The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

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The Importance of Unplugging for Mental Health

Kira Lancaster

Getting outside every day or a few times a week is one of the healthiest habits students can have, yet it is often underrated and neglected. Many teenagers in this generation sink into the depths of homework, school and social media, hiding in their rooms for long periods of time. While it is usually quite cozy and comforting to stay at home, there are negative mental repercussions that can follow, whereas there are many health benefits of getting outside.

MIHS sophomore Summer Herzinger ensures that a short walk around the neighborhood or in a park is consistently part of her daily routine. “Most days I go outside for about 45 minutes to an hour,” Herzinger said. “I find that if I don’t get outside, I end the day feeling sort of unsatisfied and lazy.” By spending a portion of the day detached from the stresses of school, home and social life, the mind and body are able to relax and recharge.

According to UC Davis Health, “Being outdoors can have relaxing effects on our minds. Nature can provide a mental break by allowing us to temporarily escape the demands of everyday life. It can also boost your creativity and problem-solving abilities.”

“I think going outside and unplugging from technology really gives my mind space to wander,” Herzinger said. “For me, I try to let my mind wander and not think about things going on at school or at home, which gives me a mental reset that I think is really valuable.”

Being separated from technology and reconnecting with nature provides a great opportunity to be mindful and be able to think without distractions. It is generally easy to find a way to get outside for even a short amount of time and gain the same benefits.

“[Getting outside] doesn’t have to be some big task you have to complete every day,” Herzinger said. “Maybe just going on a 10-minute walk between homework assignments is what you need.”

There are so many options for where and how to get outside and take time off from technology wherever you live. Getting outside does not necessarily mean being entirely surrounded by nature—a stroll downtown or through a neighborhood works perfectly fine if there is not a park or trail nearby. Other options include finding a spot outside to relax without needing to walk or sitting outside your house on a balcony or in a yard to have a moment to yourself. Alternatively, doing homework outside, getting out for sports or hanging out with friends in a park all serve very similar purposes.

“It’s really up to you as to when and for how long you want to go outside,” Herzinger said. “As for where, I really recommend Pioneer Park or Luther Burbank because they’re both so beautiful. Neighborhoods are great too if you don’t have the time to drive to a park.”

Embedding a small portion of outdoor time into your daily or even weekly routine is advantageous and can be enjoyable as well.

“Going outside is so fun because you can learn a lot about nature and the way the world works,” Herzinger said. “If you’re feeling super overwhelmed, anxious or just unhappy in general, going outside can really brighten your mood.”

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About the Contributor
Kira Lancaster, Graphics Manager
Kira Lancaster (she/her) is a sophomore at MIHS and the Graphics Manager for The Islander. She enjoys music and dance and is part of the Mercer Island Drill Team at MIHS. Outside of school, her hobbies include drawing, writing and singing. Her favorite animal is a scorpion!

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