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The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

Go Touch Grass

Spending more time outside can improve the mental health of many high school students
Courtesy of Kaspar Warnock

As our society has progressed towards mass use of technology and in-home work spaces, many people have shifted away from spending time outdoors. This has affected all groups of people, but has had the most impact on youth and teenagers, even bringing about the term ‘screenagers.’ The American Psychological Association stated that statistically, the more time spent looking at a screen directly increases how much stress and anxiety someone experiences in their life. People often forget that there are many benefits to spending time in nature, such as improved mental clarity and perceived value for everything in life as well as being generally happier and oftentimes participating in more activities that promote physical health.

Especially since the pandemic, the way our modern world runs has been shifting almost entirely towards technology and its ease of use in every single part of our life. You might realize that throughout many of your days, more and more time is allotted towards looking at a screen. Ease of access brings screens to our work, school, communication, and entertainment making it hard to not always be looking at a screen. Teenagers are seen as extra susceptible to this due to increased usage of screens both at school and at home. Many times I’ve found myself wasting hours of my day away sitting on my phone or a computer watching tv shows or maybe playing games, often doing nothing physically or emotionally productive. Although it’s not entirely my fault, I’ve grown up in a way that promotes screen usage. Devices are heavily marketed to youth and parents have been taking their kids outside less and less each year. Our human nature of being outdoors and experiencing the world as it was created is being lost.

A study logged in the National Library of Medicine about relations between time spent outdoors and mental health tells us that regardless of quality, any time spent outdoors has a direct relation with perceived value within nature. People that tend to spend more time outside find that they end up valuing the less materialistic aspects of life. Rather than sitting inside on your phone or playing a video game, you might find yourself wanting to go out for a walk, run, swim, hike, or anything that involves the outdoors and/or physical activity. 

“I feel more grounded, and less caught up in the nonsensical parts of my life,” said Jaden Radatti, a Summit High junior that spends the majority of his time rock climbing and napping.

From past personal experiences, I’ve used the outdoors as a coping mechanism whenever I’ve been in a bad state of mind. When I go out and take a breather, whether I walk to a sunset viewpoint or just lay down in a field of grass and listen to the sounds of wind, I end up finding my mind to be quiet no matter how intense my negative emotions just were. Spending time outdoors never fails to help people calm down, or to take focus off of bad feelings or boredom. 

“Personally, if I’m inside [then I] just feel confined, I feel less motivated when I’m inside all the time,” explained Jamie Brock, a faculty member at Summit High who spends almost all of her free time doing an activity outside. Next time you’re feeling confined by the walls of your house, or perhaps when you’re in a bad mood from something negative that just happened, take a step outside and try to forget about the stressors of life. Leave your phone behind, and choose instead to focus on the beauty of our existence as a whole and the clarity that can bring to you.

The American Psychological Association also says that evidence shows there is a direct positive correlation between time spent outside and overall happiness and positive attitude. I’ve seen firsthand how many highschool students that spend a lot of their time inside end up experiencing a lot more stress concerning school and social life.

“I’ve felt that going outside more has made me just feel better about everything, I’m generally happier,” said Trenton Ewert, a Summit High junior. In my personal experiences, spending lots more time in nature within the past couple of years has drastically changed my overall happiness, mental and physical health, and outlook on life.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a high school student or an adult, you should be trying to spend a good amount of time outside. Whether or not you feel bogged down by technology, putting everything aside and enjoying the bliss of nature will help you to reset, and put into perspective just how heavy that phone in your hand really is. You might find that the earth has much more to offer than the constricts of buildings and society and the digital world.

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