Emerging Perspectives: Student Chapters

Humans as Part of Nature: The Benefits of Time Spent Outdoors for Mental Health

Britton Jennings

In the summer of 2019, I was a high-school junior going to be a senior the coming year, going on a SCUBA trip out of state with my specialized environmental science class so that I could finish up my certification. This time in life at the end of high school but before college is widely regarded as the most fun and free time for a young person. A time where you’re so close to the end of the life that your parents and the state have laid out for you and still far from the stresses of choosing for yourself in life and dealing with the repercussions of those choices. This expectation was far from where I was at that point in my life…

…That night I slept and again I woke up worse for wear but that’s where the cycle of mental degradation seemed to stop. I went out that day with the rest of my class to get our certifications to Mermet Springs, an old rock quarry in Illinois that got filled with water and a bunch of props from movies and turned into a diving location. On the first day, I had fun for the first time in a month at least. I got to focus on something entirely detached from my sad life at home. I got to be outside for a full day learning how to properly use the apparatus, I got to swim for hours, interact with and pet fish, and I think most importantly I got to spend time in a serene outdoor environment surrounded by fish, massive trees, and my classmates that were acting surprisingly kind to me, even inviting me out to dinner and to swim with them in the hotel pool after that day’s certification work. Even the guy I was rooming with was being nice to me and asking my opinion on things on tv. That night, I went to bed actually feeling better than the day before and finally ending or at least taking a break from the month-long cycle that had been wearing me out so heavily…


Find the rest of this chapter in Emerging Perspectives on Religion and Environmental Values in America HERE.


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Religion and Environmental Values in America Copyright © 2019 by Britton Jennings is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.