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ADHD: Embracing the Great Outdoors

Those of you reading this will know that there is no quick fix for ADHD. Even those who have witnessed the benefits of healthy sleeping habits, exercise and medication will know there are still many challenges that get in the way. With that said, one of the most underrated means of alleviating symptoms is the exposure to nature and the great outdoors. There is plenty of research to back this up. A recent study carried out in the Netherlands found a strong link between nature and improved ADHD symptoms, specifically among children. The results suggest that natural spaces provide a consistent positive environment for children with ADHD.

Why is this the case? And why specifically so for children with ADHD?

The first thing to realise is that nature possesses an incredible ability to soothe the restless minds of children who require constant stimulation. The serene sights, harmonious sounds, and earthy scents found in natural environments offer a therapeutic escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Unlike the overstimulating urban environments, natural settings offer a gentle yet stimulating atmosphere that encourages children to direct their attention without being overwhelmed by excessive distractions. On a personal note, I can still remember from my early childhood years the smell of petrichor providing a calming effect as I stepped out into the garden.

Another factor to consider it that spending time outdoors and physical activity are two sides of the same coin - especially when it comes to ADHD. Being in nature helps to channel our excess energy in constructive ways. The great outdoors offers a plethora of opportunities for energetic exploration: whether it's climbing trees, running through meadows, or participating in outdoor sports. Even playing with a skipping rope for a few minutes each day has its benefits. Engaging in activities in natural surroundings allows children to expend their energy while promoting the release of endorphins—the 'feel-good' hormones that enhance our mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It's important to note that the benefits are even greater if they coincide with your child’s character strengths.

Another benefit of the great outdoors is that nature serves as a playground for curiosity and imagination, making it an ideal environment for children with ADHD to thrive. My previous article on the philosopher Rousseau provides a real-life account of this…

The diversity of flora and fauna, the changing seasons, and the intricate patterns found in natural landscapes inspire awe and wonder. Encouraging children to explore nature fosters their innate curiosity, engages their senses, and stimulates their creativity. As a result, the great outdoors helps to form new ideas, and generates a deep appreciation for the natural world - attributes that are invaluable in managing ADHD from day to day.

Nature possesses an extraordinary ability to nurture and empower children with ADHD. Its calming influence, outlet for physical energy, stimulation of curiosity and respite from technological overload make it an invaluable resource for supporting your child’s well-being.


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