Mental Health Benefits of Outdoor Activities – How Stean Gorge
Mental Health Benefits of Outdoor Activities – How Stean Gorge: At How Stean Gorge all guests are given the opportunity to push their mental and physical ability. The challenges are for young and old, for fun and or development. All our activities have been developed to provide the opportunity to give personal develop or therapeutic experience. Whether that is required as enjoyment from a hard week at work or part of a long-term recovery plan. Most of our clients find themselves challenged and pushed out of there comfort zone. This allows people to learn about themselves and what they can achieve if they push themselves both physically and mentally.
There is strong evidence to show that engagement with nature is beneficial for mental health and wellbeing: through a restorative effect (recharging); positive teamwork; and physical challenge. With over 20% of us being affected by mental health issues at some point in our lives, we at How Stean put a great emphasis on the mental health benefits of outdoor activities.
Just being in nature reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases happiness. And not only does it help emotionally but health research has found that exposure to nature reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
Alongside all of this nature is a natural painkiller. We are genetically programmed to find trees, plants and water interesting and this allows us to be distracted that from pain.
We have all heard the adage of having a healthy body leading to a healthy mind, but Sport England recently found that on 72% of those who were active displayed high levels of life satisfaction. Here at How Stean Gorge we challenge all of our participants to make the most of their physical abilities. Whether you are a marathon runner or someone who rarely has the time to exercise, we have a challenge for you.
Self-efficacy and confidence: Outdoor activities provide great opportunities to succeed and achieve often in a non-competitive environment, all of our activities ranging from caving to mountain biking are designed to challenge each participant with a successful outcome. This allows opportunities to develop independence and self-reliance. By completing challenges which our activities provide, including stepping out of your comfort zone, overcoming fears and concerns along the way, we often see huge improvements in confidence, which helps in all aspects of our lives.
We ensure that participants develop soft skills including a sense of responsibility and a purpose in the challenge. This is all coupled on two of the biggest reason that outdoor activities are great: That is that they are fun and enjoyable.
Resilience: with Oftsed acknowledging that over-cautious culture has developed in our schools, developing resilience is one of the strongest applications of outdoor education in our increasingly risk-averse societies. How Steans outdoor activities have been specifically designed to help improve the ability of our participants to withstand and even thrive in difficult circumstances.
One of the key areas to develop resilience is through the challenge.
Challenge + Support = Growth
Our instructors are experts in their field and as such will assess the level of challenge and support required. Participants often push themselves further than they thought possible with the level of support there to ensure their success.
Being Present: We live in an age of busyness, and constant connectivity and often fail to take notice of our surroundings. How many times have you driven to work and halfway there thought to yourself, ‘have I passed the supermarket yet?’
Being present in the moment allows us to enhance our self-understanding and make positive choices based on our values and motivations.
Taking ourselves out of our typical environment allows us to appreciate our environment, we can understand more about the setting and appreciate the power and beauty that nature creates.
Mindfulness is spoken about a lot at the moment, and what better place to reconnect than in a limestone gorge that is so special that it is graded as an SSSI – a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Creativity and Problem Solving: Have you ever been stuck on a problem at work, unsure what steps to take? Outdoor Activities like gorge walking could be the answer. A study undertaken by the University of Utah found that interacting with nature has benefits in creative problem-solving. Disconnecting from technology increases problem solving and creativity by up to 50%.
This is especially important for young people, the outdoor environment and surrounding activities act as a catalyst for creativity and learning. The outdoor environment is complex and changing, this gives young people the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills by analysing the problem sequentially whilst using senses that are sometimes forgotten such as touch and listening.
Teamwork: All of our activities are designed to promote teamwork, whether that is working together in a canoe or helping each other through a cave we rely on each other. When helping, sharing and supporting a team, our sense of self-worth and positive feelings is increased, and not just at that moment but giving and sharing has a long term affect on our wellbeing. This means that this behaviour can lead to stronger relationships in the future.
Ultimately the biggest mental health benefit of outdoor activity is the simple enjoyment of having fun outdoors. Having a break away from work and life, getting out and achieving things such as paddling a canoe, conquering a gorge walk or abseiling down a wall will break up your normal routine, bring you closer to your family and friends and allow you to surpass the challenges building your self-confidence and self-esteem.