Everyone experiences above average stress levels from time to time, but students struggle with this problem far more frequently than the rest of the population. The constant stream of homework and exams, the never ending social cycle, the worries for the future – it all leads to a person feeling the full and constant weight of the world, and justifiably so. But spending time outside is all it takes to greatly reduce the amount of stress that you feel.

Whether you engage in team sports, take a hike through your favorite park, or read a book on the lawn, you are reaping the benefits of natures’ anti-depressant – the sun. The vitamin-d the sun so freely and generously beams down to you serves an essential function in a variety of biological processes. It heightens and stimulates the immune system, increases muscle function and formation, and improves a persons’ overall mood.

College students often struggle when confronted with a rare bit of free time. A few extra hours lounging in bed always sounds tempting, or maybe a movie and video game marathon to seriously escape reality. But health professionals all agree, the positive effects that result from spending your free time outside enjoying nature are infinite. And there is no group of people more desperately in need of these benefits than students. The mental health statistics for the university population are not only alarming, but abysmal in comparison to the rest of the world.

Since students don’t get a mental health day, they need to allocate time for outdoor activities. Exercise is a critical aspect of general welfare, not just in terms of your physical health, but also your state of mind. The symptoms of anxiety and depression can be dramatically reduced with exercise. Too much time indoors can leave you feeling closed in and stressed out, whereas time spent in wide open green spaces can help regulate the amount of stress causing hormones in your system.

There is absolutely no reason on earth not to spend a few minutes outside every day. Students might be able to come up with amazing excuses for not doing their homework, but there is no excuse to ignore your mental health. So tomorrow, make sure to literally stop and smell the roses, your brain will greatly appreciate it.

Originally published at garyvanzinderen.com