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teen mental health

Adventure Outings: How Outdoor Time Improves Mental Health

Maybe you’ve noticed that your teen no longer engages in activities they used to love? Or maybe unhealthy activities are replacing the ones they used to enjoy? Teens struggling with behavioral or mental health issues may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to change the course they’re on. This is where adventure therapy can help. 

Nature and Mental Health

Adventure therapy is a form of therapeutic intervention that utilizes experiential activities involving perceived risk and that are both physically and emotionally challenging. One of the benefits of adventure therapy is that it challenges teens while still maintaining safety as a priority. And while adventure therapy can be practiced both indoors and outdoors, there are additional mental health benefits to spending time in nature. 

An article in Harvard Health explains that even 20-30 minutes outside, two to three days a week can have a positive effect on your mental health. Being in nature can help lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that malfunctions when people are depressed or under high levels of stress. The sounds of nature can even lower blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol. 

Adventure Therapy and Teens

Adventure therapy can be a great fit for teens who struggle in a traditional therapeutic environment. Many adolescents may feel uncomfortable sitting down in a formal setting and talking about their problems with an authority figure. On the other hand, when they are given the opportunity to move their bodies in a less structured setting, their brain has something else to focus on. Instead of being stuck in a place of overthinking and anxiety, their brain has a distraction which can allow teens to better communicate their issues. 

Adventure therapy activities such as rock climbing or white water rafting require teens to focus and stay in the moment. Many teens with anxiety have trouble staying grounded and find their minds spinning into “what ifs” or “maybes”. Adventure therapy is a practice in mindfulness. They need to focus on their next foothold or concentrate on how to navigate this section of the river. They need to stay fully present and engaged in their bodies and their surroundings. 

Adventure therapy activities also promote positive life skills such as teamwork, communication, self-confidence, and healthy coping mechanisms. This combined with the mental health benefits of being in nature can create a powerful treatment plan towards better mental health for teens. 

Red Mountain Colorado Can Help

Red Mountain Colorado was founded to help struggling teens work through behavioral and emotional challenges. We specialize in the treatment of trauma-related mental health challenges. Throughout programming, we empower teens to build healthy coping skills and habits that they can use to work through the challenges they face.

When a teen struggles with emotional and behavioral issues like depression or anxiety and has at least one other mental health condition present, we call this a dual diagnosis disorder (also known as a co-occurring condition). Our program is structured to treat issues like trauma and depression as well as dual diagnosis disorders. When your teen arrives at our treatment facility, our staff will assess if there are any underlying mental health symptoms. With these learnings, we take an integrated approach to create a path to psychosocial wellness. For more information please call (970) 315-9533.