Why adventuring together is good for a healthy mind
Adventuring in a group provides opportunities to connect with a like-minded community. But, why is connection so good for our mental health? Humans are wired to belong. From an evolutionary standpoint, it has kept us alive. And, when we are physically safe we can work towards more psychologically complex pursuits, such as connecting to our values and developing authentic relationships. Being part of a tribe where we feel safe also allows us to pursue self-exploration that can ultimately improve our confidence and self-esteem.
Many of us initially seek out a community because we want to surround ourselves with folks who share our values. Finding people who value emotional and physical wellness or have an appreciation of nature, if that is what we also value, can feel immediately rewarding. Being part of a tribe means having someone to share our journey with and reflect on how it is changing us all. And, being in a group that supports us as we work towards valued living increases our likelihood of staying connected to our values. Dr. Russ Harris, a psychotherapist, shares that when we are committed to valued living, we experience less frustration and negative mental health symptoms.
Group adventures can also help us build empathy for others, a trait that has been shown to increase meaningful connections. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and envision what they are going through. Imagine sharing in the challenges that a hike provides, for example. When we adventure with our tribe, we struggle alongside friends. This is a chance to learn to “walk with” others, both literally and metaphorically. When we become more sensitive to the needs of others and more open-minded to stories that are different from our own, our relationships grow and become more authentic. Authenticity leads to vulnerability. And social work researcher, Dr. Brene Brown, talks about the power that vulnerability creates, a power to feel worthy and loved. A power to believe “I am enough.”
Speaking of vulnerability, when we feel physically and emotionally safe within our tribe we are more likely to push ourselves outside our comfort zones. This creates chances to find out what we’re made of! Through self-exploration we learn more about ourselves, master our fears, and improve our confidence and self-esteem. When we summit that mountain (or complete that bike ride or swim or 5K) with our tribe, the cheers we receive at the top lead to feelings of joy, pride, and accomplishment. Successful feats provide evidence that we can use to counter negative thoughts and self-doubts when they surface. For example, when our brains tell us “We can’t do anything right” we have data to remind ourselves all that we have achieved.
But, the struggle to find a tribe when we are all grown up is real. Opportunities to connect can dwindle as our focus shifts to career and family. Luckily, Women on Adventures provides an avenue to locate like-minded ladies willing to give adventure a try! Consider these additional ideas for connecting with a tribe:
Search for online support and Meet Up groups. There may be more adventure-minded folks in your geographical area than you realize.
Make your wishes known on social media. You may fill a need for friends looking for a tribe, too.
Attend classes in your community. Outdoor and recreation retailers, such as REI, state and local parks, recreation centers, and school districts’ continuing education classes are a few places to start. Using Groupon and other online retailers offer up adventures at a discount.
Happy trails and cheers to new adventures!