Students can find reprieve in outdoor activity

Nature has healing properties that can help students alleviate stress

Students experience a plethora of problems on a daily basis. Instead of facing these problems, however, they choose to partake in destructive habits. They fail to recognize that they have effective coping methods at their disposal. 

The simple solution to these problems is something we often take for granted — nature.

Exploring the healing properties in nature is a way to benefit those struggling with mental health issues. 

Living in today’s society, it is easy to get submerged and distracted by a materialistic mindset, and we can forget the importance of taking care of our mental health.

College students typically turn to potentially harmful methods of coping with their problems by drinking and partying, which inhibits their senses and prevents them from facing their conflicts. 

However, nature-oriented activities promote a healthier lifestyle and provide a more effective way for students to manage an overwhelming college experience. 

To fully understand how to connect with nature, you have to remember that you are a part of nature. Everything in your body is made up of the same elements that make up the planet we live in, which is why nature has so many healing properties. 

A study published in the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that “forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.” 

Along with these healing properties, the study showed that nature can greatly reduce high levels of stress. 

While the City of Phoenix may not provide the nurturing forest environment that this study proposes, it is still home to many natural attractions including hiking trail systems, Camelback Mountain and the Tonto National Forest.

Nature is a great way for college students to alleviate some of the intense stressors they face daily. 

“(Nature) can be very helpful dealing with mental health,” Dr. Scott Maymon, a naturopathic physician at Pure Body Health, said. “Allowing yourself to get out, get some sun and exploring can really benefit someone looking to improve mental health by getting nutrients and vitamins from the earth. It can be therapeutic to someone experiencing mental health problems.” 

ASU offers students nature-oriented clubs such as the Outdoors Club, where students can go hiking, canoeing, scuba diving and much more. These organizations can help reduce students' stress and can act as a positive emotional outlet in lieu of unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

“See, the thing with stress in college students that I’ve seen is that we have to find the source of their stress and evaluate it before we can begin to address it,” Maymon said. "There are healing properties and relaxation techniques in outdoor environments; however, they need to identify where their stress is coming from to begin to benefit from any kind of natural medicine.”

There are stressors that students face on a daily basis including academics, social tension and homesickness. These can all be alleviated, in part, by exploring nature.

Being in nature also allows room for self-reflection that can also be therapeutic to students. 

Stepping away from studying and partying can be extremely remedial to college students experiencing stress, mental health issues or those just looking to relax. 

Those suffering from stress and other mental health issues should use the Earth and its natural resources to help alleviate daily pressures. 


Reach the columnist at awarshaw@asu.edu or follow @abbey_warshaw on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.Want to join the conversation? 

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