After a long week, chock-full of the stress that comes with everyday life, the popular ritual is to pour yourself a tall glass of Netflix and start mindlessly scrolling through Facebook as a means to unwind.

The thing is, while binging TV shows is a good way to kill time, it’s not necessarily a great way to spend it. Comparatively, recent studies over the past few years show that being outdoors makes us happier, healthier and more social. Here are some hows and whys:

 

NATURE REDUCES YOUR STRESS LEVELS

A post shared by Diane Cotton (@mirrindel) on

The Japanese call it forest bathing, Instagram calls it #exploremore; regardless, getting out and amongst it in nature has been proven to de-stress humans. In 2010 a study of ~300 people found that your cortisol (aka the stress hormone) levels lowered much more after a stroll through a forest than they did on a city block.

Personally, I felt a hell of a lot less stressed watching the sunrise in Kanangra-Boyd National Park one morning than I did after binge-watching the latest season of Black Mirror. Terrific show, but like with anything else that is good, moderation is key.

 

EXPLORING THE OUTDOORS LENGTHENS YOUR LIFE

A post shared by Jason Waddell (@jason_waddell) on

If you are outdoors, chances are you’re doing some kind of exercise. Doesn’t need to be vigorous paddling along Port Hacking in a kayak, or mountain biking a trail up in the Blue Mountains ; even a short hike on the weekend helps keep your joints loose and your heart happy. Even a little exercise is 100% better for your health than spending all day working on your butt-groove on the couch.

 

SLEEP EASY POST-HIKE

Camping at The Basin

The Basin CampgroundKu-ring-gai Chase National Park

Tim Clark / OEH

Good news: a hike – even a short one – can remedy the effects of insomnia. So you can go for a leisurely hike and get a cracking night’s sleep (all things being equal), without feeling guilty for not sprinting around your street!

Did you know? It is best to avoid screens directly before bed too; our bodies naturally produce melatonin when it gets dark; which it doesn’t do too well with when you’re fixated on a bright light for hours beforehand. So post your insta photos before it gets dark!

 

CREATE SOME MEMORABLE STORIES

No one remembers all the weekends they spent bumming around the house watching TV shows when they’re old.

Plus whenever you’re meeting new people, and they ask you what you like doing in your spare time; are you seriously going to tell them you like your cat and watching Netflix?  As the first thing you can think of as a hobby? Storytelling is an art, and if your best are from the couch you’re not going to have much to work with.

Finally watching Netflix is not a hobby, when you reminisce you’re not going to think “Damn, I wish I watched more movies or TV”. Life’s too short to be indoors, so grab your camping gear and book yourself a place in a NSW national park. Get out there, into nature and create some life long memories.