From Instagram to Xboxes, at home or in the classroom, we live in an age when our external environment mixes compelling but competing demands for our attention. Rarely are people given the time to reflect, imagine, or daydream. Teens, adolescents, and young adults are forever in the situation of deciding how much attention to give to self-generated thought or to information from the external social or physical environment. By changing the balance of attention to accommodate more self-generated thought through outdoor therapy programs, like the one at Pacific Quest, students may actually get far closer to realizing the dreams they most want for themselves.
Did you know that the content of daydreams plays a big but hidden role in emotional well-being? People who report the most positive daydreams experience the lowest levels of negative emotions and depression. Positive constructive daydreaming is when teens and adolescents enjoy vivid imagery and fantasy and use daydreaming for plotting out their future. Daydreaming helps consolidate memories and synthesize disparate ideas and plans yielding a greater sense of identity and personal meaning. Because of this, healthy social and emotional functioning and the ability to make meaning of life experiences rely on constructive internal reflection and daydreaming. What’s more, studies show that daydreaming can enhance self-control and creativity.
Social media, computer, and mindless entertainment – even rote classroom demands – have the potential to rob children of opportunities to reflect and build personal meaning. Such activities focus mental resources on the concrete, physical, and immediate social world, fostering a more superficial self. Internet addiction or overuse can hinder creative or deep thought and encourage people to not deal with any personal issues because they have little time to think constructively.
By turning off the computers and rethinking the way they interact with technology and other people, teens and adolescents can make the most of their mental hardware and become smarter in other areas. Turning attention away from the external world can also help young adults to tap into their wellspring of creativity.
Expert recommendations on how to get young people thinking and daydreaming in a healthy manner include:
- Nonverbal activities: playing guitar, cooking, running, playing team sports
- Writing: journaling or creative writing offer a chance to reflect and increase self-awareness.
- Group work: an opportunity to hear and debate other points of view expands our thinking and intelligence
Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy
The entire Pacific Quest wilderness therapy process is one of mindful interaction with the world around us. Mindful processing is enhanced through activities that awaken awareness, intentional silent times such as journaling, development of observation skills, and attention to detail and focus during all activities from exercise to daily chores and therapeutic groups. Here, students get away from sources of internet addiction and get involved in mindful activities.
To recognize what a person is capable of achieving intellectually and creatively requires engaging that person in meaningful activity and allowing time for deep reflection and cultivation of expertise in the value domain. Pacific Quest incorporates horticulture therapy into its wellness program. The garden work allows ample opportunity for daydreaming even though students are also working.
The gardens at Pacific Quest offer a living example of what growth looks like, creating a culture where words match with action and empowers students with life skills that can be practiced beyond gardening and Pacific Quest. Gardening at Pacific Quest is a group activity, which supports critical thinking. Students provide feedback on each other’s work and hear information about themselves from their peers. Outside perspectives give insight, especially when we get a chance to think about that information.
Horticultural therapy utilizes gardening activities in conjunction with traditional counseling techniques to meet specific therapeutic treatment goals, placing the client in a caregiving role, and creating an experiential environment that is growth focused and life-affirming. Horticultural therapy is a client-centered treatment model that seeks to enhance social, cognitive, and physiological functioning with the primary goal of improving health and inspiring motivation for change.
Whole-person wellness addresses all aspects of the body, mind, and emotions. Students are better able to feel the results of positive change and therefore create an internal desire to carry new found wellness techniques beyond Pacific Quest. The process of change and growth that they witness with the wilderness therapy program provides Pacific Quest adolescents and young adults at Pacific Quest an opportunity to look more closely at the change and growth taking root within themselves.
Pacific Quest wilderness therapy can be great opportunity to help troubled adolescents and young adults by getting them away from sources of their media and internet addiction and giving them constructive activities and plenty of time to daydream or think about their lives.