As 2023 arrives, rather than making New Year resolutions you can’t stick to, make one simple change in your life. Get outside more.
Ben Reynolds from South Devon College says putting aside the tech and getting out in the fresh air is good for our mental health and wellbeing.
“We have so many wonderful places on our doorstep here in Devon to explore,” said Ben, Adventure Leadership and Sports Programme Co-ordinator.
“The outdoors is accessible and available, and you can access it for free. You don’t need fancy kit or clothing you can simply go for a walk on the coast path or beach.”
Ben who is also studying for a Master’s Degree in Outdoor Education says being outside reduces stress and helps us be more attentive to what’s going on around us.
“The modern world creates stress and mental fatigue. We need to take ourselves back into the outdoor environment. Even in the middle of our towns there is nature and places to explore.
“By getting people out into their local places they can build a connection with nature in their local environment, and this can help them to build a link to their global environment.”
It’s been scientifically proven that being outside in nature reduces stress levels and during the pandemic more people ventured out into their local area due to travel restrictions. Now life is getting back to normal it is important to remember the many benefits people received from spending time in their local environment.
However there has been an increase in people spending time by the coast and wild swimming, known as blue exercise and spending time in the local woods and green spaces, known as green exercise.
22 year old Joseph Barnett completed a Level 3 Outdoor Activity Instructor apprenticeship before going on to study a degree in Outdoor Adventure Leadership at University Centre South Devon. He says being outside has made him much more relaxed.
“I used to be quite stressed out but since being outside I am much more chilled. I also find now I’m not jealous of anyone or anything. I am doing the thing I want to do.”
When he graduates Joseph plans to work in either Norway or New Zealand. “The sky’s the limit – you get into it and work out what you enjoy and then specialise.”
Gareth Crome from South Devon who is doing the Level 5 Outdoor Learning Specialist higher apprenticeship says his love of the outdoors started at primary school.
“I went on a residential in Year 6 and I was top of the class. I wasn’t academic at school and the teachers all saw a different side of me. I was listening and switched on.
“Being outdoors allows you to forget what’s going on in a hectic world. It gives you time to think,” said Gareth. “Being around nature makes you relax.”