The Mental Benefits of Outdoor Recreation

The Mental Benefits of Outdoor Recreation

If you’ve arrived here at our blog, you’ve likely already seen that our website is decorated all over with pictures of beautiful Utah nature. This isn’t just a superficial choice — at Kaizen Academy, we spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, along with the teenagers who are enrolled with our program. It’s not just because the surrounding scenery is beautiful, but because there are several tangible benefits that come from spending outdoors.

For the many teenage boys who are enrolled at Kaizen Academy, this is incredibly important. Kaizen Academy is a residential treatment center for teenagers who struggle with sexual behavioral problems. From problematic sexual boundaries to compulsive behavior, good mental health is essential in overcoming these issues, and that’s why we make outdoor activities a strong focus of our program. Many studies have shown the mental benefits that result from spending meaningful time outdoors. Here are some of them:

Being Outdoors Reduces Stress Levels

Many studies have spoken to the positive effect that the outdoors have on one’s stress levels. Stress management is extremely important for our teenagers here at Kaizen — the more stressed out somebody is, the harder it is walking a path to recovery. The brain has to be in a place of peace in order for true change to occur, and stress gets right in the way of that.

Stress isn’t always a contributing factor to problematic sexual habits, but it’s definitely an impediment to progress. It’s a good thing, then, that Kaizen Academy is surrounded by the incredibly beautiful nature of the Utah frontier! By spending time outdoors, admiring incredible views, and breathing in air, the teens who stay here can get into a much better headspace.

Outdoor stress relief isn’t just a matter of “feeling better” due to being surrounded by pretty sights — studies have actually shown that outdoor exposure results in a measurable decrease of cortisol. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone;” the less of it in our system, the better we feel.

Eliminates Mental Fatigue

While the brain is technically classified as an organ, it can be compared to a muscle in a lot of ways. Your brain, like other muscles, can be worked to exhaustion. It can get tired from over-use, and it needs recovery. We just tend not to notice as much because the human brain doesn’t get sore, but make no mistake — when your brain is tired, it’ll result in weakened cognitive function and reduced mental efficiency.

To get back into gear, it’s important for the brain to either recover via sleep and diet, or through “restorative environments” which help to get it back into speed. The great outdoors are one such type of restorative environment — after spending time outdoors, the brain can feel less tired and more alert.

At Kaizen Academy, we like to cultivate the mental health of our teenagers because it helps them to focus on healthy, productive pursuits, such as hobbies, athletics, reading, and so on. Many sexual behavioral problems — especially serious pornography addiction — are symptomatic of brain chemistry imbalances. To get away and restore healthy connections in the brain, it’s important to be actively engaged in other mental pursuits — not so easy when you feel bogged down.

Fights Depression And Anxiety

While we acknowledge that depression and anxiety can be chronic conditions that some people naturally struggle with from a young age, it’s not what nature intended for us. It’s fitting, then, that spending time in nature tends to curb the effects of depression anxiety.

Depression is a complicated condition that can be caused by a multitude of factors. Will spending time outside “cure” your depression? Most likely not, but it can certainly alleviate some of the factors that exacerbate it. Depression can be made worse by low self-esteem, bad moods, and both of these things are treatable through therapeutic outdoor time.

At Kaizen Academy, we provide counseling and therapy for teenagers, and depression is very common among the boys who struggle with sexual behavioral problems. Sometimes, depression is the biggest problem that needs to be tackled, which their troublesome habits are merely a symptom of. Healthy outdoor time can help to attack the problem at its source.

It Could Improve Focus

Brain chemistry imbalances are a big part of why many teenagers struggle with sexual problems. Sexual release is closely tied with a variety of brain chemicals. When your brain gets pumped by these chemicals in excessive amounts, it often desensitizes itself to them, requiring higher doses for them to achieve their desired effect.

Dopamine is closely tied to pornography consumption, and it’s also one of the most important fuels for the pre-frontal cortex, the executive center of the brain. For people who suffer from a low-performing pre-frontal cortex, maintaining focus can be extremely difficult. Because of what’s happening in the brain, many of our teenagers at Kaizen Academy struggle with maintaining focus.

Prolonged periods of outdoor time have been shown to increase focus and cognitive ability in test subjects. They say that just taking a ten-minute walk outside can have measurable effects on your productivity and workflow. A big goal at Kaizen Academy is to help teenage boys replace their troublesome habits with productive ones, so good focus is essential. We like to spend as much time as we can outside to ensure healthy mental stimulation.

Boosts Creativity

Creativity is a subjective measure, so it’s inherently difficult to quantify. Nevertheless, there is a lot of research being done on the effects that mother nature can have on one’s creative faculties. The results are positive — one group that spent four days in nature performed 50% better on a creative problem-solving tests than other subjects.

We highly value creativity here at Kaizen Academy, because it’s the glue that can hold long-term hobbies and passions together. We can introduce teenagers to fun activities and engaging hobbies all day, but if they don’t flex their creative muscles, these pursuits can end up dead in the water shortly after leaving our residential treatment center. But with a creative mind and a passion to grow, a teenage boy can develop habits that will help to prevent them from relapsing into any sexual behavioral problems that they may have suffered with before.

We’ve seen firsthand how a trip among Utah’s arches, forests, and mountains can boost creative energies back at the residential treatment center, and that’s why we will continue to put heavy focus on our outdoor programs.

Utah’s Finest Residential Treatment Center

Do you have a teenage son who struggles with sexual behavioral problems? At Kaizen Academy, we provide therapy and counseling for teenagers who need help overcoming these issues, and we’ll be the first to tell you that there is hope, and there is healing. However, it requires a disciplined commitment to the teenager’s well-being, that’s rounded out by a variety of activities and treatments.

Our outdoor therapy and recreation activities include adventures such as skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and camping. Through all of this, you can bet that your teenage son will get tremendous amounts of exposure to the great outdoors, and feel the healing effect that takes place in the brain. Do you have questions about Kaizen Academy? Contact us today.