Breathe – How Getting Outdoors Can Make You Feel

Nature facilitates a cleansing of the mind. It purges stress and invites a return to a more serene and simple state of being. Numerous environmental psychology journal articles cite the benefits of the natural environment on mental well-being. Nature is abundant with wonderous ephemeral experiences: the fleeting, momentary gaze upon a fluctuating sunset; the waterline of a pond, still and untouched, being disturbed, rippling out towards a shoreline, breaking gently over rocks which glitter in an evening sun. Nature excites the senses: the smell of parched grass and earth receiving the first water droplets of a summer deluge; the serene silence of a rural evening, punctuated with the sharp call of an unidentified bird; the cold clasp of crisp winter morning air gripping at the throat and lungs.


Green is a colour which brings humans back to their roots. Workers have been proven to be more productive in offices with greenery, patients can even recover from illness quicker when exposed to natural views, and prisoners can have improved social tendencies when exposed to natural settings. Nature is always full of variety and mystery. Spring brings with it flowers, colours, and transforms a barren, one dimensional landscape into a burst of frenzied activity. Winter brings with it death and destruction, but an appreciation of light and heat.



Those living their lives buried in the metropolis miss so much of this precious commodity. Modernist architecture does not cater to the human condition. It saps what is important, and replaces it with what is simple, easy, and practical. Nature lets me breathe. Cities constrain me, like a straight-jacket. Too many people, too many straight lines. Too many fumes, too much litter, too many stresses, physical or otherwise. Too many commodities I have no need for. In this country, the urban winter is a ghastly time. The average December in South East England has as little as 20% sunshine hours, in comparison to Madrid, with as much as 50% sunshine hours, a mere 2 hour flight away. I treasure the summer and what it brings for the environment. I treasure those summer evenings, sitting in the dry grass basking in the rays of the dying sun. I am only able to breathe in the countryside. If you read this, I’d love to know where you’re able to breathe.

Night Falls


7 responses to “Breathe – How Getting Outdoors Can Make You Feel

  1. I feel most at home, most able to breathe freely on all levels of my being, when I walk upon the South Downs. From there I can walk upon the barrows of our ancestral dead and feel them still alive, still part of the living presence of the downland landscape presenting itself before me. I can also see in all directions: the wide open spaces of the English Channel and the plains and hills of the High and Low Weald, as well as the gentle, subtle ridges and combes of the Downs itself. Urban civilisation is far away then, and I feel that my head is literally in the clouds, on top of the world.

    • Hi Andy,

      Thanks for sharing, you paint a wonderful picture of the South Downs. The South Downs is actually an area I keep planning to go to, but things get in the way. I want to cycle along the South coast this summer. I can’t wait to experience that freshness which accompanies the seafront.

      • oh, you must go to the South Downs! I live near Eastbourne, and you can have a lovely cycle all along Eastbourne sea front, up to the Holywell Tea Garden, and then cycle up the beginning of the South Downs itself and on up to Beachy Head and beyond. You’ll get all the fresh sea air you could wish for!

  2. If you moved to Madrid and always had 50% sunshine in summer, would you appreciate the sun, or adopt to sleeping through the midday hours? Would you still be a cynic if the weather and your environment cheered you up? {I’m just thinking aloud}
    Someone once said to me ‘English love to be unhappy, they love the underdog’.
    I’m still working out whether there is enough beauty in this land of meteorological disparity to warrant staying, or whether to move abroad.
    To answer your question, I feel I’m breathing most around people. Be they friends, family, lovers; the interaction is what makes me feel most alive, wherever I am. Being alone I feel trapped, but when trapped I am able to express myself. Still gotta work that one out too!
    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Hi Josh,

      Well firstly, confusing cynicism with melancholia is a common misconception. Cynicism is having a critical approach to humanity, social norms and institutions, with a sense of distrust and scepticism. It merely requires a sense of realism. It is not fatalistic or nihilistic. It does not require a depressive personality. That being said, the weather and the environment does not impact my critical nature of the world.

      Someone once said to you that the ‘English love to be unhappy’. Well, being a cynic, I would definitely not class myself in any way to be similar to the vast majority of any population. We are all individuals. I do not believe that the English are secret masochists, revelling in unhappiness. Simply, the English are located on a small, rainy island and packed into crowded, congested, post-industrial cities of frankly revolting architecture and design (which is as a result of poor decisions and economic change). I think if the weather improved and cities improved, the English might be happier, though I still would not like to lump the English as a unified population.

      I doubt I would sleep during the day if I lived in Spain, simply because I have an appreciation of heat and sunshine, living in the place that I do.

      I share your confusion about whether I wish to stay in the UK or not because of the weather.

      Your answer intrigues me: you are able to express yourself while being alone and trapped, yet feel able to breathe around people!

      Thanks for reading.

      Okay, this formal writing is getting a little strange, since you’re my friend in real life, so I’m going to stop this now…

  3. An interesting post! Being a country girl through and through I find brief visits to big cities quite exciting but it’s only in the rural environment that I’m comfortable. However, having grown up in rural South Africa (now in England) it’s only in wild expanses that I feel free. Much as I love spring and summer there’s nothing quite like the beauty of a proper winter, thick with snow and hoar frost 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s