The benefits of being outdoors have long been documented, but now more people are purposefully getting closer to the environment to take advantage of its natural high and really get the most out of this mental health boost.
Outdoor adventure, or wilderness, therapy is growing in popularity among those looking for therapeutic tools to help them address issues they may have.
Christine Lynn Norton, associate professor in the school of social work at Texas State University, San Marcos, told Refinery29.com: “It’s that use of nature, the group challenge and adventure, mindfulness, and a therapeutic relationship, that all kind of come together to really help the client feel improved.”
The therapy typically includes a range of outdoor activities to get participants kinaesthetically engaged to help their cognitive and somatic responses.
The sessions can be private, with the activity individualised to the person’s needs, or they can participate with a group of other people.
Dr Norton went on to say: “If a lot of trauma gets deeply embedded somatically in the body, then, it doesn’t make sense to sit and do talk therapy.”
Instead, the patients she sees with anxiety, depression, substance abuse issues or ADHD, find it beneficial getting involved in physical activities, being part of a group, adopting a mindfulness approach, and being close to nature.
By getting out of their comfort zone, doing something new, experiencing different dynamics in a group, and reconnecting with themselves, many patients find their emotional wellbeing improves as a result.
This is one of the reasons why children should be encouraged to engage in outdoor adventures from a young age – something the Duchess of Cambridge has been raising awareness about.
Speaking on Blue Peter, the Duchess said: “It encourages creativity, confidence and … makes a huge difference to physical wellbeing, but also to our mental wellbeing.”
Take a look at our outdoor activity centre in Cheshire for inspiration for you and your children.