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Walla Walla, WA
Friday, December 8, 2023

Sunshine, Stillness, and Sanity

November 16, 2023
Noah Brown

Linking Mental Health and the Outdoors

Noah Brown

A vital part of maintaining good mental health is spending time doing activities outdoors. 

As our lives shift more and more online, it becomes even more important to strengthen our connection with the outdoors. Matthew Bernard, a senior engineering major, said that being outside helps him reset mentally, and helps him to get rid of any feelings of grogginess or tiredness. He described how the outdoors gives him a sense of calmness, whether he’s hiking, rock climbing, or just going for a walk. [1]  

Spending time outside can be as simple as riding a bike, going on a hike, taking a walk, or playing a sport. In addition to relieving stress and anxiety, these activities are also helpful for physical health. This includes improving your sleep, raising your vitamin D level, and staying in better shape. [2] 

Bernard emphasized that a huge part of being outdoors is the community. It’s great to find a group of people who are there to be outside, have fun, and make genuine connections. A great resource for this is ASWWU Outdoors, which provides opportunities for trips, rentals for equipment, and a group of students eager to spend time outside. [3] 

Bernard tries to go out and do something outdoors at least once a week, just to stay in the habit. When asked what he would recommend for people who want to start spending more time outdoors, Bernard suggested the idea of a daily win. “Go for a walk, pick a distance or location, then complete it. It’s an easy win to accomplish without any equipment.” [4]  



  1. Interview with Matthew Bernard, 11/09/2023. 
  2. 3 ways getting outside into nature helps improve your health. (2023). UC Davis Health. 
  3. Interview with Matthew Bernard, 11/09/2023. 
  4. Ibid. 



  1. Mountain Biking. Photo by ASWWUPhoto, Photo Head Esteban Cordova. 


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