During these trying times, it’s likely that you’re looking for ways to relieve some stress and relax. August 15th marks Relaxation Day, and we thought it would be the perfect time to highlight how you can soak up a little zen at your local park! Local parks provide space for you to connect with nature and recharge which is just one reason that they’re so vital to our communities. Taking time to focus on mindfulness and relaxation is crucial to your overall health. Since we’ve all been spending a lot of time at home, getting out into a neutral space, like your local park, can help you focus on being intentional about relaxation and mindfulness. Here are some ways to relax and recharge at your local park.
Even if you’ve never practiced yoga, finding a few poses to do at your local park can do wonders for your mental health. The practice of yoga originated in India and leads participants through a variety of movements that aim to increase mobility and mindfulness. These movements are traditionally paired with different breathing patterns to allow oxygen to flow as bountifully as possible during the practice. There are lots of videos (many of them are free!) online that can help you practice yoga wherever you like. Doing yoga at your local park offers you the opportunity to connect your breath and movement with nature which can reduce stress. Simply find a flat, grassy spot to lay down your mat or focus on standing poses that don’t require you to get down on the ground. Breathe deep and enjoy the beauty of nature as you exhale the stress of the day.
No, we’re not saying we want you to take a bath at your local park. Forest bathing, otherwise known as shinrin-yoku, is a popular practice in Japan that can help reduce stress and foster a connection with nature. It’s even been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and reduce stress hormones in your body. It also might be the perfect activity for anyone to participate in at a local park. Forest bathing is simply the process of being mindful of your surroundings in nature. You could go for a walk on a park trail and take time to touch the leaves of the trees you pass by. Close your eyes and listen to the birds singing. Stop and smell the flowers. Take your shoes off and feel how the ground below affects your feet. Is it soft grass? Is it cool dirt? Forest bathing is simply focusing on what is right in front of you in nature and being appreciative and mindful of its existence.
Though the art of mediation might seem like an unattainable practice for some, it’s really something that everyone can participate in. Meditating can be as simple as sitting on a park bench and taking some deep breaths. Working on your meditation practice in a natural setting like a local park is perfect for removing distractions. This form of stress relief is accessible to anyone as it doesn’t require skill or any sort of special equipment. You’re simply sitting with yourself and focusing your attention on removing the jumble of thoughts in your mind that may be causing your stress. Meditation can help you focus on the present moment and build stress management skills. Taking a few moments to meditate at your favorite park can be the most relaxing part of your day!
Parks are there to provide a clean, safe environment for community members to connect with nature. Just being outside in a park can reduce stress! Taking it a step further to focus on mindful stress reduction offers a host of benefits to everyone in the community. If you’re interested in exploring your local parks, head to our Park Finder and pick a new spot to visit today!