It’s certainly true that family gatherings can be more stressful than others. But in terms of where you can go to hang out with family and friends with minimal hassle, you should probably choose the outdoors.
According to a recent report published by Haaum, a smartphone app from Columbia University that helps you manage your wellness, compared to places inside people’s homes, out-of-doors outings might make people feel more relaxed, less stressed, more mellow, more productive, and more inclined to get happy for more of the day. In fact, one study showed that being outdoors might even help prevent health conditions like obesity and diabetes.
Dr. Cara Esparza, a radiology resident and the Haaum inventor, explained to The Times that the app helps users gauge how their day will go. But she said that it also gave her first-hand insight on how having outdoor family and friends at a gathering would make people feel, and how much of an impact it would have on their well-being.
She said that while information about what to do with your family and friends is already available on computers, it’s often difficult to find that same detailed information about out-of-doors outings that are available online for much more individualized help. “I’m a patient educator, and one of the challenges I often face is that patients who have health issues don’t always feel comfortable using the internet,” she said. “What is awesome about the smartphone app is that people don’t have to change their behavior as much and they can access the resources they need in real time.”
According to Dr. Esparza, the app can also help users set up the perfect get-together with strangers. “The app gives users a template for how to meet people, provide casual info for people, and then it can suggest a leisure activity that is fun,” she said. “For example, there’s a template for ice skating, and if you download that template you’ll get an ice skating venue, as well as detailed directions and information on whether it’s wheelchair accessible. So, if you download that template, you’ll be able to tell people you were ice skating, who doesn’t really care what time you go to the rink but you’re ice skating with a group of you.”
And she said that the app takes that notion even further. In some situations, Dr. Esparza said, going out of doors is a last resort: “If the weather is a big concern, for example, you can share the information on what it’s like outside, and that way you can know whether there is snow on the ground. If there’s snow on the ground, that’s better than a sunny Sunday, especially if you’re going to an outdoor place.”
Want to know what to do this Halloween, Thanksgiving or anytime? Check out Haaum’s checklist of ways to treat yourself this season.
Read the full story at The Times.
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