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Be Nice to Yourself: Go Outside at 60 and Beyond

By Verla Fortier January 30, 2022 Mindset

Do you need to feel better? What can you do about that right now?

You don’t have to wait for your next vacation or the weekend. Invite yourself outside to sit on a bench in the park for a few minutes or for a short stroll.

Go outside. Get yourself out there. Go no matter how you feel. You don’t have to wait. Go out in any kind of weather.

Going Outside: An Act of Self-Compassion

Think of going outside as an act of self-compassion. Think of going outside as treating yourself with kindness and gentleness. Try treating yourself as you would treat a friend. Invite yourself outside for a walk.

The moment you step outside and notice one new thing you never noticed before, you will be in the present moment.

You May Not Be Aware of Your Own Mind State

You may not be aware of our own mind state. Your thoughts might be squirreling around in a constant mental chatter.

You might be suffering. You might be criticizing yourself. You might be in incredible pain. The stress hormone, cortisol, might be racing around in your veins. Your reptilian brain might be lit up. You might feel attacked. You might be completely unaware that these are thoughts – they are not you.

Going outside is a way to feel safe again. The science is clear. Our minds and bodies respond to trees, shrubs, and grass. Being out for a short time in any green space around trees turns down our stress response. Going outside changes our thought patterns and lifts our mood.

It’s Easier Than You Think

Going outside even for a few minutes will give you comfort. Start small. A minute or two a day will do the trick.

Since we all spend 93% of our time inside, going outside for frequent microbreaks will shift your mindset.

As a society, we have unlearned our ability to go outside. Our inside schedules have taken over. It is not easy to step away from our inside work, screens, beds, couches, food, and loved ones.

Try using Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg’s simple strategy of tiny habits. I use this approach. It works because it requires no will power.

If you are near a tree, look into its branches and reap the benefits of the stress-reducing fractals.

Go outside for an optimal mindset. Once I am outside, I call this “my beautiful outside mindset.”

A Compassionate and Easy Way to Help Yourself

Going outside is the compassionate way to deal with loss and frustration. This is something I know from my personal life with systemic lupus. I always need a way to embrace how difficult this path can be.

We all have losses and stepping outside is one sure way to help us through these. Going outside has helped me over and over again. Once outside, I know what I need.

Open Your Heart to Yourself

Going outside is a way of being open-hearted to yourself. It will also help you to be open-hearted to others. You will know what to do. You will know what to say. Your stable sense of self will come back to you. You will trust yourself again.

Going outside is a way to lift your spirits without the pitfalls of medication. Going outside will give you a pause to figure out what is going on in your body, mind, and heart. You will be able to figure out what’s happening. You will be able to create a plan.

Be Curious About Yourself

Going outside is an act of self-awareness and self-compassion. It is like laying a hand over your heart in times of pain. It is noticing your body’s cues.

Be curious about yourself. Before you go outside, ask yourself: How am I feeling? Pretend you are your close friend. When you go outside, ask yourself: Where is my focus now?

These questions will help put you in the present.

Use Going Outside as a Tool to Feel Better Again

You don’t have to stay inside. Go outside with intention. Give yourself space. Give yourself attention. Change your brain chemistry. Use the outdoors to take away stress and help you to ease your emotions. Nourish your mind and body.

Start today. Very soon, going outside will take care of itself. You won’t have to wait for some future time to feel good outside. The comfort of the outdoors will be yours. You will be in charge of your emotions. Use the outdoors as your tool to feel better again. It’s easier than you think.

How much time do you spend outside on an average day? Do you feel too glued to indoor work or entertainment? Are you ready to invest a small amount of energy in getting outside more often? Do you know how you will get started? Please share in the comments below.

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The Author

Verla Fortier, a retired professor of nursing, manages her lupus erythematosus by living and playing outside in Pine Falls, Manitoba, Canada, on the edge of the boreal forest. For free evidence-based green space health tips visit her website

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