When the rainy season arrives in the Pacific Northwest, many of us prefer to stay inside with a cup of hot tea and a good book rather than get outside during these drizzly days. While relaxing at home during a downpour can have a positive effect on your stress, there are also several ways that a walk in the rain can reduce your stress level.
Here are 6 stress reduction benefits from walking in the rain:
Walking on a rainy day helps you relax because it is less crowded. Since most people are inside, taking a stroll in the rain can offer you some solitude, the quiet to clear your head, relieve your stress and perhaps get a shift in perspective.
The smell of rain refreshes your mind. That distinct scent in the air during rainfall is called Petrichor, which was coined by two Australian scientists in the 1960s. The scent, according to Live Science, is a mixture of chemicals released by soil-dwelling bacteria, oils released from plants during dry spells and ozone that is created when lightning splits oxygen and nitrogen molecules that then turn into nitric oxide. The ‘petrichor effect’ soothes your mind and regulates brain chemicals that affect mood.
The sound of the rain is very soothing. The sound of rain is considered white noise. There are many popular apps that include rainfall as a relaxing and calming meditation. Who needs to use an app when you can go outside and hear the sound in real time?
Rainy walks help with acceptance. Often taking a walk in the rain can make a person feel powerless. But taking rainy day walks on a regular basis helps train your mind to give up control and go about life, no matter what the weather — or anything else — throws your way. In addition, the temporary nature of the rain can help some deal with personal loss. Just like with a rain shower, everything has its moment and will eventually pass.
Walking in the rain can bring out our sense of play. Who doesn’t have some sense of delight when splashing through or jumping in a puddle? There is something very satisfying about doing this playful and somewhat rebellious act. (Especially if you have waterproof shoes on.) Tapping into our playful nature has been shown to naturally reduce our stress level.
Warming up after a walk in the rain will most likely make you smile. When you know you have a hot cup of soup or coffee waiting for you at your favorite café or that hot shower at home once you walk in the door, the anticipation of a positive event can often bolster our mood and help us endure stress.
Perhaps after reading this list, you’re looking differently at a walk in the rain?
As Director of Programs, Elizabeth Nelson brings her B.S. in Public Health, her extensive work with trauma survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, and her own experiences of the positive connection and health benefits of time spent in nature into the Parkscriptions program at Recreation Northwest. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder. She has a broad range of experience running her own business and working in nonprofit and government organizations.