5 Ways Nature Can Help Youth to Beat Anxiety
– by Marcus Clarke
Anxiety is frequent experienced by many people in the busy world in which we live. Research have uncovered that the most likely time for a person to develop an anxiety disorder is during childhood and adolescence. According to the National Institute of Health, symptoms of anxiety among youths can range from mild symptoms to extreme panic attacks. Researchers have begun to determine ways to recognize and prevent the risk factors and outcome of anxiety, rather than merely treating the symptoms.
Many youths tend to spend the majority of their time indoors. As technology advances, people in general become more likely to sit in front of a screen rather than going outside. This behavior has caused social isolation and a loss of appreciation for nature. However, scientists have found that being outdoors can induce positive outlooks. Number 7 on this list names spending time outdoors as a proven anxiety reliever. Youths who spend time outdoors learn that their world is broad and fulfilling and can increase cognition and foster interest in the community.
Connecting with nature has the ability to reduce stress. Exercise is a proven endorphin-releasing therapy. The high that many who exercise feel is akin to the effects of medications and other drugs that provide a euphoric state. Outdoor exercise is considered more beneficial to the well-being of the mind than indoor exercise.
Self-Confidence and Self-Awareness
Being outdoors can also foster self-confidence and bring awareness to the physical abilities of the body. Young people can also feel empowered through their discovered ability to survive in the elements rather than hiding indoors. The exertion felt after a hike or the awe felt after watching a sunset can often be linked to the youth’s own life. The hike may represent a tough mental challenge the child is working to overcome, while the sunset can represent the end of a tumultuous time in a teenager’s life.
Increase in Consciousness
Mindfulness is being sought by many as a form of warding off anxiety. For youths, the emotional and physical connection that is found in nature can increase mindfulness. The feeling of connecting with the wide world through blue skies, waterfalls, and sunshine gives youths a connection to the universe that cannot be felt through an electronic device. Children and teens who are facing anxiety may be able to retreat to this happy place they have created in their minds which can alleviate the symptoms felt during anxious times.
The phenomenon of nature to improve mental health is well-studied. Through various experiments, researchers have observed the brain reacting in healthy ways to serene images of nature as opposed to those of urban surroundings. Walks through either a city environment or a natural outdoor scene produced different outcomes. Those who walked in nature had reduced levels of anxiety and were able to stop or slow down the constant negative thoughts and emotions that consistently accompany anxiety. Using nature as a method of redirecting the mind and increasing positive thoughts and feelings can be an excellent way to stop anxiety in its tracks.
Nature as Medication
Rather than seeking treatment for anxiety symptoms, sufferers should instead seek ways to combat and overcome anxiety before it starts. Nature has been a proven method time and again for helping those who suffer to improve mental health and increase their connection to the world. The sense of belonging and wonder that accompany those who spend time outdoors can improve the lives of many youths who face anxiety.
Marcus regularly blogs at psysci, a psychology, science blog that examines the latest research and explains how findings can impact and improve people’s lives.