During the adolescent years, teens rarely take into consideration their physical health and even less so on mental health. They know they are experiencing a wide range of emotions but are unclear on how to sort through them all in a positive and effective manner. This can lead to depression, anxiety, or injurious practices such as self-harm. Without support, these inner concerns grow into a permanent fixture in the mind. This “mental overload” is often displayed as a short temper or a complete withdraw. To deal with the reality, adolescents will turn to negative habits to keep coping instead of focusing on the solution.
Learning What Healthy Means
The word healthy is exactly what it means, good health. This is an umbrella term used when referencing our habits, yet rarely seen as a positive mental tool. As children, we are encouraged to eat our vegetables at dinner and play outside for exercise. But, when it comes to checking in on our mental health, the questions are not answered.
Adolescents are especially susceptible to experiencing mental challenges, as the brain has not fully developed and does not have the right information to change the emotion. During these years, adolescents seek out the easiest solution to the “problem” and rarely deem their choices as unacceptable.
To better understand what healthy habits look like, we must first acknowledge and recognize the negative outcomes that are displayed by children. While some behaviors are more presently displayed, the silent ones need attention as well.
Seeing the Signs
It is no mystery that adolescents are emotional. Everything they experience is felt and not fully understood. Maybe they broke up with their high school partner, and they cry for a few weeks. This may seem unreasonable to an adult but likely understood. It is when the crying does not stop, that the parent or caregiver needs to pay closer attention. Below are some common signs that more is going on emotionally for your adolescent:
- “Just leave me alone!” – When an adolescent starts using this sentence, it does not necessarily mean that your child is pulling away. It is a coping method for them to sort out emotions, out of fear of judgment or rejection. By keeping it to themselves, they nurture the idea that “no one cares” and struggle to ask for emotional assistance. When the solitude becomes consistent, this is a sign that more is going on with your adolescent.
- “You can’t stop me!” – This is a statement that often causes friction between families. The adolescent sticks to their judgment and the parent is challenged. This can be a pivotal moment for the relationship. If the adolescent is older and more physically fit, the caregiver can become less demanding out of fear for their safety. By doing this, the adolescent takes the control of the outcome. While it is perfectly normal for an adolescent to question authority briefly, it becomes a negative sign when they ignore all demands.
- “You don’t understand me!” – This statement is often used by adolescents when they are experiencing vast emotions at once. The mind is already overwhelmed with finding solutions to the feelings, leaving nothing left to express the discouragement. This leads to frustration and more short tempers. With both sides defending their understanding of the moment in a harsh environment, an adolescent reacts with emotions instead of a balanced decision.
- “I hate you!” – These three words can sting the most to a parent or caregiver. No one wants to hear that their child hates them. Adolescents use this statement to reflect their uncertainties. They are uncertain of how you will react and uncertain about how they feel about you as a person. When used sparingly, these words are seen as a learning lesson. When the proclamation becomes a daily statement, this is a sign that it is time to listen more closely.
How blueFire Can Help
At blueFire, we offer clients a chance to step back from the stimulants of their everyday life. We believe that by engaging in an outdoor style of living, adolescents have a chance to calm their negative emotions and focus on the positive aspects of their life. We help clients prioritize healthy habits through:
- Sleep maintenance
- Technology-free living
- Healthy eating
- Daily exercise
- Daily therapeutic practices
Why Each Aspect is Important for Mental Health
- Well-conditioned rest – According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the average adolescent should aim for nine to twelve hours of sleep per night. However, when a teen is experiencing high stress or anxiety, these hours become restless. Over time, this poor sleeping habit becomes a stressor instead of an asset.
At blueFire, we believe that good sleep is a top priority. By eliminating outside stimulants such as electronics, adolescents have a chance to mentally sort through the day’s activities without extra distractions. By keeping a healthy schedule of regular exercise and restful nights, your child learns how to put the day to rest and focus on tomorrow.
- Phone-free zone – A recent study conducted by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that helps families navigate media, reported, “US teens spend an average of more than seven hours per day on screen media for entertainment purposes.” This does not include online school or homework. Overall, an adolescent spends more than half their waking hours engaging in media distractions, leaving little time to focus on personal mental health.
BlueFire can offer a positive change. Clients spend the majority of their time outside in nature, away from screens and technology. While there is an adjustment period, most adolescents find that they often do not miss the impulse to reach for their phones. By keeping the focus on healthy daily activities and wilderness therapy, adolescents learn to engage with others instead of their screen.
- Wholesome diet – In today’s market, fast food has become the number one meal in the United States. With unlimited choices and restricted schedules, families are more prone to purchasing these meals as opposed to cooking dinner at home. This leads to unhealthy habits and overall poor health. Current research has concluded that adolescents need more nutrition during their formidable years. By removing the availability of prepared meals, adolescents learn to prepare and cook their meals in a group setting.
Each campsite has all the necessities for cooking healthy options. Clients are expected to share in the preparation and clean up of each meal. Utilizing a peer group setting teaches each child how to have pride in their contribution. Not only does this give them the feeling of a good accomplishment, but teaches them lifelong healthy eating habits.
- Keeping up with calisthenics – The CDC recommends at least sixty minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day for ages six to seventeen years. While this guide was easily accomplished during the traditional school year, with recess and after-school activities, it all changed during the pandemic. Between adjusting to online education and the removal of in-person events, children are experiencing anxiety and depression-like never before. Our outdoor program gives clients the opportunity to focus on the physical aspect of nature through consistent adventure activities.
At blueFire, each week is filled with multiple hikes and endless adventure. Each adolescent has a chance to plan, execute and contribute to special hikes. From meal planning to map out a route is all encouraged by staff to help clients engage. With healthy meals and robust exercise each day, your adolescent will feel more naturally tired. These activities also provide a great way for teens to connect with their peers over shared memories.
- Wilderness therapy – Wilderness therapy provides clients with a new environment in which they can identify their challenges and learn new skills to overcome them. In traditional therapy, sessions are in an office and time is limited. With wilderness therapy, our support staff is available to help your child around the clock. Clients have the support they need to work through mental health challenges and learn healthy habits to improve their lives.
At blueFire, our staff believes in each child’s ability to reach their goals. Our dedicated therapists will encourage your child to use their own strength, both mentally and physically, to feel and do their best each day. With daily support, this habit becomes natural to your child, and they learn how to give themselves the healthiest gift of all, self-care.
blueFire Wilderness Can Help Your Family
blueFire Wilderness Therapy is an adventure-based therapeutic treatment program for adolescents ages 11-17 who are struggling with depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors. Our program removes clients from the distractions or stressors of their current environment and places them in the tranquil healing environment of the great outdoors. Our clients are allowed to focus on their individual healing in a supportive environment. blueFire Wilderness gives clients the tools and skills they need to heal from unhealthy behaviors, and live happy, healthy lives.
For more information about blueFire Wilderness, please contact us over the phone at 1-844-413-1999. We can help your family today!