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The #OptOutside campaign was started by REI in 2015 when the store closed all locations on Black Friday and encouraged its employees to go outside instead. Employees now enjoy a paid day off to spend with their family outdoors.  In the years since, the movement has been adopted by many other companies and groups and continues to grow.

This year REI is closing all stores on Black Friday once again while also pledging $1 million to the University of Washington, where a center for academic excellence called Nature for Health will be established within the school’s EarthLab. The goal is to deepen the understanding of how time outside impacts our health.

Science Says Time Outside is Good For You

Notice the study is intended to deepen our understanding. The fact that time outside positively impacts our health has been established for some time.  The Japanese have been recommending forest bathing as an essential piece of well-being since 1982.

forest path through tall trees go outside challenge
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Time spent among the trees is never wasted.

Just a few benefits of spending time outside

A simple Google search will reveal pages upon pages dedicated to the benefits of nature.  I will highlight here some of the advantages listed on many websites.

  • Improved short-term memory – I don’t know about you but I definitely could use some help in this department!
  • Stress relief – I have been naturally drawn outside my whole life whenever I’m upset about something. A walk around the block always helps.
  • Reduced inflammation and improved immunity – Being outside increases your white blood cell count (good for fighting off illness) and can reduce internal inflammation which has become a common malady for many.
  • Better vision – research in this area is primarily geared towards children.  The increased time spent on electronics is bad for their eyes. Being outside and constantly changing focal distance is good for proper eye development.
  • Improved concentration – a walk outside can help you recover from mental fatigue and restore your ability to focus.
  • Sharper thinking and creativity – have a problem and need a solution?  Think it over while enjoying some time outside and the creativity will soon overflow.
  • Improved mental health – spending time outside reduces depression and anxiety and even just a bad mood
forest of trees with sun rays go outside rainbow challenge #optoutside
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Just looking at the trees in a picture calms me. Being outside is even better!

While the #OptOutside movement was initially conceived to counteract the commercialism and consumerism of Black Friday, it’s a movement that has grown and evolved to impact life on a daily basis. Time spent outside is essential to our general well-being. 

Happy people who spend time outside often can more easily spread kindness and happiness to the world around them.

Living in a concrete jungle?

Read this article about ways to find nature even in the city. Time outside is good, no matter where that might be.

text:go outside every day even if it's raining and picture of rainbow umbrella and rain
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Just do it. Outside. Every day.

Ready to improve your own health and mental well-being?

Click on the banner below to sign up for an easy one-week challenge (it has rainbows!) to spend more time outside.  If looking at pictures of nature can make you feel better, just imagine how much happier you will be after you sign up and step outside for a few minutes!

go outside #optoutside rainbow challenge
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Other Resources For Go Outside Inspiration

My challenge above is easy and awesome but there are lots of other resources too. Here are just a couple…

1000 Hours Outside

I recently discovered the 1000 Hours Outside account and it is so encouraging, especially if you still have kids at home.

Take Them Outside

Another account I have been following is Take Them Outside. Jenn has fun printable resources with activities and scavenger hunts to do with the kids outside. She also has lots of tips and activities on her blog.

Play Outside Printables
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(affiliate link)

Nature Activity Pack

title graphic with text Want to be happier? Go outside Challenge, 5 minutes a day for 7 days
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Sharing is caring! Please save to your Pinterest boards to help spread the word.
Websites visited:

2017 interview with REI’s Chief Creative Officer

2018 interview with REI

Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing)

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