At the risk of sounding like an internet troll living in their mom’s basement, go touch grass. Seriously, that’s the argument. Literally, go touch some grass.
Okay, okay, I’m kidding. Well, kind of. Really, what I mean is that everyone should spend more time outside. Get outside. I can’t say it enough – get outside! Get outside! Get outside! There are innumerable benefits to spending time in nature; the world could use a reminder of that. If it isn’t already, spending time outside should be a priority in our lives.
I like to think I live a pretty average college life. I’m busy. Everyone’s busy. I don’t always know what’s going on, and I can’t name another college student who has everything figured out. But I prioritize spending time outside as often as possible. And in my average college life, this can truly be as simple as walking to class if the weather is nice, rather than driving or taking the bus. Or, instead of going to the Student Recreation Center that day, I’ll choose to go for a quick jog outside (Treadmill? More like the DREADmill. Haha. No seriously. Go outside!). Or, even better, I’ll drag a friend through campus on a lovely afternoon walk. Like a postal carrier, neither snow, nor rain, nor heat nor gloom of night can keep me from getting outdoors.
My best example as of late happened just yesterday – shocker, I know. Inside Maddie’s Mind rings true once again as a column built off my most pervasive and recent thoughts. One of my roommates is taking a creative writing class this semester, for which she had to go on a walk and gather an “interesting item from nature” for her next class meeting. I ended up joining her on this journey, mainly as a way to meet my personal goal for this semester of getting more fresh air, and I lowkey had the time of my life. Yes, I’ve got to get out more, but hear me out.
I didn’t have to go on this walk. I didn’t have a homework grade riding on my ability to bring something natural and interesting to class. However, I can honestly say I was beaming the entire time we were outside. In just 45 minutes, I picked up a pinecone, a baby pinecone, a few rocks, one multi-colored leaf and a piece of straw that could have been perfect for a cowboy to chew on while riding a horse into the sunset. I’m sure I made my hunter-gatherer ancestors proud with this nature haul, but that’s not why I’m so pro-outside time.
My roommate and I got back to our room and I noticed a nearly-tangible improvement in my mood – and we’re talking about what was originally a Monday, terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day kind of mood. Before going on the walk, I was the physical embodiment of stress. I was worried about everything, ranging from the amount of homework I have to do this week to my chances of success in my future career path. But when we got home, I was calm – a novel but welcome change for me.
It’s not just me saying this, though I like to think of myself as an anecdotally-credible source. We’ve likely all heard of the benefits of spending time outdoors. Even still, a simple google search validates my experiences and claims regarding the healing nature of fresh air.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists physical wellness, mental wellness and wellness in the community as benefits of the great outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stresses the improvements outside time can have on one’s overall health and wellness, including the many opportunities to be physically active that the great outdoors provides. Further, the sheer benefit of getting outside, specifically in the winter, is well-documented.
So that’s the take. Even if you only have 20 free minutes in a day, get outside. Think of yourself as a houseplant. Houseplant Maddie needs water and nutrients of course, but she also needs sunlight. You probably do too.
Of course, there is always another assignment you could do, and it’s certainly warmer at this time of year wrapped up in blankets in your bed rather than out and about in the winter weather. But prioritizing going outside every day is hugely beneficial to a college lifestyle. To avoid the all-too-easy routine of sitting inside each day, staring into the soul-sucking blue light of your laptop or phone screen, mindlessly scrolling – go outside! Even if you are swamped with classwork, it’s almost impossible to properly express the benefits of taking a break to get some fresh air.
In conclusion, I know I’m not breaking the mold with this column. Everyone knows going outside is good for you. But something this important and this beneficial is worth repeating. So, I’ll say it again. Spending time outdoors should be a priority in your life. Go touch grass.