Why does fresh air make such a difference?

For the past few days, I’ve been feeling a bit shut-in and down-at-heel. But today all I did was throw open the windows and let the outside air (and noise) come in, and I feel much better.

I noticed the same thing in Baltimore. Whenever the windows were open, I felt way better. It’s possible that there are some confounding variables here. For instance, maybe I only open the windows when I’m already in a good mood. Or, since the windows are generally only openable when the weather is pretty good, maybe that’s the reason for the better mood and not the windows themselves, per se.

But I tend think there is something magical about the outside air. Can’t say what it is. Not exactly cold mountain air that we’re breathing: I’m inside a middle of a massive urban agglomeration that stretches more than twenty miles in every direction. And the sounds of the outdoors aren’t birds and the burbling of water: they’re the rush of cars and, sometimes, the sound of a train’s horn.

But I think the sounds are part of it, too. My current theory is that there’s something about the stimulus provided by an outside environment. When you’re inside, everything is too much under your control. There is no unexpected stimulus, and, as a result, the mind is unsettled and preys upon itself. But when you smell and hear unexpected things and feel slightly uncomfortable temperatures, the mind is more at ease.