Nature Walks Help to Improve the Mental Health of Teenagers

in Health & Well-being

The rising number of teenagers with depression has to be a concern for parents. Worse still, the number of young adults committing suicide is at an all-time high. Some people may point to the global pandemic and say lockdown is to blame. Statistics show American teenagers were suffering from psychological distress long before COVID-19.

There are a number of contributing factors. Some commentators point the finger directly and social media and cyberbullying. Medical professionals list a number of other causes such as genetics, emotional trauma and environment. Bizarrely, it seems that very few people in the medical profession attribute depression to a poor diet and lack of exercise. Yet it’s well established that healthy eating and exercise improve your mood.

If your children are showing signs of depression, stop feeding them processed foods. What’s more, encourage them to exercise more. A convenient way to do that is to explore nature.

Healing Qualities of Nature

Nature walks have been found to provide a host of health benefits. Scientists are not how nature has such transformational effects but numerous studies have all returned positive results. A study published in Nature showed that walking in nature for as little as two hours a week can have a positive effect on a person’s wellbeing. Connecting with nature reduces stress and promotes calmness.

Health statistics show that outdoor pursuits not only improve physical fitness, they also raise vitamin D levels which help with brain function. Nature walks have also been shown to help children with symptoms of ADHD.

Walking also has a major role to play. Exercise helps to boost energy levels and releases endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that gives you the ‘feel-good factor. Numerous studies have also shown that walking for 30-minutes, five a day improves mental and physical health. Getting more oxygen into your lungs improves cognitive function.

Encouraging Teenagers to Take a Walk

It’s a sign of modern times that teenagers spend much of their time indoors. Captivating computer games, the internet, and TV series makes them addicted to the screen. Even when among friends, you find most teenagers staring into their mobile phones rather than talking. Psychologists are concerned that technology is impairing the social development of young adults.

Studies have shown that the lack of quality interaction between today’s teenagers could be at the root of mental health issues. A lack of connection with other people often results in us losing a connection with ourselves. Being in nature helps us to reconnect with ourselves. When you feel good about yourself, you are more confident around other people and better equipped to build bonding relationships.

If you’re struggling to convince your offspring to go on a nature walk, why not create a game or set a challenge. Take a look at this article for inspirational ways to make nature walks more interesting.

It’s important that people of all ages look after mental and physical health. Most emotional traumas happen in our teen years, but can cause major problems later in life.

Image Credits: Takahiro Sakamoto

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