The Psychology of How New Adventures Improve Mental Health

Ashley Harris
New adventures like your first skydiving session or spending an afternoon rock climbing can improve your mood and overall mental health in a variety of ways.

Between work responsibilities, family requirements, plans with friends, and all the various stressors that make up our daily lives, it is important to take steps to protect and improve your mental health. One surefire way to improve your mood quickly is to seek out new adventures. New adventures like your first skydiving session or spending an afternoon rock climbing can improve your mood and overall mental health in a variety of ways. 

Creates “Good Stress”

Not all types of stress are created equally. According to psychologists, stress is defined by any form of stimulation that causes elevated excitement.  While we tend to avoid things that we think of as stressful, there are some forms of stress that our brains interpret positively. This includes new adventures like watching scary movies or even skydiving. Research indicates that individuals who experience this kind of “good stress”, accompanied by a feeling of safety within the fear, are more productive and have a more positive outlook on life. Some research indicates that experiencing this kind of good stress improves your response to stressors overall. 

Produces Positive Emotions

Your brain has several chemicals that all contribute to your overall sense of happiness and well-being, like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. The release of these chemicals can give you a rush or natural high. According to Scientific American, new adventures that have an element of fear like skydiving or roller coasters cause your brain to release several of these “feel good” chemicals, some of which linger in your body for quite a while, creating a natural feeling of great happiness. One study found that endorphin levels were elevated by more than 200% after the participants went bungee jumping. 

Cultivates Memorable Experiences

Going about our daily lives doesn’t often result in good stories or strong, awesome memories. Seeking out new adventures guarantees that you will always have positive thoughts and memories to reflect on, even when times get tough. You’ll feel better, and have a better outlook on life with so many positive memories to boost you throughout the day. Additionally, when you are looking forward to trying a new experience, you also gain a more positive outlook. According to the US Parachute Association, less than 1% of the US population has ever been skydiving. So if skydiving is your new adventure, you would be one of only a few people to have taken that leap. 

Improves Resiliency 

Resiliency, which is your ability to “bounce back” after difficult or traumatic experiences, may be increased by seeking out thrills and new adventures.  When you seek out new adventures, you are actually improving your body’s ability to adapt and return to normal following major events in your life. A branch of psychology called Positive Psychology studies resiliency, and researchers have found that new adventures can help create good coping skills and increased awareness of stress levels, which are essential traits for resiliency. One study found that experienced skydivers (those who had been on 25+ dives) recovered more quickly from the experience, indicating that the more frequently you engage in activities like skydiving, the more quickly you can bounce back from stressful activities. 

Ends Monotony

New adventures, by their very nature, mean that you are doing activities that are outside your daily norm. Research has indicated a relationship between boredom and feelings of depression. Seeking out new adventures means that you are breaking out of boredom and monotony, which will help to improve your mood, even if you find yourself feeling depressed. Studies have indicated that people who are bored are significantly more likely to indicate feelings of depression as well. 

New adventures can be essential to a happy, active lifestyle. If you have been on the fence about taking that trip, scheduling that skydiving session, or trying any new adventure, consider the benefits of taking that leap on your mental health. The prospect of leaping from an airplane in your first skydiving session seems a lot less frightening when you know that the experience will be accompanied by a rush of chemicals in your brain that will make you feel amazing and really alive. 

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