As humans, we never spent as much time indoors as we do now. Our ancestors’ homes were simply a means of weather protection, a place to lay their heads at night and make their meals. Almost every other aspect of life required their days to be spent outdoors.
Our schooling, jobs, and entertainment have moved us inside and it’s making a significant impact on our physical and mental health. From lack of vitamins, increased depression and anxiety to eye strain and headaches due to long stretches interacting with electronic devices. We saw scientific proof of the healing power of nature in 1901. During the summer of a tuberculosis outbreak, Manhattan State Hospital placed 40 psychiatric patients with tuberculosis in tents among the hospital grounds. Their intent was to simply keep them separated from other patients who were free from T.B. When the weather permitted, the hospital would keep one end of the canvas tent open allowing the fresh New York air to bathe the ill patients. The hospital staff began to see such a vast improvement in both physical healing and psychological healing that they began placing non-tubercular patients in tents on the grounds as well. Some of these newly moved patients improved so dramatically they were able to be discharged from the mental hospital.
Pure Life wants to take you back into nature where humans spent the majority of their life for centuries. The health benefits of being outdoors are nearly endless, but even more so, studies are beginning to discover that the benefits of being outdoors are becoming more and more critical to our overall mental health and physical health.
9 Health Benefits Of Being Outdoors
When struggling with mental health or the stressors of life, we often seek a quick fix. A quick fix usually is thought to be a medication of some kind. But we need to stop underestimating the powerful healing and health benefits of simply being in nature. Here are 9 reasons why having nature in our life is important.
1. Reduced Stress
Stress, at its core, is our body’s physiological response to real or perceived external threats. These threats can be school, work, social pressure, internal pressure, or family dynamics. When we step outside, we are often removing ourselves from the direct line of our threat. Our bodies see physiological changes when outdoors. In fact, scientific studies have measured what happens inside our bodies after just 20 minutes of nature. After 20-30 minutes of sitting or walking outside, our cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone) decrease significantly. These studies also show that cortisol levels continue to decrease as you continue spending time outside after the initial 30 minutes. Additional studies have shown that nature can decrease your blood pressure and heart rate while also changing your heart rate pattern.
2. Boosts Positive Emotions
Sunlight helps keep our serotonin levels up which has an important and positive impact on our mood. Serotonin raises our energy, keeps us calm, positive, and focused. Along with sunlight boosting our mood, being outdoors relieves stress, anxiety, and feelings of sadness allowing room for our positive emotions to shine through.
3. Reduced Aggression
Those who spend time in nature can actually combat feelings of aggression by simply experiencing the outdoors. The sounds of nature have been shown to provide calmness, reduced anger, and even mood-boosting benefits. Those who go outdoors seem to be able to restore more self-control and display less aggressive actions and feelings.
4. Boost of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is crucial to our physical health. The best way to increase your vitamin D intake is to get outdoors in the sun! Vitamin D is critical for our bones, blood cells, and even our immune system. Vitamin D also works to assist our body in absorbing other important minerals like calcium and phosphorus.
5. Allows Opportunities To Be Social
Oftentimes, those that are uncomfortable with being in social settings underestimate the healthy aspects that being a social individual can have. Each one of us may have a different social need, but being in nature, especially in Pure Life’s outdoor adventure therapy course, you will learn to connect with others, rely on and trust individuals, and connect with the Costa Rican community. In turn, all these experiences can boost your positive emotions, feeling of purpose, and build interest in experiencing daily life.
6. Improved Focus
There are more cases of health problems from sedentary and indoor life showing up each year. One side effect is difficulty focusing. Nature can restore this focus. Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative says, “Increasingly the research is showing that outdoor and nature play is incredibly important for kids, for both their cognitive and emotional development.”
7. Improved Self-Esteem
In just 5 minutes a day, studies have shown that individuals who spend time in nature, especially when water is involved, saw an increase in self-esteem. Our outdoor adventure therapy adds an additional layer to this by teaching new skills such as surfing and rafting. These experiences will teach our students they are capable of doing hard things which boosts their self-esteem in the moment and for years to come.
8. Improved Sleep
Our quality of sleep can be affected by so many aspects of our life. Many times, when we find ourselves struggling to close our eyes at night, we aren’t even sure what is keeping us awake. The outdoors can help you reset your sleep cycle. The cells in our eyes actually need enough light to trigger our internal clock to work properly. When you combine the outdoor benefits of exercise, reduced stress and anxiety, improved focus, and mood boosters, this is just one more added benefit to ensure you start getting the restful sleep your body needs.
9. Connects Us With Our Surroundings
During a psychology study, participants who experienced nature in a more intimate setting were more inclined to show signs of empathy and respectful behavior towards nature, as well as others around them. Connecting to our environment wholly and on a personal level allows us the ability to foster empathy and feelings of understanding that can guide how we interact and continually care for those around us.
What Is Wilderness Adventure Therapy For Young Adults?
Pure Life’s wilderness and outdoor adventure therapy bring the health benefits of the outdoors to the forefront. Young adults that need guidance with mental health issues, want to experience a meaningful gap year, or discover how to progress forward in life are guided through life-changing experiences. Pure Life’s outdoor therapy includes surfing, rappelling, whitewater rafting as well as community service with the Costa Rican locals to build self-esteem, confidence, and more.
Pure Life Adventure is now part of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council (OBHC) and Association for Experiential Education AEE Accredited. Our outdoor adventure therapy intertwines the benefits of the outdoors with the guidance of licensed therapists. Our therapists hold group therapy sessions with students as well as individually to ensure each student’s specific needs are being addressed.
If you are a young adult who is feeling lost in life, struggling with mental health, or just needs a change of pace from the rigors of school or life, reach out to Pure Life Adventure today. Our outdoor adventure therapy provides experiences that will improve who you are at your core. You will create memories and experiences you’ll carry with you beyond your outdoor adventure in Costa Rica.
If you are a parent who is watching your young adult tread water due to mental illness, lack of direction, focus, or desire to move on in life, Pure Life Adventure wants to help. Our outdoor therapy addresses a wide facet of life struggles that can cripple young adults and teaches them how to be productive, confident while taking charge of their life.
Contact Pure Life Adventure today for more information on how you or your young adult can start experiencing a life they never knew was possible.