Building resilience in the great outdoors

Building resilience in the great outdoors

Building resilience in the great outdoors

Heading out of doors not only provides a change of scenery and the chance to enjoy nature. The outdoors can also be an effective classroom and teacher, providing opportunities for self-improvement and teaching us how to handle challenges and weather life’s storms.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to handle setbacks; to cope with stressful circumstances, trauma and change; to manage feelings of uncertainty and anxiety; to adapt to challenges, face adversities and overcome anything that life throws at you. In short, resilience is the ability to bounce back.

Resilience is not an aspect of a person’s make-up that is set in stone; we are not necessarily born with our resilience intact. Resilience can be developed and improved, and developing resilience is a continuous process.

Key skills needed to be resilient include self-esteem, social skills, optimism, problem-solving skills, self-control, self-belief, perseverance, independence and realistic expectations.

Why head outdoors to develop resilience?

Whether you choose adventurous outdoor activities such as rock climbing or mountaineering, simply wish to test your swimming mettle in the ocean, enjoy walking trails in the forest, or let the kids play among the rocks at the beach, outdoor activities offer unique settings for learning.

  • The outdoors provides a dramatic contrast to normal learning settings such as classrooms, making outdoor learning activities more motivating and giving it more impact
  • It allows learning through direct, hands-on experience
  • It provides a learning context that stresses adventure
  • It is fun, which helps to build a positive outlook
  • It provides an opportunity to enjoy the natural world
  • It allows active learning – learning through what you do, what you encounter and what you discover
  • Outdoor physical challenges push you beyond your comfort zone and test your physical limits
  • In overcoming physical challenges, you gain a sense of achievement which builds self-esteem and self-respect
  • The outdoors provide alternative learning experiences that could otherwise be overlooked or dismissed, and could even spark new interests and hobbies.