I don’t know about where you live, but I feel like the Pacific Northwest had to be dragged kicking and screaming into nice weather this year. But it finally arrived! Spring showers are coming to a close and Summer is (just about) here. In the Great PNW, Spring and Summer are really something to be celebrated. We spend six months under a ceaseless skyscape of rainthick clouds, so when the flowers start to bloom…and then fruit…when the sun shines and the sky blushes blue, it’s time to go outside and soak it up.
But even if you live somewhere that gets year round sunshine, Summer is a great time to bond with your kiddos. School’s out. Kids come home, and the great outdoors are calling. Of course, there is always the temptation of screens, and I’m not saying never use them. This blog wouldn’t exist without a screen! Screens have their uses, but too much time in front of one, and too little time moving around outdoors can actually increase anxiety and depression, even if staying in with a movie feels like the best antidote to social anxiety or some other type of episode.
Now, I’m not trying to suggest that mental illness can be cured through exercise and sunshine. I sure wish a good run in the sun could erase my PTSD; unfortunately mental illness involves neurological changes which take a lot of intentional work to manage, including physical, mental, and emotional.
That being said, studies confirm what I have personally experienced: even 10-15 minutes of exercise each day can help balance neurochemistry by promoting the production of endorphins and serotonin. Sunshine is also loaded with Vitamin D, and helps to reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. So, while your mental illness can’t be cured by a walk in the sun, that walk can, in fact, ameliorate some of your symptoms.
Joe from Nature Rated was kind enough to write a post for Betty’s Battleground about the benefits of exercise and outdoor play, along with an infographic detailing some outdoor activities to do with your kiddos. A couple of these activities require the privilege of a home with a backyard; something I, and many parents with mental illnesses don’t have; most of them, however, can be executed or adapted to fit anyone on even the tightest budgets. So I’m really excited to share this guest post with you, while I wrap up my daughter’s birthday celebrations and get back to “real life” (and blog posts written by moi). I hope you and your family enjoy these activities!