Did you know that spending time outside is one of the most reliable ways to improve your mood? In fact, just looking at photos of nature can give you the same happy boost.
When it comes to the outdoors, there’s something inherently healing about it. As humans we’re connected to nature in such profound ways that it’s hard even to explain it to ourselves. And while we may not be able to fully explain it, we can certainly take advantage of it.
Whether it’s literally helping you boost those all-important Vitamin D levels, or helping you find existential harmony, these are some ways that you can turn your outdoor space into the healing, restorative, invigorating environment it was meant to be.
Get Your Sun
Speaking of Vitamin D, did you know that at least _half_ of the world’s population suffers from a deficiency? In fact, this deficiency has been referred to as a hypovitaminosis pandemic. If that word doesn’t scare you, nothing will!
Vitamin D is essential for health and protection against disease. It plays a role in protecting against ailments as diverse as cancer, heart disease, flu, diabetes, fractures and depression.
And the number one reason for our deficiency? Lack of time spent outdoors.
Fortunately, that makes managing your Vitamin D intake a lot easier than dealing with the other pandemic we’re all facing right now. It starts with making sure you get enough sun.
Sure, you can get outside for a stroll or a game of tennis, but if you want to take your vitamins with a good old fashioned dose of happiness, then build yourself a sunny spot right in your own yard. That can include a great hardscape, like a patio, accompanied by a comfortable seating area where you can lounge with a beverage and a good book.
It can be a lovely bench beside a koi pond where you can relax and find your Zen place.
It can be a garden swing, a vegetable garden, a fire pit, wading pond or swimming pool. Any landscape element in a sunny spot that provides you with a source of comfort, relaxation and enjoyment will inspire you to get outdoors and beat the vitamin blues.
You don’t need a green thumb to enjoy growing a few vegetables and herbs. You don’t even need to get on your knees in the dirt to pull weeds and separate pea plants! There are lots of simple, beautiful – and healthy – ways to bring some edible nature into your life.
If you enjoy gardening, then go full tilt – tomatoes, pumpkins, potatoes and beans. From delicate leafy greens in early spring to late-autumn and winter kale and cabbage, there’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy.
Not a fan of getting your hands dirty? Keep it simple with raised beds or container gardens. Raised beds mean you’ll never have to stoop or kneel to work with your garden, which is great news for aching bones. And planting in pots will also make it easy to bring plants indoors if the weather isn’t cooperating, and even extend the life of your herb garden.
Not only are edible plants like vegetables and herbs full of nutrients that you need for mental and physical health, but the simple act of getting outdoors to tend them will give your mood a substantial boost.
Add A Shed
No, not so that you can lock the door and hide where nobody will find you! This one is wholly practical. You need a shed so that you can get rid of the clutter and distractions that keep you from fully enjoying your time outdoors.
Let’s face it – nobody wants to look at a bunch of lawn tools or dirty coils of garden hose. It’s not very relaxing to sit on your patio when you’re too focused on the toys and empty propane tanks to enjoy the butterflies, birds and blooms.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, but why not go ahead and make it attractive? Choose a color that looks lovely in your garden and a style that complements your home. Add an inviting natural stone path to the door. Plant plenty of colorful flowers and tall grasses so the shed doesn’t tower over your delicate peonies, throw all the clutter and junk inside, then lock the door!
Sure, go ahead and organize it, but don’t let that get in the way of your outdoor time. Without a bunch of clutter in your space, you can reduce the clutter in your mind. Take in the breeze, the sound of the waterfall, the beauty of the gardens, and all the peace they bring.
Few things are as close to guaranteeing happiness as the sight and sound of water. The science is in – being around water can reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, alleviate depression, even improve symptoms of other ailments like Alzheimer’s.
Science aside, listening to the gentle babbling of a stream or the susurrations of a waterfall just feels peaceful. Watching playful koi or gazing at the ripples on a pond can’t help but relax you.
Whether you have a tiny space or a sprawling yard, there are creative ways to add water so you can enjoy all of its soothing benefits. Bubbling stone columns can add grace and height to the tiniest yard. Pondless waterfalls give you sight, sound and motion in a compact space. A pond or stream adds myriad opportunities for enjoying fish, frogs and other wildlife to boot.
Water features come in so many sizes, shapes and configurations that it would be a shame not to add one (or more!) to your space. They’re low-maintenance and can even add other benefits, like masking unwanted, less-than-relaxing sounds.
Best yet, you can enjoy their benefits all year long. Long after the lettuce has wilted and the sun has sunk behind stormy winter clouds, your pond, waterfall, bubbler or other water feature can continue to offer enjoyment and serenity.
The koi may be sleeping but you can continue to enjoy the beauty of your pond, and you can even keep waterfalls running all winter. No need to fear ice, a frozen waterfall is a magnificent sight to behold! Frozen bubblers are also magical winter gems.
Frozen or not, water is a true four-season win. It can be your quiet place during warm months, a spot to sit and gather your thoughts or enjoy the sun on your skin. It can be part of a favorite hobby whether feeding koi out of your hand, watching butterflies stop for a drink, or tending nearby plantings. And it can add much-needed nourishment for your spirit during long winter months.
Color Yourself Happy
We probably don’t need to tell you that color has a profound effect on your mood. Depending on the mood you want to achieve, it pays to choose colors accordingly. Color can cheer you up, or bring you down. Calm you or excite you. Evoke feelings of well-being and harmony, or create discord and chaos.
Choosing the right colors for your landscape is really about choosing what feels right for you. Reds and purples are stimulating and can boost energy. Green and yellow are the quintessential happy colors, evoking feelings of joy and well-being. Blues, white and cream colors are soothing and calming.
The best outdoor spaces incorporate color to create different effects. You may want energizing colors surrounding a pool area, for example, and more soothing ones to adorn a cozy seating nook. Use color to create spaces within spaces, each appealing to a specific mood.
Do be careful of overdoing it. Too many colors together can actually create a sense of disharmony. When combining colors, it’s important to be modest and to choose colors that play nicely together.
The outdoors is one of your most powerful and reliable allies when it comes to boosting mood and increasing happiness. But the quality of your outdoor space matters. A busy, urban environment full of honking cars and exhaust fumes isn’t going to have the same effect as a beautiful wildflower garden. Likewise, a dull, uninspiring or messy yard isn’t going to have the same effect as a landscape full of luscious sights, smells and sounds.
If you want an inspiring outdoor space that will bring you peace, happiness and enjoyment all year long, contact us for a consultation. We’re here to listen to your dreams and help make them come true.