Now that the weather has (finally) improved — the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and the temperature is just right — it’s hard to fight the urge to go outside and stay outside. There’s something peaceful about being outside; even better: reading outside. Saarim Aslam, author of Making Sense of Anxiety and Stress, notes, “We currently live in a demanding world which creates a lot of mental exhaustion. Being outside gives our brains the ability to restore and rest, but it can also help reduce physiological arousal once we experience a bit of stress.”
No need to choose between your book and your backyard; you can enjoy the best of both worlds by reading outside. Here’s why it’s beneficial.
1. Natural light is easier on your eyes
2. It’s an instant stress buster
You’ve heard about how taking a walk can help turn off your overactive mind and allow you to decompress. The same can be said for reading al fresco. Aslam adds, "We can see that even a short exposure to nature results in both physiological and psychological benefits when it comes to stress. Studies show that even a short exposure to some form of nature such as trees, a forest area, or an outside space without large buildings can result in decreases in our stress hormone cortisol and an increase in our parasympathetic nervous system (which controls our ability to relax).”
Not only can spending time in nature improve concentration, but it can also boost our moods. Fresh air and a good book will allow you to disengage from the rest of the world and fully immerse yourself in your fictional world. “These outdoor, nature areas produce decreases in negative mood states, but increase our positive mood states, too. It only takes 10-15 minutes to start seeing these benefits,” says Aslam.
3. It heightens your senses
Working your way through a real page-turner? Don’t be surprised if you suddenly jump at the sound of a barking dog just when you discover who killed off the main character. Your eyes and ears may be more attuned to what’s going on around you when your perspective has shifted. And, yes, that iced coffee you’re sipping may taste better, too.
4. It enhances your reading experience
If your novel is set in a tropical paradise and you’re at the beach, you’ll be able to better relate to the storyline. On the flip side, if you are landlocked, a seaside read will instantly transport you to another destination, minus the sand in your shoes.