Happiness is … a Wilderness Adventure
We’re celebrating the International Day of Happiness by sharing good times in the Wilderness!
Two pilot studies investigating the potential mental health benefits of wilderness adventures have found that participants reported an increase in happiness, life satisfaction and self-belief, as well as a decrease in stress. Their research specifically recorded these four measures of mental health:
Subjective well-being: After successfully completing their outdoor adventure, participants report higher levels of momentary happiness and life satisfaction. These related to ‘mastery experiences’, the beauty of the natural environment, social support received from the group and a sense of achievement.
Self-belief: Higher levels of ‘self-efficacy’ were enhanced by feedback and reflection allowing participants to fully realise and internalise the meaning of their wilderness experience.
Mindfulness: A heightened awareness and acceptance of present-moment experiences were attributed the novel, unpredictable environment and the challenging tasks to be completed; as well as long distance walking, which involves repetitive movements, regular breathing and a steady alertness.
Stress: Lower levels of stress were recorded relating to the troubles and demands of normal daily life. However the ‘stress’ caused by the outdoor adventure itself was regarded as a positive experience, because emotional and instrumental support was available.
Read the full article in the Journal of Adolescence Volume 49, June 2016, Pages 105-114