By Emma Horwood
Among teens and young adults, the noticeable decline in mental and physical wellness can lead to academic difficulty, social stress, lack of focus, health complications, and a generally less fulfilling life. Those who struggle with them are often in need of ways to manage these challenges in order to lead a happy, healthy life. One factor that has coincided with this diminished well-being is the decrease in time spent outdoors. Statistics have shown that today’s youth spends less than half the amount of time outside than the previous generation. The strong connection between one’s personal welfare and regular access to nature is shown through the handful of both physical and mental health benefits that engaging in physical activity or even just being in a natural environment offers.
The environment can act as a calming setting for those dealing with excess amounts of stress, anger, and other overwhelming, negative emotions. In fact, the relationship between nature and one’s well-being is so powerful that even simple actions like keeping a houseplant or taking a fifteen minute walk can significantly reduce anxiety, promote physical healing, and produce endorphins. Along with relieving stress and depression, “forest-bathing” has been shown to improve short term memory and improve focus. People who regularly spend time outdoors have displayed superior creative thinking and productivity. Vice President of Take A Hike, Senior Sabrina Moreno commented, “Just being in nature I feel, like so free and, like it’s liberating to be up there.” Surrounding oneself in a healthy, green environment is an easy and reliable way to manage mental wellness and reduce symptoms of mental conditions.
Along with a healthier mind, the natural environment promotes physical activity. Walking, biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities are opportunities for fitting in exercise into a daily routine. Being physically active, especially outdoors, eliminates mental fatigue, which can lead to better focus in school and more energy in general. Incorporating small things such as a walk or a bike ride outdoors into your day will produce long term health benefits like lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of cancer, and a stronger immune system. There is even a link between more time spent in nature and improved vision. Exercising outdoors provides unique, physical benefits that can not be recreated in a gym.
Though in Temecula Valley, there are limited options in terms of lush, green spaces, there are some great spots for hiking and other outdoor recreation nearby. The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve (as of now closed indefinitely due to damage from the recent Tenaja Fire), is a twenty minute drive from campus, and offers moderate to rigorous hikes, amazing views, and a chance to visit 150 year old adobe structures. More accessible to those without cars, a short walk from school is the Harveston Lake Park that includes walking trails around the water and beautiful spots for picnics. These locations, along with other parks and trails nearby, provide easily accessible to the public. Regularly spending time in the great outdoors will greatly improve productivity, focus, fitness, and overall satisfaction.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT