top of page

Medically reviewed by Akilah Reynolds, Ph.D. — By Sarah Garone

8 Mental Health Benefits of Getting Your Kids Outside, Plus Tips on How to Do It

Article Medically reviewed by

Akilah Reynolds, Ph.D. — By Sarah Garone

Between a global pandemic, social unrest, military conflicts overseas, and environmental catastrophes like wildfires and heatwaves, it’s safe to say the first 2 years of the 2020s have been pretty stressful.

If you and your kids are feeling frazzled, isolated, anxious, or depressed, you aren’t alone.

As of March 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25 percent increase in depression and anxiety worldwide.

This trend isn’t limited to adults.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source

, mental health-related emergency department visits from March to October 2020 increased 24 percent for children ages 5 to 11 and 31 percent for those ages 12 to 17 compared with 2019.

A spring 2020 national survey of 3,300 high school students found that a third of students felt unhappy and depressed much more than usual.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), this constitutes a children’s mental health crisis.

While this may be a daunting reality to face as a parent, there are ways to help reduce the effects the last few years of turmoil have had on your kids.

One way is to get outside.

To some, this may seem too simple to work. For others, like those living in cities, it might seem inaccessible. Still, the science is in: Getting outside can greatly benefit your family’s mental health.

Here are the facts on the mind-nature connection, plus tips for getting outdoors, no matter your circumstances.

The physical and mental health benefits of getting outside

It’s no secret that the body and mind are connected. The research mentioned below shows that time outside has important positive effects on physical well-being. This can lead to better mental health outcomes in children and adults.

The following physiological changes may have a powerful impact on the emotional states of both kids and parents:

  • reduced cortisol

  • lowered blood pressure and heart rate

  • increased vitamin D

  • improved sleep quality and increased duration

  • increased overall well-being

  • improved cognition and creativity

  • less rumination

  • improved relationships

Reduced cortisol

Cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, is known as the stress hormone. When it comes to mental health, it’s best for the body to produce just enough — and not too much.

In an 8-week 2019 study of 36 urban dwellers, participants spent time in any outdoor environment that brought them in touch with nature. After doing so three times a week for 10 minutes or more, participants had a significant drop in cortisol, no matter what activities they performed outside.

“The chronic stress of our daily lives can lead to adrenal hyperstimulation and eventually fatigue,” says Joel Warsh, a board-certified pediatrician and the founder of Integrative Pediatrics. “By taking some time to step away to nature, [parents and kids] can reduce cortisol levels, decrease stress, and eventually change overall health.”

Lower blood pressure and heart rate

Blood pressure and heart rate aren’t just a window into your cardiovascular health. They’re also important measures of stress in the body.

According to research from 2020, multiple studies showed that sitting or walking outdoors significantly reduced both blood pressure and heart rate.

The research showed that getting outside decreased the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the body’s fight-flight-freeze response. While a useful short-term adaptive strategy, this nervous system response can get stuck in overdrive and lead to long-term stress and fatigue.

Increased vitamin D

Research from 2018 estimated that about 42 percent of American adultsTrusted Source

are deficient in vitamin D. Many kids don’t get enough of this nutrient, either.

According to a 2016 studyTrusted Source

of 330 children in Busan, South Korea, nearly 60 percent of participants...


Click Here to Read the Full Article

Medically reviewed by Akilah Reynolds, PhD — By Sarah Garone

Stay updated with us on our social media. Follow, Like, and Subscribe!

Updated: Feb 24

Discover how to get started with journaling for improved mental health and wellbeing...


How to start journaling for mental health

Discover how to get started with journaling for improved mental health and wellbeing.

By Psychologies

Journaling has exploded in popularity, and little wonder – it’s a great way to gain insight to your problems, connect with yourself, and it can be a lot of fun, too. Rachel Garnet discovers how to get started with journaling for your mental health…

Since I started journaling a few months ago, it’s become one of the most helpful and insightful things I do for my mental health and wellbeing. Yet, for a long time, when friends talked about their ‘journals’, I dismissed the practice as the same as diary-keeping – to be restricted to teenagers wanting to detail their days away from prying parental eyes, or for reminders, such as ‘give cat worm pill’.

Away in far-flung places, I never wrote a word – why recount experiences when I was living them? How wrong I was. Diaries may fundamentally be logbooks, but journals are your words about who you are.

My mind was changed by a work event. There, I met a woman who had impressed me with her self-belief and confidence. She amazed me by saying that when her insecurities arise, she journals, and that by leaving them on the page she frees herself from them.

Getting started with journaling

I was skeptical, but heeding her encouragement and wanting her tenacity, I bought a cheap book full of blank pages, with a pretty gold and pink cover; there are no printed dates in a journal, so none of the guilt of chronicle – free days.

At first, I was unsure how to start journaling. I wrote how I worried that my presentation and perceptions at a meeting would not be well received. The words poured out. It felt weird, even furtive. I hid my journal among other books on my bedside table.

But days later, as I felt worries bubbling up again, I journalled that I felt like a balloon about to pop, still stuck years on with a lack of self-worth. Letting rip on the page became a self a regular thing. Already, I credit it with feeling less self-critical which, for me, is like a 10-tonne weight lifting.

Why is journaling good for your mental health?

Jackee Holder, leadership coach and author of 49 Ways to Write Yourself Well (Step Beach Press, £12.99), says: ‘A traditional diary is factual, it doesn’t externalize your inner dialogue, but a journal does. Journaling is the opportunity to express your inner thoughts and emotions, your creativity and your vibrancy.’

No wonder then, that journaling is powerful for our mental, physical and future health; recording experiences now can be a vital tool for memory as we age.

Research, carried out by universities from Lancaster to Arizona, shows that journaling can help maintain heart health, increase immunity and reduce stress. It is a detox for the brain and soul; writing down thoughts imposes structure on them and literally gets them out of our heads.

How to start journaling for mental health

When you’re first learning how to start a journal, decide where and how you want to write. I journal in my bedroom in the evening, but Holder points out: ‘You may feel safer when you write in a public place…Noisy spaces are a good way to distract your inner critic, who will do all it can to convince you not to journal. If it’s not practical to designate a fixed place, make your journal as portable as possible.’

A friend who is dealing with intense issues, but also has four kids and a full-time job, journals on her phone on the bus home from work. Holder puts the case for a regular journalling pattern, be it every three days or whatever works for you.

Find a time when you are not distracted and try to allocate at least 10 to 15 minutes for each session. ‘It will give you enough time and space to express yourself and dip beneath the surface,’ says Holder.

How to start a journal: 4 writing prompts

A word or an essay? It can be hard to know what to write when learning how to start journaling. ‘One of the most common reasons people give for not keeping a journal is that they don’t know what to write,’ says Holder.

She advocates writing prompts as ‘a way to access topics if you are worried about having a blank mind when you first learn how to start a journal’. Writing prompts could include:

  • What you are thinking now

  • A concern you have

  • The view from your window

  • The best job you ever had

One of my journal entries is a single swearword; it summed up how I felt at the time. As my journal filled, I began to feel release. Holder understands this: ‘I had a relationship break-up two years ago and my journal never left my side,’ she says. ‘It kept me afloat and helped me regain my buoyancy. ’...


Click Here to Read the Full Article by Psychologies

Stay updated with us on social media. Follow, Like and Subscribe!

5 views0 comments

Updated: Feb 24

Article medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD — By Jacquelyn Cafasso

1. Learn something new

Memory strength is just like muscular strength. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. But you can’t lift the same size weight every day and expect to get stronger. You’ll need to keep your brain constantly challenged. Learning a new skill is an excellent way to strengthen your brain’s memory capacity.

There are many activities to choose from, but most importantly, you’ll need to find something that forces you out of your comfort zone and commands your full attention.

Here are some examples:

  • learn a new instrument

  • make pottery

  • play mind games, like Sudoku or chess

  • learn a new type of dance, like the tango

  • learn a new language

Research from 2007 Trusted Source showed that speaking more than one language can delay the onset of memory problems in people with dementia.

2. Repeat and retrieve

Any time you learn a new piece of information, you’re more likely to mentally record that information if it’s repeated.

Repetition reinforces the connections we create between neurons. Repeat what you hear out loud. Try using it in a sentence. Write it down and read it aloud.

But the work doesn’t stop there. Research shows that simple repetition is an ineffective learning tool if used on its own. You’ll need to sit back down later and actively try to retrieve the information without looking at where you wrote it down. Testing yourself to retrieve the information is better than repeated studying. Practicing retrieval creates more long-term and meaningful learning experiences.

3. Try acronyms, abbreviations, and mnemonics Mnemonic devices can be in the form of acronyms, abbreviations, songs, or rhymes. Mnemonics have been tested since the 1960s as an effective strategy for students. You’ve probably been taught a few mnemonic devices for remembering long lists. For example, the colors of the spectrum can be remembered with the name ROY G. BIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).

4. “Group” or “chunk” information Grouping or chunking refers to the process of dividing newly learned information into chunks to produce fewer, larger chunks of information. For example, you may have noticed that it’s much easier to remember a phone number if the 10 digits are grouped into three separate chunks (e.g., 555-637-8299) rather than one long number (5556378299).

5. Construct a “mind palace.” The mind palace technique is often used by memory champions. In this ancient technique, you create a visual and complex place to store a set of memories. For more instructions on how to create memory palaces, watch 2006 U.S. Memory Champion Joshua Foer’s TED talk.

6. Use all of your senses Another tactic of memory connoisseurs is that they don’t just rely on one sense to help retain information. Instead, they relate information to other senses, like colors, tastes, and smells.

7. Don’t turn to google right away

Modern technology has its place, but unfortunately has made us “mentally lazy.” Before you reach for your phone to ask Siri or Google, make a solid attempt to retrieve the information with your mind. This process helps reinforce the neural pathways in your brain.

8. Lose the GPS Another common mistake is relying on the GPS every time you drive. Researchers foundTrusted Source in 2013 that relying on response techniques — such as GPS — for navigation, shrinks a part of our brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for spatial memory and moving information from short-term to long-term memory. Poor hippocampus health is associated with dementia and memory decline. Unless you’re totally lost, try to get to your destination using your brain instead of just following the instructions on your GPS. Perhaps use GPS to get there, but use your brain to get back home. Your brain will thank you for the extra challenge.

9. Keep yourself busy A busy schedule can maintain your brain’s episodic memory. One study linked busy schedules to better cognitive function. This study, however, was limited by self-reporting.

10. Stay organized An organized person has an easier time remembering. Checklists are one good tool for organization. Manually writing down your checklist (instead of doing it electronically) also increases the likelihood that you’ll remember what you’ve written down.


Click Here to Read the Full Article by

Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD — By Jacquelyn Cafasso

Stay updated with us on our social media. Follow, Like and Subscribe!

3 views0 comments
bottom of page