By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The inside of stores wasn’t the only place to find people on Black Friday. Many people chose to #OptOutside, but it’s more than a hashtag. The idea has significant mental health benefits.

At Discovery Park, the sounds of the river were calming for the Grewal family. Kamal Grewal chose to cash in on nature instead of spending money at stores on the biggest shopping day of the year.

“Everyone’s out shopping or staying inside, but because it’s so beautiful, I didn’t want to waste the day,” Grewal said.

On Friday afternoon, her family nearly had the beach to themselves at Discovery Park. She said shopping in person on Black Friday isn’t her family’s thing. She prefers online sales.

But this year, to her mother Majeed, it’s even more important they didn’t take part.

“We don’t want to get sick, you know?” Grewal said.

Across the region – many others opted outside, too. The trend turned movement is now several years strong and pushed by national and state parks across America.

It’s one the Grewal family supports.

“It’s very therapeutic,” Kamal said. “It’s beautiful.”

It can be therapeutic for many.

Dr. Diane Powell, a psychologist, said there are many great mental health benefits that come from spending time outside. Things like cutting down on stress and boosting creativity are among them. Even a little can go a long way.

“Just 20-30 minutes walking outdoors will significantly decrease your cortisol levels – your experience of stress will be substantially reduced,” Dr. Powell said.

Especially, she said, during this global pandemic – when utilizing nature is about all a person can safely do.

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For the Grewals, they’re happy to be healthy and family memories like the ones made on Friday can’t be bought.

“It’s just amazing you can take the day to rewind and relax, not getting out and pushed around – waiting in line,” Kamal said.

The #OptOutside trend started in 2015 when outdoor recreation store, REI, chose to close their stores for Black Friday – instead, encouraging everyone to grab their hiking boots and hit the trails, rather than grabbing their wallets.

Heather Janssen