I don’t know about where you live, but I feel like the Pacific Northwest had to be dragged kicking and screaming into nice weather this year. But it finally arrived! Spring showers are coming to a close and Summer is (just about) here. In the Great PNW, Spring and Summer are really something to be celebrated. We spend six months under a ceaseless skyscape of rainthick clouds, so when the flowers start to bloom…and then fruit…when the sun shines and the sky blushes blue, it’s time to go outside and soak it up.
But even if you live somewhere that gets year round sunshine, Summer is a great time to bond with your kiddos. School’s out. Kids come home, and the great outdoors are calling. Of course, there is always the temptation of screens, and I’m not saying never use them. This blog wouldn’t exist without a screen! Screens have their uses, but too much time in front of one, and too little time moving around outdoors can actually increase anxiety and depression, even if staying in with a movie feels like the best antidote to social anxiety or some other type of episode.
Now, I’m not trying to suggest that mental illness can be cured through exercise and sunshine. I sure wish a good run in the sun could erase my PTSD; unfortunately mental illness involves neurological changes which take a lot of intentional work to manage, including physical, mental, and emotional.
That being said, studies confirm what I have personally experienced: even 10-15 minutes of exercise each day can help balance neurochemistry by promoting the production of endorphins and serotonin. Sunshine is also loaded with Vitamin D, and helps to reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. So, while your mental illness can’t be cured by a walk in the sun, that walk can, in fact, ameliorate some of your symptoms.
Joe from Nature Rated was kind enough to write a post for Betty’s Battleground about the benefits of exercise and outdoor play, along with an infographic detailing some outdoor activities to do with your kiddos. A couple of these activities require the privilege of a home with a backyard; something I, and many parents with mental illnesses don’t have; most of them, however, can be executed or adapted to fit anyone on even the tightest budgets. So I’m really excited to share this guest post with you, while I wrap up my daughter’s birthday celebrations and get back to “real life” (and blog posts written by moi). I hope you and your family enjoy these activities!
15 Outdoor Activities To Promote Mental Healthiness In Kids And Parents
What are your kids doing this Summer? For many of us Summer time with the kids is a time to enjoy the outdoors, the sunshine and, if you’re lucky, the ocean.
As much as kids love Summer holidays, keeping them busy can be a real chore! If you’ve not got the luxury of a Summer camp then it’s up to you as parent to find things for the youngsters to keep busy with.
Failing that, your kids might spend all their time in front of a computer, tablet, phone or other screen. Research has shown that spending too much time in front of a screen can have a detrimental effect on the health and well-being of children.
Studies have shown that taking part in nature-based activities helps people who are suffering from ill mental health and can contribute to a reduction in levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. In fact, a daily walk in nature has shown decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
One in four people are estimated to experience bouts of ill mental health and it’s on the rise. Prescription medication of antidepressants are also at a record high level and the need for more intensive treatments like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also on the rise. Health and social care commissioners are examining and commissioning different options for cost effective services to treat mental illness and one of these options is a daily walk of 90 minutes or more. We need to learn from the past when kids got excited to spend their time climbing trees and building dens rather than spending hours upon hours inside.
I understand this all too well and have put together an infographic with 15 Summer activities to help your kids appreciate nature.
Here ya go
From baking a blackberry pie to constructing a pond or insect hotel, there’s plenty for the youngsters to get up to. Head on over to Nature Rated for step by step instructions to get your kids out and about enjoying nature.
What are some of your favorite outdoor activities to do with the kids when the weather is bright? Leave your suggestions in the comments!
Even while on vacation I have been working hard to grow this blog and it would totally make my day if you could take 30 seconds out of yours to click a share button or two. They are down below the post, or floating on the side.
Til next time!