In difficult times, stress can get the better of us. It does odd things to our bodies — it causes headaches, fatigue, anxiety and digestive issues.
Stress symptoms can affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.
The rapidly changing world means lots more stress for a lot of people. The demands of life can take a toll on your health if you don’t deliberately take steps to constantly clear your head.
It turns out, there’s a unique term — uitwaaien, from the Dutch, that can help you cope better with stress, boost your mood and feel refreshed.
“Uitwaaien” (aut-vwl-en) means to go out in windy weather, particularly into nature or a park, as a means of refreshing oneself and clearing one’s mind.
Uitwaaien comes from the concept of replacing “bad air” with “good air.”
It’s the Dutch way of spending time in nature for the purpose of feeling invigorated while relieving stress and boosting one’s general health. In most cases, it happens by the sea because that’s where the wind blows the hardest.
It “literally translates to ‘outblowing,’” explains Caitlin Meyer, a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam’s Department of Dutch Linguistics.
“Uitwaaien is something you do to clear your mind and feel refreshed — out with the bad air, in with the good,” Caitlin tells Alice Fleerackers of Nautilus.
Uitwaaien also translates: “to walk in the wind” — the practice of giving yourself a break from the recurring, compounding stressors of life.
‘Uitwaaien’ describes the activity of going out for a walk. Often it’s associated with walking along our, usually quite windy, beaches. ‘Waaien’ means ‘the blowing of the wind’, writes Berend Harmsen, MSc (Drs) Biochemistry, University of Amsterdam. “So ‘uitwaaien’ is going out where the wind blows. That’s the literal part,” he says.
The name comes from the concept of replacing “bad air” with “good air.”
When you practice uitwaaien, you deliberately plan without real purpose to walk, run, jog or spend time in nature or at a place where the blows.
It can be surprisingly calming depending on the circumstances.
According to Jules Pretty, Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex, you can increase your well-being after spending as little as five minutes in natural settings, with positive impacts on sense of self-worth, mood, and sense of identity.
While exercising in a gym has its benefits, running outside in the wind can be refreshing and exhilarating.
Research shows that spending time in nature can boost your energy, immune system, enhance your creativity, sharpen our focus, and help you feel more relaxed.
Uitwaaien is an incredibly simple and useful practice you can easily adopt no matter your lifestyle. Early mornings or late evening are probably the best times to practice uitwaaien.
If your schedule is very tight, you can still make time during your lunch break to feel the wind for a few minutes.
Water, wind, sun and trees can do wonders for your mental well-being. “Water may have a restorative effect, helping people overcome negative emotions and diminish their mental distress,” writes Alice.
Plan to spend more time in nature to clear your mind. You can reduce stress in the process. Note some time for uitwaaien on your calendar.
Whether you choose to walk, jog, bike, or run in the wind, chances are, both your mind and body will benefit immensely from the practice.
This post was previously published on Personal Growth.
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