ADVENTURE IS THE KEY TO BOOST MENTAL HEALTH
Every now and then, there come these moments in life where you feel stuck. It may be a job that you are bored of, performance that doesn’t reflect your full potential, relationships that aren’t going the way you want or expectations that you feel you can never meet up to. So many irrelevant variables can accumulate and feel like a burden that weighs you down to one place. In such times, it feels difficult to be able to see yourself objectively and make the right decisions. Before this burden becomes overwhelming, you need to extract yourself from the sinking sand and give yourself a new experience and perspective. In simple words, pack your bags with the bare minimum and get going on an adventure.
Adventure is the answer to many of our man made problems and also acts as a great preventive for issues relating to mental health. As nature would have it, some of the best adventures are found and practiced in the wilderness and logically so. You don’t have to go too far to realise that. Even sitting in your office, if you were to briefly close your eyes and think about a thick canopied forest, there is an instant sense of calm that will pass over your. It’s because there is tranquility associated with the green colour of the leaves that occupies the space in your mind. Now imagine actually being under that canopy, walking up a trail with sounds of the forests to keep you company. Refreshing, isn’t it? Several scientific studies have acknowledged the role of adventure and outdoor sports in advancing personal growth and self discovery. The positive impacts of exposure to the same is so beneficial that adventure is used as a therapy for various disorders and deficiencies.
Here are a few points to convince you of the true benefits of adventure :
1) Happy Brain – As humans living in a fast paced, mechanised world, we are used to set routines and timelines. However, at the primal level, we are animals and it is a fundamental behavioural tendency to look out for new and unfamiliar experiences. When you go for a trek, not knowing exactly where the path is or what obstacles like steep terrain, flowing streams or weather conditions you might have to face, you open yourself to challenges of survival which is the foundation of evolution. When the body works harder, the brain fires up so it can be rewarded by releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine that relieve stress and make you happy. That is why, despite being a struggle, adventure always feels so good!
2) Wilderness Willpower – We all yearn for a sense of fulfillment in whatever we do. It begins with goal setting and slowly working our way to meet that goal. The simplest analogy for this is climbing a mountain or a hilltop. You know the way is going to be tough on you physically yet you keep pushing yourself and going at it. Eventually it is mental prowess that you are running on. Everytime you put yourself in such situations where you have to rely on your mental fortitude, your brain builds new circuits in the prefrontal cortex which helps you navigate even the most complex scenarios.The outdoors is naturally a great way to build more of it.
3) Finding Focus – Most of the times there are so many things happening around us simultaneously that we can’t keep track of any of them. This leads to lack of focus in general. When you are faced with climbing a rock face however, you are forced to bring all attention to the rock and your body. It is a moment which you zone into, finding the focus needed to do the task in front of you much like many other outdoor activities such as rock climbing or rappelling. This serves as a great mental practice which can help imbibe the good habit of shutting out the unnecessary noise and seeing what you want to see with clarity.
4) Rejuvenate – To create new perspectives, we need to shed the old ones. We need to create more space in the memories of our brain. In today’s time however, we have the ease of access to all the memories and information from a single touch on our smartphone screens at all times. While it is convenient, it is also increasing our dependency on technology. When was the last time you went somewhere without network signal and wifi? Or the last time your source of information to something interesting was a story told over a bonfire? When you step into nature and outdoors you are forced to disconnect from everyday life and reconnect with what is around you in the present moment. It allows the time and space to boost your brain and body’s capacities and reignite the spirit of enterprise in you.
5) Overcome Fear- We are all scared of something or the other. It may be looking down from a dizzying height, the gushing force of the waters you’re stream running in or the fear of falling while climbing up a rock. The outdoors gives you a chance to face those fears and see them for what they are. This confrontation will encourage you to accept your fear which becomes the first step in overcoming it. When you step over to the other side, the sense of courage you feel is going to stay with you forever. This can be applied to your everyday life scenarios where you choose to take a stand for yourself even if that scares you.
So the next time you feel like you are plateauing in life and plan on to visit a touristy place like Nainital, ditch the crowd and go for camping to gain a completely different perspective about Nainital!
For those who want to overwhelm the wildlife enthusiast in them, head out for the tiger sightseeing at Ranthambore with a twist of relaxing camp stay in wilderness instead of the hotel stay!
Or if you want to admire the panoramic view of snow peaks from Shimla, stay in an apple orchard of Mashobra instead of getting stuck in Mall road traffic, for we all need to explore the hidden gems of nature in order to find our inner peace!