by Tracey Frederiksen, Adult Secretary of The Launch Pad Teen Center Board of Directors, MC, LPC, EMDR Certified Therapist
When I recall climbing trees as a child, I immediately experience a pure sense of joy while sifting through those memories. I remember how my siblings and I would spend hours climbing the trees in the yard of our cornfield-lined home in Indiana.
Nowadays, it is profoundly satisfying and centering for me to explore each nook and cranny of our local lakes in Prescott while in my kayak. The common denominator of these two experiences is being outdoors; spending time outdoors can increase your sense of well-being and happiness.
One of our teens from The Launch Pad Teen Center, RJ, said, “Being outdoors with The Launch Pad feels good, I can tell it’s good for my brain.”
The Launch Pad offers multiple ways for teens to get outdoors. One of the summer programs was Adventure Camp where they engaged in mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking. At Adventure Camp, they also had an overnight event out at a lake for swimming and map/compass navigation workshops. Along with those activities at Adventure Camp, the teens participated in some planned self-reflection and journaling time that accompanied a lesson on the overall benefit nature can have on your mental health.
Oftentimes we tend to prioritize being on social media and plugged into our phones. While I understand that we each get a rush when we get a notification on our phone, it may not necessarily be a good one. Just think about the positive rush you get when you see a wild animal in the forest, a beautiful sunrise/sunset, or take in the local scenery when you take a hike.
Nature is not disappointing, and won’t deliver you bad news or cause unnecessary anxiety. The point is, if you want to increase your happiness, get yourself outside and into nature.
Whether you go to the lake, kayak, go on a bike ride, or take a hike, it doesn’t really matter because the end result will be the same. Getting yourself outside and into nature is a great way to increase your positive mental health and, of course, your physical health won’t suffer for it either.