This is a collaborative post in partnership with BetterHelp.
Adolescence, dating, and nature. At first glance, these three topics may seem to have nothing to do with each other. Adolescence and dating, sure, but nature?
There is a link, though. Read on to learn about the unexpected way that nature can play a part in adolescents and teenagers having successful dating experiences, and why time in nature is a critical part of adolescent health.
What is adolescence?
Adolescence is the period of time between childhood and adulthood. It spans the ages of ten to nineteen. As you may know, many changes occur during this phase of life; nobody comes out of adolescence the same person they were going into it. It’s a one-of-a-kind part of human development and comes with a variety of challenges and opportunities for growth.
During this period, adolescents go through extremely rapid growth, not just physically, but also psychosocially and cognitively. All of this growth has major effects on the way that adolescents think, feel, interact, and make decisions.
The average age adolescents start dating
One of the big changes that adolescents experience is the beginning of their dating lives. On average, girls begin dating at age 12.5, while boys start dating at 13.5. That may seem young, but relationships at this age often consist of texting back and forth, hanging out as part of a larger group, or going on supervised dates. What we more often think of as traditional dating often begins closer to the age of 16, although it can vary quite a bit from person to person. (Click here to learn more about dating.)
Components of healthy relationships
As adolescents begin to date, it’s crucial for them to understand what goes into a healthy relationship. What may surprise them is that the relationship is not only about the way two people feel about each other. Each individual’s mental health also plays a huge role in determining whether or not a relationship is healthy. And not only is good mental health important to having a healthy relationship, but healthy relationships are crucial for good mental health. It goes both ways.
Other components of a healthy relationship include:
- Mutual respect and trust
- Good communication
How nature can support teen mental health
Today’s adolescents are experiencing more mental health issues than ever before. Social media, current events, and other stressors have taken a notable toll. As discussed above, good mental health is a vital part of healthy adolescent (and adult) relationships. So how can today’s teens improve their mental health, their relationships, and their lives in general?
It may sound simple, but spending more time in nature can have a hugely beneficial impact. In the modern world, kids and teens spend far more time staring at screens than they do outdoors. But spending even a few minutes outside each day can really make a difference.
Here are some of the amazing advantages of spending more time outdoors:
- Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
- Feelings of awe and gratitude that lead to positive social behaviours
- Regulation of nervous system arousal and mood disturbance caused by excessive screen time
- Restoration of mental energy
- Natural relief from symptoms of mental fatigue and ADHD
- Growth of confidence and resilience
- Increased physical health that positively impacts mental health
- Better sleep
- Higher Vitamin D levels that come with a variety of physical health benefits
The relationship between adolescence, dating, and nature may not immediately be clear, but as you can see, the three topics are related. Adolescence is the time during which most people begin dating, and for them to have healthy relationships, it’s essential for them to have good mental health themselves.
Today’s adolescents tend not to spend much time outdoors, but making it a priority to enjoy time outside can have incredibly positive effects on their mental health. As mental health improves, it creates a ripple effect: relationships also improve, and so does life in general. And remember, this doesn’t just apply to teens! Kids, adolescents, and adults can all benefit from spending time in nature.