Following our recent event collaboration Kate of Cornish Explorers discusses the benefits of socialising outdoors! Want to know how it can improve your mental health? And how it provides a great way to make friends in Cornwall? This is the blog for you!
‘Girls in Cornwall’ has one main goal. To curate experiences and events where women across the Duchy can make new connections with each other. Recently, Sophie (organiser of Girls in Cornwall) and I put our heads together to do just that, with a circular guided walk and sea dip.
Fully booked, 18 ladies braved the rain and mizzle as we explored the woodland paths of Tehidy and Idless, plunged in Portreath’s largest natural pool and scaled the expansive north cliffs of Cornwall. It was a hike to remember. The group united with the awe and love of nature, laughter and the added challenge of rain.
I am a huge advocate for meeting up, making friends and new connections in the outdoors. It has a range of benefits for us and is a great way to strengthen bonds of both friendship and with nature herself. Focusing on the mental effects, here are some reasons to arrange a meet up at your local beach, woodland or coast path.
So what is great about planning to meet outside with a friend for a walk, hike and/or a swim?
EXERCISE - Getting those steps in.
It’s good for your brain! Walking gives you a natural boost in mental alertness, energy and positive mood - even a short 10 min burst can make a difference. Walking is often overlooked, but is a great form of cardiovascular exercise that releases those happy endorphins. Who doesn’t want to be in a good mood when making friends and strengthening bonds?
Furthermore, the rhythmic movement of walking and its momentum of moving through changing scenes helps you think clearly, see things in a different light and come up with new ideas and solutions - the term ‘walking to clear my head’ is rooted in neuroscience! I find it very therapeutic walking and talking with friends on the coast path about a range of topics, and generally discussing life. Getting that fresh air and moving is important, as is being mindful and inspired by the natural spaces you walk through.
NATURE CONNECTEDNESS - The relationship you have with the outside world.
Want to meet someone who gets as excited about tree bark as you do? Everyone has a relationship to nature. It is advocated that feeling a close relationship or an emotional attachment to nature has a beneficial impact on our wellbeing. Researchers use the term “connectedness” to describe it. Walking and dipping are activities that involve experiencing and connecting to our natural world through touch, smell, sight, sound and taste (e.g. sea spray).
Encounters with nature can evoke joy, appreciation, curiosity, awe, thrill, calmness, even in some cases sadness. I often share these emotions with the people I’m walking with and it starts great conversations - even ‘these flowers are beautiful’ can lead to learning new things about each other. This is your ‘Nature Connectedness’. Another great related concept is Blue Mind Theory.
BLUE MIND THEORY - An excuse to swim everyday.
Our minds love water. It's like the rivers, the ocean, streams and lakes cast a spell and we fall into a mildly meditative state when near, in, on or under water. Neurologically speaking, water has the effect of increasing dopamine (feel good hormone), serotonin (happiness hormone) and oxytocin (cuddle hormone); it also decreases cortisol (stress hormone) enabling mental and physical relaxation. On top of the brain science, people have long advocated ‘blue mind’ and shared their stories of feeling calm, creative and at peace when near the ocean or water.
Sounds like the perfect environment to make new friends! As an adult, making friends can make you feel a bundle of nerves and even anxious, we’ve all felt it. For me, knowing that being outside in a neutral and natural space can have a positive impact on my immediate wellbeing and mood makes it a little easier.
Sophie has a range of events that include connecting with others in the outdoors which you can check out here. At Cornish Explorer we have an expanding range of downloadable circular walks and dips in Cornwall for your next meet-up, take a look here. The next collaboration event between Girls in Cornwall and Cornish Explorer is on the horizon - we hope to see you there! In the meantime, arrange a friend date going on a walk and/or dip in Cornwall. You now know it will work wonders for your mental wellbeing.