21 Apr Earth Day Mental Health Activities for Teens
These days, we spend so much of our lives focused on virtual realities: emails, word documents, social media, and selfies. Teens are certainly not immune to the stressing effects of excessive amounts of time indoors behind screens. But Earth Day reminds us of the power of staying connected to the planet. This year, teens can honor the planet and themselves by focusing on the intersection between nature and well-being. Keep reading for tips on how to help your teen soak up the mental health benefits of nature and have a truly happy Earth Day!
When your teen feels like the whole world is on their shoulders, what better way to help them relieve that stress than by stepping into the physical world around them for a healthy, centering distraction from school, relationships, or simply growing up. Whether it’s enjoying earth’s creatures, the bright green leaves rustling in the wind, or the scent of fresh flowers blooming, nature can evoke a powerful relaxing effect. Stimulating the senses with what lies outside can connect teens to their surroundings, calm them, and remind them of what really matters – and what simply doesn’t. As their minds fill with positivity of colors, sounds, and scents, the stress of the day starts to melt away.
The benefits of physical activity on mental health are widely understood. Exercise increases hormones called endorphins, which decrease negative emotions. And seemingly countless studies demonstrate that time in nature has a similar impact on mood. So why not combine forces by doing that essential movement in nature? Encourage your teen to foster their mental and physical health by engaging in outdoor activities often! Exercise-based Earth Day activities today can become powerful mental health habits for tomorrow.
Getting outdoors can be more important than your teen might imagine. Vitamin D is essential for physical health, and as we know, poor physical health can be detrimental to mental health. Soaking up a few minutes of sunshine each day can actually improve your teen’s sleep hygiene. Yes, when sunlight hits the eyes, a powerful reaction ensues. Exposure to sunlight tells the body when to increase or decrease melatonin levels. As a result, time spent outdoors can play a role in hormone regulation and in improving sleep patterns. On the flip side, reduced daylight can affect our circadian rhythms and cause mood changes. So, give your teen the bright idea to get out of the shade, warm up, and feel the relaxing sensation of sunshine.
Spending time outdoors engaging in mental health activities for teens, can offer seemingly endless benefits for their well-being. So encourage your teen to not stop enjoying nature after Earth Day. Make a habit of it! If you don’t have access to a national park, nature reserve or a beach, don’t worry, if you look you can find nature’s wonders just about everywhere. Building a routine of reaping nature’s rewards might even have a waterfall effect. As connecting with nature starts showing its benefits, your teen might just notice other aspects of their life improve too. Maybe their increased feelings of well-being helps them focus better in school? Maybe a better night’s rest makes them feel more confident? The positive possibilities are endless.
At Tilly’s Life Center, our mission is to support teens in pursuit of positive, healthy, and productive lives. While having a happy Earth Day can be as simple as connecting with nature and allowing its immense benefits to take hold in your teen’s life, this holiday is just the beginning of a journey towards better mental wellness. We provide mental health resources for teens to offer them the tools they need to thrive. To learn more about our Social and Emotional curriculum, visit us at www.tillyslifecenter.org.