A hiking club for your mental well being.
After years of volunteering helping kids with special needs (Autism, Asperger, ADHD, anxieties, etc..) I started noticing a peculiar behavior with students,. every time we go out for an outing or a school fieldtrip to a local trail I noticed something different with the kids,. they seemed more relax, engaged enjoying the quiet environment surrounding them.
A mental health initiative I started after my experience with my students but aim at adults, not necessarily special needs but friends, neighbors, musicians, co-workers, just everyday people I meet dealing with the stress of life, work, relationships, etc.. I was always doing hikes in the local mountains or whenever we play a show in another city or town so It was a no brainer try to help out someone to discover something so simple to help them cope with their issues by simply organizing a hike to the local trails.
Its amazing how the students would come back recharged, full of energy, discovering their local surroundings and at the same time getting them in shape,. not the first intention of my idea but to create a mentality of “I can do this” behavior.
Living in an overwhelming age of trendy fitness studios, expensive personal trainers and high tech workout trackers, it can be easy to forget that the simple act of hiking can be an exercise powerhouse. However, scientific research and health professionals agree that hitting the trails is advantageous for all aspects of physical fitness.
I found that the outdoor walks we’ve been doing all this time to a nearby nature trail made the participants much happier, less stress, observing a playful behavior I don’t see in the classroom or indoor. An effective tool, in this case nature., prove to deliver health benefits maximizing their potential of this pleasant activity offering nature’s hedonic benefits. With this logic knowledge I along with my volunteer colleagues let them maximize their time in nature to increase their happiness and their human curiosity.
I’m not a researcher nor a scientist but I always believe nature improves emotional well being by increasing positive affect and, to a lesser extent, decreasing negative affect. Contact with nature provides lots of benefits even in small doses. Incorporating brief ventures in nature into one’s daily routine may thus be one relatively easy and an enjoyable way to achieve sustainable well being.
The take away message from this is simply paying attention that nearby nature provides mental health benefits, it can be advantageous for the kids, especially those kids with ADHD who generally have trouble staying focused, easily distracted exhibit hyperactivity, and have difficulty controlling impulses. Hiking outdoors improve their cognitive ability, I noticed a reduction in stress and anxiety, boost their self esteem releasing endorphins (feel-good hormones).
There is a link between the urbanization of the world and depression and other forms of mental illness. Simply removing an individual from and urban environment to spend time outdoors where there are fewer mental stressors, less noise and fewer electronic distractions can be a simple solution to a stressed life. Its astonishing that a physical activity as simple and low cost as hiking can provide so many mental health benefits.