Being outside in nature and the outdoors can help to clear a person’s mind. When we participate in activities for the sake of getting out in nature, we can distract ourselves from our issues in the beauty of our surroundings. Nature has long been seen as a place to heal and center the mind. We can connect with the natural world and feel the power of something greater than ourselves. Kids and teenagers are often glued to electronic devices or video games that can prevent them from spending time outdoors. When kids are suffering from emotional issues or addictions, they may be isolating themselves or missing out on the world around them. The outdoors can help teens in recovery find a therapeutic space to heal in.
When we spend a lot of time indoors, we can impact our perspective on our own freedom in life. We may feel closed-in when we are surrounded by walls or cut off from natural light. By getting outside, we can see how big the world is and how much room there is to explore. We can expand our perspectives when we see how grand the world outside can be. We can start to imagine new possibilities in the world outside of our homes.
Troubled teens may be spending the majority of their time indoors and can be missing out on this greater perspective. The surroundings that we choose to spend most of our time in can affect how we view the rest of the world. Our minds make connections and assumptions about the world by the environments we are exposed to–especially the ones we are most frequently finding ourselves in. Kids and teens are still learning a lot about the world around them. When kids spend too much of their time indoors or interacting with people through electronic devices, they may struggle when planning for the future. They may not be able to grasp that there are a large number of possibilities and opportunities available to them.
When teenagers are feeling depressed, they may not want to go out. They might start to isolate or hide away in their rooms for nearly all of their free time. Depression can cause a person to feel insular with a narrow perspective on the possibilities around them. Depression can be cyclic and self-feeding. A person may feel depressed feeling like the world is not open to them or depression itself can make them feel this way. By getting outdoors more frequently, a person can slowly begin to break this negative self-feeding cycle.
Teens experiencing high levels of anxiety may also spend a lot of time inside. They may fear the world around them or experience social anxieties, which make interactions with others difficult for them. Spending time in nature or the outdoors can help them build the tolerance needed to reduce their anxiety. Kids might feel anxious about new environments or meeting new people. By spending some time outdoors engaged in fun or rewarding activities, they may begin to feel safe and secure in the world around them.
Helping Kids Get Outdoors
Kids may feel a lack of motivation to get outside due to the stimulation of their inside spaces. With technology, we have been able to connect with people and places around the world without leaving our beds or even needing to change our clothes! Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many teens have been stuck indoors in online classes or with nowhere to go due to canceled activities. However, getting kids outdoors is still possible even if things seem limited. Finding out what things our kids are interested in right now can help us think of ideas to get them outside more. If our kids are watching a lot of streaming services or playing video games, then maybe those shows or games show what they might be interested in. Some things we might not have thought of:
Having a Picnic: instead of eating at home, pack some sandwiches and waters, and get outside to a park. Bring a board game or lawn along to have some fun!
Disc or Frisbee Golf: this is a sport with similar rules to golf. Many public parks have free courses for community use, all we need are the discs.
Animal Sanctuaries: abused, mistreated, or neglected animals may be living in non-profit sanctuaries that our kids might be interested in visiting or volunteering for.
Caring for Pets: if we have a dog, we might be able to help our kids get outside by sharing responsibilities for pet companionship.
Outdoor Music Shows: some parks have free outdoor concerts for the community. For kids interested in music, this may be a good way to get them outside!
Outdoor Car Shows: some communities have weekly or monthly car shows outdoors. If our kids enjoy video games with racing themes, they may be interested in seeing cars.
One of the keys to helping our kids in recovery is to find out what they are already interested in and tie this into healthy activities. If we leverage off of our kids’ strengths and interests, we might encounter less resistance to positive change and growth!
Some residential treatment centers, like Fire Mountain, engage kids in outdoor activities and go off-site to visit new places. Getting out in nature or exploring the outdoors can be fun and rejuvenating for everyone. Kids suffering from addictions, depression, anxiety, or other issues can benefit from gaining perspective of the world around them. Feelings of depression and anxiety can leave a teen feeling isolated or alone. They manifest these feelings by spending large parts of the day indoors. This becomes a negative self-feeding loop, which continuously reinforces the depression and anxiety. By finding out what our kids’ interests are, we can look for outdoor activities that they may be interested in. Fire Mountain understands that having a teen, who is struggling, can be difficult for parents. We are here to help.
Call us at (303) 443-3343 for more information.