How to Start Beating the Blues in Five Minutes


How to Start Beating the Blues in Five MinutesWhen my daughter was a baby, I used to cry at the top of the stairs when I said goodbye to my husband. I couldn’t believe that he got to put on a spit-up free uniform and go to work where there would be no crying baby. How I longed to escape! We were new to post so I didn’t have any friends yet and my parents lived nine hours north, which is actually pretty close by military life standards, but I couldn’t just call them to come give me a little break. To cope, I had to make my own break.

Her fussiest time was at 3 p.m., so I started putting her in the sling and going outside for a walk at that time. She would cry for 10 or 15 minutes and then mercifully go to sleep. I would walk for 45 more minutes, enjoying the peace and fresh air. Sometimes I would be crying when I left the house, but I always felt better when we got back. She would continue sleeping when we got home and I could focus on making dinner, sometimes with her still in the sling. I didn’t know it, but I was onto something.

According to SparkPeople, getting outside is really good for you and there are studies to prove it. Five years after my daughter was born, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health confirmed what I already found to be true for myself: people who lived within one kilometer of a park or wooded area experienced less anxiety and depression than those who lived farther away from green space.

Also mentioned in that SparkPeople article, the Environmental Science & Technology journal found, “as little as five minutes exercising in a park, working in a backyard garden, hiking on a nature trail, or even sitting in a plant-filled setting will benefit your mental health.” Five minutes!

So, you don’t even have to gear up for a five-mile run to get the benefits. You could simply walk the dog around the block, chase your kids around the park, or leave your desk for a fresh air break.

The 2008 Scottish Health Survey found that exercising outdoors was 50% more beneficial to mental health than exercising in a gym. Woodland and forest are particularly effective at producing positive benefits.

Military families have free access to gyms, which saves us a ton of money, but by taking our workouts outside, we can reap the physical and the mental benefits. And, if cold winter weather is not calling your name, you could manage just five minutes at a time if it’s going to make you feel better, right?

What could you do to add a little more outdoor time into your day?