Crafting Nature Tours To Help Battle Depression and Anxiety
In this article you'll find helpful tips, recommendations, and strategies for creating engaging self-guided tours set in the great outdoors, and learn how they can be used to help improve mental and physical well-being.
Nature’s Sweet Relief
When it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety, getting outside always seems to be one of the recommended activities. This remedy is in fact more than just some old wives' tale. Research shows nature has positive effects on the body and mind:
In addition to nature’s calming effect on depression symptoms, being outdoors gives you a great excuse to exercise, another important way to help manage depression. While exercise boosts endorphins — natural body chemicals that elicit sensations of pleasure — exercising outdoors can improve self-esteem and reduce feelings of depression, anger, and tension, according to a review of research published in the journal Extreme Physiology & Medicine in 2013.
So when deciding on the best content for anxiety-relieving tours, placing them in a serene, natural setting can help improve the mental and physical health of tour takers seeking an escape from the confines of work and home. This does not have to be a miles-long excursion into the wilderness either. Even short treks outside can be beneficial.
All tour stops in Built Story must be connected to a physical, or mailing, address. If Google Maps recognizes an address, you are good to go!
So if your tour includes exploring a park, you might use points of interest such as the welcome center's address. Trailheads work great too!
According to the Harvard Business Review,
In a 2015 study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they walked for 90 minutes in either a natural setting or an urban one. They found that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.
The combination of the sounds and sights experienced outdoors offers therapeutic benefits, including the potential of lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels, calming your body out of its fight or flight response. Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, explains:
Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry.
Crafting Unforgettable Nature Tours & Experiences
Crafting a great outdoor tour can help give tour takers an opportunity to take a breather, get some exercise, and reset their energy levels. In addition to reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety, nature can even be great for adults and children experiencing attention deficits.
These therapeutic experiences can be incorporated into walking, biking, or even driving tours.
Driving tours are a great way to cover more ground, expand your area of exploration, and get some sightseeing in--all while avoiding large groups. Like a road trip, but on a smaller scale, a driving tour can take your customers on an exploration of nearby cities or neighborhoods, introducing them to hidden gems beyond their local options.
With a driving tour, you can nudge tour takers to explore multiple outdoor destinations, or even just build in a few brief moments of escape between other, more in-depth stops that allow them to immerse themselves in their natural surroundings. Even small doses of nature and the outdoors can help boost mood and energy levels.
Adding in (even short) outdoor stops on biking and driving tours lets tour takers stretch their legs, take a brief respite from the bike or car, and commune with nature. Suggest a great roadside or farmers market, a picturesque spot for a picnic, or a place for the littlest members of the family to run for a few minutes.
Pique their interest with interesting details.
One good way to keep tour takers interested is to add descriptions and media about the local flora, fauna, geology, and history in the area of your tour. Give them background on a little bit of the natural and human history of their corner of the world.
Making them feel like explorers on a mission is fun and exciting for adults and children alike.
Fun and games make for a better tour.
Adding exciting options to your tour will make the ultimate difference in getting good reviews and customers coming back for more. Part of the fun of exploring the outdoors is getting back to the inner child in us all.
When catering to families with small children, you’ll want to include quality stops with short distances in between to keep the little ones, who tend to have shorter attention spans, engaged. Trails with plenty of bird or wildlife spotting could be a popular option.
Consider adding games or building in a scavenger hunt on your tour to keep everyone included and active. Kids may enjoy activities such as I-Spy or Out & About Bingo, which can easily be incorporated. You could, for example, preselect objects to highlight on your tour and add them as clues for that I-Spy game.
Alternatively, create printable Bingo cards with items families might encounter on their tour or a themed visual scavenger hunt. While small and easy to execute, these gestures will add a creative touch that is sure to keep families interacting with your tour and present in their surroundings.
Popular features to jazz up your tour.
A really impactful way to boost your tour quality is to include high-quality picture, audio, and video media on your tour stops. Comparing a photo of an endangered bird to the real thing, understanding the historic significance of a trail, listening to your audio narration--are all wonderful ingredients. You can even add in things like a suggested playlist for your tour.
These little extras – that don’t take much time at all to add on the Built Story platform--give tour takers the ultimate experience of interacting and savoring their environment.
Remember that your content lives at each stop, so make sure to include fun tips, games, or info for the time spent in-between stops.
All tour stops in Built Story must be connected to a physical mailing address. If Google Maps recognizes an address, you are on your way!
If your tour includes exploring a park, you might use the welcome center or park ranger’s address. Trailheads also work great here!
Everyone needs a bit of Mother Nature in their lives. Crafting great tours means finding safe and engaging ways to provide your community with opportunities to head outdoors, interact with their surroundings, take a break from everyday life, and breathe a little easier.
To explore more helpful tips on creating a great tour with Built Story, check out this article.