally. A good easy visit is Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, B.C.

The park used to be a hidden gem, a local’s secret alternative to the super-touristy Capilano Suspension Bridge. These days it’s not so quiet but it’s still a good spot in off-peak times.

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The popular trail takes you across the Suspension Bridge and down to Thirty Foot pool. It has a great little swimming hole if you’re feeling brave – that water is coming off ice melt after all. Believe me, even in the summer, it’s the kind of temperature that will lock your lungs when you first jump in. I love it!

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There is a whole network of trails in the park, though. From Lynn Canyon you can reach Lynn Headwaters Park, Rice Lake, and the Seymour Demonstration Forest. The trails are well-marked and you’ll find posts with maps along your way every so often. If you’re going a rainy day, wear footwear that can handle mud.

I have to make a small guilty admission here: I know I’ve gone on an elementary school field trip to their Ecology Centre but I can’t remember it. In my defence, it was a long time ago and to be fair it would have changed loads since then. If you’ve been recently, let me know about your experience!

IF YOU GO:

  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Public Transit: Yes.
  • Parking: Yes
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash.

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