Why Outdoor Time is Beneficial to Teens

When’s the last time you sent your teen outdoors for the sake of just getting them outside?

Before lockdown, you may have found your adolescents spending less time outside for a variety of reasons. It could have been due to them no longer having an interest in going to the park or riding their bikes around the neighborhood, or them preferring to spend time indoors on their phones or using their favorite gaming platform.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us started spending more time indoors, away from social activities and most people we know. Most teenagers likely didn’t mind being forced to spend more time indoors and away from outside distractions.

However,there have been increased cases of depression and anxiety in teens. Adults are certainly not immune to these same mental health concerns, but teens will quite often need the help of their parents to get through this difficult stage.

Getting them out of the house, into nature, and exploring life away from gadgets and social media can prove hugely beneficial.

Be the example that they need

One of the best ways to encourage your teen to spend more time outdoors is to simply set an excellent example for them. It’s all too easy to get caught up in all that we need to do, from working responsibilities to catching up on your favorite TV show.

Don’t just send your teen outdoors alone. Lead by example and accompany them on some outdoor time. Suggest some activities that they may enjoy and let them come up with some ideas that they think you’d both enjoy.

Learning about and practicing mindfulness

If your teen goes to therapy, there are good chances that he will learn about the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about paying full attention to what you are doing or feeling.

It could be folding laundry, feeling the fabric in your hands as you hang things up, or fold them. Perhaps it’s getting ready to shoot some hoops. Carefully place your feet on the line on the court, feel the material of the ball between your hands, focusing on the hoop.

There are several benefits of mindfulness for the busy teenage brain, including the following:

  • Remain calm during stressful situations
  • Pay better attention
  • Be less distracted
  • Be a better listener
  • Focus on and complete tasks
  • Gain better self-control
  • Have more self awareness

The more that you spend time focusing on mindfulness, the better you will be at it. This is something that you and your teen can work on together, particularly as you start to focus on spending more time outdoors.

Mindful walking

Walking is a low-impact activity that everyone can get involved in. Whether you’re starting with a simple walk around the neighborhood or a walk around a nearby park, focusing on each step can prove to be relaxing for an anxious and stressed mind.

Mindful walking allows you and your teen to clear the cobwebs from your mind. It can allow you to be present in the moment as you’re taking a stroll. It can also remind you of your good health.

While a longer walk allows for more reflection and plenty of conversation, just a short ten-minute walk can sometimes be just what your teen needs to get that pep back in his step.

Go on a hike

A half or full-day hike can be a great way to break away from the electronics and the sometimes-smothering social media and news outlets filling our feeds with bad news. Have your teen do some online research to find the best hiking trails in your area. Then work together to pack a lunch and backpack so that you’re all set for your hiking adventure.

Mindfulness can be a part of your hike. Remind your teen to focus on his breathing while walking versus focusing on the things causing him stress or anxiety. Intentionally breathing and finding a rhythm with each step that he takes can help him to find a place of mental calmness.

Don’t forget to take a few breaks to take in your surroundings. Your teen might not enjoy the hike initially, but after a day in the great outdoors, being disconnected from the gadgets, breathing in fresh air, he may surprise himself with how much mental clarity he has.

Adventures in the water

Whether in your backyard or at a swimming hole tucked away in the woods, swimming can be a wonderful way to disconnect from stress and reconnect with nature. If you live near a lake or the coast, there are sure to be many places for you and your family to retreat to.

In the summer months, it can be an excellent getaway for the whole family to zip down to the beach and simply enjoy the feeling of the water against your skin.

Fishing is another way to enjoy time at the lake or beach. Whether you’re a family that loves to fish or you’ve never been before, this can be a great way for your teen to escape his mental health struggles and learn something new.

Renting kayaks or even a small sailing boat can also be a fun way to try something new and connect with the great outdoors.

Planting a garden

Are you an avid gardener?

Are your tomatoes the envy of the neighborhood each summer?

Growing a vegetable garden is a great way to not only engage your teenager but to give them a visible sense of accomplishment. There is nothing quite like growing the food that you eat. Gardening allows your teen to disconnect from the things he’s thoughts and to connect with nature in a very fundamental way. Grow squash, corn, peas, and more. This is a great way to encourage more time outdoors and to bond with your teen.

Look to the sky

Spending time with the great outdoors is sure to benefit your teen by bolstering his confidence and his connection with the world around him. Spending more time with the night sky can offer him more time to reflect and connect.

Invest in a decent telescope and find the nearest park where light pollution won’t be an issue. You and your teen can learn more about the constellations, enjoy a full moon, and appreciate a meteor shower.

This is a wonderful way for your teen to remember that their problems may seem insurmountable in the moment, but there is a big universe out there with so much potential waiting to be discovered. He may even develop a new hobby that inspires him to pursue a new career path. New hobbies and interests can also be a great way to connect with new people and form friendships that will benefit his mental health.

If your teen needs additional support and help for anxiety or depression, counseling can prove to be the right direction. A therapeutic boarding school can provide the support and structure that a teen in crisis needs. A therapeutic boarding school can provide treatments that are tailored to the needs of your teen.

Call us at Liahona Academy to learn more about the guidance that we can provide.

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