At this time of year, looking out at grey skies and freezing rain, it might be hard to imagine that getting outdoors will make us feel better. But, research has shown positive links between outdoor activity and mental health and shows it might be just what we need to beat the January blues.

Random Acts of Wildness

Research looking at the 30 Days Wild campaign, run by The Wildlife Trusts, showed the wellbeing benefits of getting out into nature. The campaign asked people to engage with nature every day for a month, suggesting a range of everyday activities that they could do, called 'Random Acts of Wildness'.

Running throughout June 2015, the campaign saw 12,400 online sign ups (18,500 taking part overall, resulting in an estimated 300,000 engagements with nature by participants). The campaign estimate 300,000 engagements with nature. 

Researchers from the University of Derby and the Public Interest Research Centre examined results from the campaign (1) and found that 'samples of those taking part were found to have sustained increases in happiness, health, connection to nature and pro-nature behaviours.'

We know that modern life has its challenges. With our phones pinging with notifications, we might feel the urge to just draw the curtains and curl up in front of Netflix (which is a legitimate way to relax too!). But chances are it's not going to improve our mental well-being. Pulling on our walking shoes for half an hour walking in a local park or woodland could, though. As the 30 Days Wild researchers discovered: "Connection to nature has a role in human health as it helps meet the challenges of stress as well as providing resilience."

So, with a new year and new beginnings, now's as good a time as any to set some goals - let's challenge ourselves to take a break from our screens and get into the great outdoors! 

3 things you can do to get outdoors: