Getting adolescents involved in extracurricular activities aids their mental health
Updated: Nov 20, 2020
In today’s troubled times, our adolescents are facing even more challenges than their preceding generations of adolescents. The reasons range from financial or family crises to sudden changes in their environment or lifestyle. Irrespective of the cause, there’s a lot of negative impact of these issues on our growing children. Anxiety and stress can play havoc with their mental well-being.
It is said that teenagers who less time in front of the screens, balancing it with extracurricular activities such as art and sports, tend to show a higher level of resilience to anxiety, depression, and disruptive behaviors.
Although some forms of screen time can be great to keep in touch with friends and family members online, there are downsides to being unable to see these people in person. With cell phones and social media taking over our lives, depression, and suicidal thoughts have doubled in the youth over the past decade.
As per a new study conducted by the researchers at the University of British Columbia, adolescents who spent less than two hours per day of recreational screen time experienced higher levels of satisfaction and optimism. With reduced screen time, lower levels of anxiety, and symptoms of depression were observed.
Mental health problems eventually percolate into their academic performance due to loss of interest and motivation. The family and school play a critical role in handling this delicate period of transitioning into an adult.
Extracurricular activities can be instrumental in improved self-confidence. Adolescents who achieve success in activities that they are passionate about, get an extra boost of confidence. This also opens them up to learning new skills and taking up new challenges in life. Also, with every extracurricular activity, they engage in, there’s a fresh opportunity for them to expand their social network and improve their social skills. The sense of community that this network could provide can also give them a new sense of belongingness and security.
It is a known fact that using muscles helps the body keep calm, as does partaking in cardiovascular exercise bring down the adrenalin rush that heightened anxiety causes leading to improved mood. Activities that involve hand-eye coordination enhances concentration skills. All three of these are part of most team sports, which again evokes a sense of social-connectedness and belonging that is beneficial to the brain.
Each growing child has their own set of interests. While some may not enjoy participating in team sports, there are other options that they can choose from. For instance, art, dance, yoga, or simply getting their hands dirty at gardening! All of these activities have excellent therapeutic benefits that can significantly enhance the mental health and well-being of adolescents.