Getting outdoors can help your mental health and boost your work stamina.

Today, the importance of mental health is being discussed everywhere. We’ve seen top athletes back away from big sporting events to take care of their mental health. It’s being discussed on talk shows. We hear about it in reference to school-age children. Unsurprisingly, we hear about it in the workplace, too.

Like most professionals, my day-to-day life can be stressful. I go from meeting to meeting…client to client…and spend a lot of time working through problems to help my clients succeed. At times, it feels overwhelming.

It’s during these times the importance of mental health comes to the forefront of my mind. It not just small kids, big-time athletes and other celebrities who need to take care of their mental health. It’s all of us…including us corporate types.

There are a lot of ways to maintain your mental health and they vary considerably.

Many people seek professional counseling and medication. Some find that changing their diet or getting more sleep has a big impact. Many simply need someone trusted to talk to. Others practice mindfulness.

Many researchers are talking more and more about the benefits of spending time in nature. They find that immersion in nature can benefit both our mental and physical well-being.

I completely agree with them. For years, I’ve been setting aside time to be outdoors. I hike, I bike, I kayak… Just about any outdoor activity you can imagine, I do it.

Dr. John Graves and his dog, Jax, on a hike and enjoying the great outdoors.

Most of my time is spent trail running. I’ve run lots of different distances: everything from 5Ks to ultra-marathons. My most common/frequent/favorite distance is the half-marathon. I recently completed my 88th half-marathon race.

Most of these races are on trails. There’s something about being out in nature (on dirt, in the hills, scaling mountains, in the woods, plowing through sands, etc.) that helps me to be more resilient.

Being mentally strong helps me adapt to change and cope with adversity.

The stresses I feel from work are similar to those I feel in trail running. Exposing myself to the stress of a trail run and learning how to manage through it helps me in other aspects of my life, including life back in the office.

Being in nature and running trails is my thing. Find your thing…and leave some white space in your calendar to actually do it. Mental health is something we should all work on.