A mental health expert is sharing the numerous benefits of spending some time outside.
"Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a depression that hit especially those of us that live in the Northern part of the world where we have less daylight. Nature can help us with that," says Terry Warburton.
Warburton is the Clinical Director at Recovery of Hope in Winnipeg. She's been with the centre for almost 20 years, starting off as a counsellor in the Winkler office.
She says that there are many positive effects of being outside, even in the winter.
"It's quite amazing what the studies talk about in relation to just going outside. There are so many benefits but especially with our emotional wellness."
While movement such as walking outside can be helpful, she shares that even just standing or sitting outside can improve our emotional state.
"Despite how cold it gets we can almost always bundle up and be warm enough," even for a short time, says Warburton.
One benefit of spending some time outside in nature is improved sleep.
"It can help our sleeping patterns. It naturally promotes these feel-good hormones, our endorphins, dopamine, those things that help us feel better. This includes helping with insomnia. One thing going outside does is relax us and reduces tension," says Warburton.
While she shares that it may not fully take away all stress, it almost always reduces it.
"There are very strong links to being outside that helps us solve problems," says Warburton.
The idea is similar to when a person tries to solve a problem by focusing on it and finding no result. Rather, a potential solution can come when daydreaming or having a shower, according to Warburton, as well as being in nature.
"The biggest obstacle is usually in our own head. Especially if we're experiencing some SAD or depression. We have to make a decision to get over ourselves, even if we tell ourselves we'll do it as an experiment."
One study shows the benefits of spending time outdoors for people who have depression.
"Those who walked indoors experienced a 45 per cent increase in their mood. Those that walked outside experienced a 71 per cent increase," she says.
For people experiencing high levels of stress, being in nature has the most benefit, according to Warburton.
"Maybe we're walking from our vehicle to the grocery store, being mindful of this, taking a deep breath and looking up. Even day to day activities, not adding something extra, there are benefits if we are just being more mindful of what we are doing."
For people that may be bedridden or housebound, there is an alternative.
"Even looking at images of nature has a benefit. It's not as great a benefit but still significant. Our view from our window makes a difference if we can be looking out into nature, too," says Warburton.