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The Demon Tattler

The student news site of Santa Fe High School

The Demon Tattler

The student news site of Santa Fe High School

The Demon Tattler

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Nature > Social Media = Improved Mental Health

Nature+%3E+Social+Media+%3D+Improved+Mental+Health

According to the trend-tracking firm Exploding Topics, the average American teen spends seven hours and 22 minutes looking at screens each day – 43 percent of their waking hours. 

But there are exceptions: Santa Fe High seniors Kaya Schlesinger and Greely Miller have both resisted the time trap by spending time in nature instead.

Kaya took her first step away from social media by deleting TikTok and Snapchat last summer, which she claims changed her life for the better. 

“It helped me focus less on others around me and their opinions,” Kaya says. “Before I deleted those apps [I] was very addicted to my phone, and deleting those apps has made me aware of how much I was on my phone.” She says that her mentality has “shifted from phone addiction to being more aware.” 

Spending more time in nature also helped her to realize that there’s more to life than a screen in front of her. “It made me value the little things in life, like going on a walk,” she says. “A lot of people don’t realize the amount of time they have when they’re not on their phone.” 

Kaya continues, “Being on your phone is not real. You can get lost in that, but you can get lost in nature in a different sense – in a healing way.”

Research has shown that going outside and exploring nature has health benefits. According to the National Library of Medicine, interacting with nature brings positive effects: “Nature has a significant impact on health. Previous reviews have identified the overall health effects of nature on a variety of health outcomes including physical, mental, social, and cognitive health.”

This article also states, “Findings clearly demonstrate the benefits of nature interaction for decreasing ADD/ADHD symptoms.” Not only does nature help decrease the symptoms of ADHD, but it also helps cope with anxiety and depression. 

According to the website of Newport Academy, a teen mental health resource, a study that had university students spend two nights in a forest found that they had lower levels of cortisol (a hormone released when stressed) than those who spent two nights in a city. The research concluded that “being outside in nature actually lowers levels of the stress-associated chemical cortisol.”

Greely Miller, an SFHS senior who enjoys spending time outdoors, says, “I like to disconnect from social media by spending time in nature. I spend lots of time in the mountains skiing and biking.” He says being disconnected from social media makes him feel “energized and more productive.” He adds, “I think myself and many of my peers would be much happier people if we were to completely disconnect from social media, but unfortunately it is so ingrained in our culture and difficult to rid ourselves of.” 

Our generation has become addicted to our smartphones and research has shown that there are side effects of being constantly on a phone. According to VeryWell Mind, “Some negative effects that might happen include changes in cognitive ability, problems with social or emotional skills, problems sleeping, and mental laziness.” 

However, there is a cure to our phone addiction: nature. According to Newport Academy, “Unplugged time in nature has been shown to regulate mood disturbance and nervous system arousal caused by too much time in front of screens.” The article also mentions, “One study found that young people’s mental energy bounced back even when they simply looked at pictures of nature.”

Mr. Langley, an English teacher at SFHS, created the school’s hiking club to share his love of nature. He says, “I like nature for its unparalleled beauty and transformative abilities. It’s like walking into a painting that might kill you if you’re not careful enough.” His love for nature came from his childhood in Michigan. “I grew up on a lake in Michigan, which I miss every day,” he explains. “I feel a vital connection to water, which is one reason why my car has so many miles on it.” 

Mr. Langley says he enjoys how nature can take away the stress that builds up from life. “Whenever life’s challenges turn the weeks into a grind and affect my outlook, then I know it’s time to go hiking or biking or just drive out some place where there are more trees than people.”

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