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Time outside good for mental health
April 26, 2022

By Sara, Nora, and Emma, East Norriton Bulldog Bulletin | Studies show that being outside not only has a positive effect on your physical well-being, but also on your mental health. According to the University of Washington EarthLab, being in nature can help you inside and out. It can help with symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, and more.

Spending time outside can help with symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, and more. Illustration by Daniel

Several teachers we spoke with at East Norriton Middle School agreed. Mrs. Goff, a sixth-grade science and social studies teacher, said that she thinks outside breaks would have a positive effect for everyone.

Mr. Fonash, a seventh-grade science teacher, says that he finds time outside advantageous for everyone, including adults. “The break from routine to touch base with nature can definitely refresh our minds and feelings.”

Because being outside can change your mood, does the weather also affect your mood? According to psychiatry.org, the answer is yes. Studies show events such as extreme storms or extreme heat can lead to depression, anger, and even violence.

However, even smaller weather changes can affect moods, according to ENMS teachers. Mrs. Young, a fifth-grade reading teacher, said: “My spirits are lifted when it is sunny outside—everything is better! I feel like I am motivated and full of energy. However, when it is dark/cloudy/rainy, I am less motivated to work.”

“There is nothing better than the feel of the warm sun on your face and the stillness of the dark starry night sky. While I don’t love cloudy, rainy days, they are a necessary part of life,” said Mrs. Kile, a fifth-grade math teacher. “Having some of these ups and downs are what continues to give motivation.”

So do teachers think should students get outside breaks? When teachers were asked if they found a difference in student behavior when they are outside, many stated that kids become more awake and energetic when outside.

Ms. Devlin, an eighth-grade reading teacher, said: “I feel outside breaks are needed no matter what age. It certainly generates momentum to do things with purpose.” She said she often takes breaks outside with her students so they can read and write.

Some people may avoid going outside because it can be boring. But there are actually many activities you can do outside! Try biking, playing a sport or game, or going on a walk. Not all outside activities have to include exercise—you can also read, go on a picnic, or just relax!

Spending time outdoors has many benefits to impact mood. So if you are feeling down and the sun is out, try going outside. You might feel better!

— Sara, Nora, and Emma are in eighth grade. 

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