According to research funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, most Americans spend about 93% of their lives indoors, including 6% inside a vehicle.
Not only does that foster all kinds of unhealthy habits, but it disconnects people – especially young people – from the mental and physical benefits of spending time outside.
Without knowing what the outdoors has to offer, children and teens are more likely to become adults who rarely connect with nature. That means passing up opportunities to grow, have fun, and enjoy a sense of wellness you can only feel in the tranquility of the natural world.
Although many things about human beings have changed over the centuries, our bodies and brains are still hardwired to experience many astounding benefits from the outdoors. It’s never too late to become acquainted with all nature has to offer, either: You are always ready!
Over the last few years, scientists have made some discoveries shedding light on the amazing reasons that being outdoors encourages deep relaxation.
Let’s look at some of the biggest ways the outdoors can relax you:
1) Being Outdoors Helps Normalize Sleep
Children and teens suffering from mental health concerns or other issues might find it harder to fall asleep at night. That increases stress and makes it harder to regulate mood. Natural light exposure regulates the body clock and facilitates night-time production of melatonin, a hormone that signals the body about when to rest and when to rise. During wilderness therapy, young people find greater energy and clarity by resetting their sleep patterns in a healthy way.
2) Nature Revitalizes the Brain and Mind
Daily living places huge demands on a young person’s attention. Eliminating these diverse distractions helps allocate more resources to interrelated brain regions called the Default Mode Network (DMN) – a crucial part of how people of all ages make sense of life. The DMN is the seat of a person’s self-concept as well as empathy toward others. DMN activity occurs in restful states, helping kids and teens reflect and “unlearn” negative beliefs about themselves.