Opinion: benefits of the great outdoors

A way to beat the back-to-school blues


Richard N. Clark IV, Editor in Chief 2019-20.

By Richard N. Clark IV, Multimedia Director

Richard N. Clark IV is the multimedia director for The Easterner. The opinion expressed in this article is his own, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Easterner’s editorial board.

With the rise of the internet, people have more access to information and are able to connect more than ever before, but with this technology has come an excess of information that makes it difficult to find clarity and focus in one’s daily life. The benefits of being outside for our emotional, mental and physical well-being are unmatched.

All too often, with our over-scheduled lives, it is so easy to fall in the trap of accepting our daily routine without questioning ourselves why we do what we do.

Being in any outdoor environment allows our imagination to break away from our conditioned lifestyle, and liberate us from our societal worries.

“The outdoors provides unpredictability, and I think that’s an important quality of life,” Associate Director of Campus Recreation Chris Hoppe said. “I think that we as humans are inherently drawn to schedules and routines… we have adapted to a point of being over routined and over programmed to a consistent way of life.”

Not questioning ourselves and our identity can lead to a mundane life, simply walking through the motions without finding any sense of a greater purpose or fulfillment.

While it is not an official diagnosis, the term nature deficit disorder refers to the behavioral issues which come from being outside less, especially in children. The term was coined by Richard Louv, an American author and journalist.

There are many reasons why depression, divorce and suicide rates have increased in recent years, and I am not saying that technology is directly responsible, but the way we have integrated it into our lives may be.

In a 17-year period alone, the total suicide rate increased 28 percent from 10.5 to 13.4 per 100,000 in a survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

At a time where it is so easy to instantly message anyone across the globe, it is just as easy to not make an effort to genuinely connect and try to understand someone in person.

It is no wonder we are seeing these increasing rates.

Instinctively, humans have evolved to find the negatives in any situation, as a way to improve ourselves, but now with people constantly comparing themselves to the perfectly curated Instagram account, there is little room for error. We are our own worst critic.

As the late Albert Einstein said, change is the only constant in life.

The sooner we accept what we cannot control and focus on doing what we can, our lives become much more meaningful. You’ll no longer expend energy being upset about what you don’t have or what you haven’t accomplished yet, and make room to enjoy the things in your present moment.

“I personally find it a time to put away your phones, your computers and just like be one with yourself, with your friends and just appreciate the beauty outside,” Senior Monica Mack said. “I find it very calming.”

No matter if it is playing sports outside with your friends, going for a hike or an extreme down-slope skiing session, the lessons you will learn about the complexities of life and how to enjoy the unexpected, are priceless.

If you are looking to explore more in the area, look to join a club or sign up for a trip with EPIC Adventures.

They are located in the lower level of the URC across the ice-rink front desk and are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.