Parks, Recreation, and Mental Health
According to the National Recreation and Park Association, it is nearly unanimous across all generations, from Baby Boomers to Gen Zs, that everyone agrees activities offered by parks and recreation organizations are beneficial to mental health.
Whether someone is just getting their steps in on a walking trail or attending a tone-and-stretch class with friends, more time spent in parks and green spaces is a sure way to fight against mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
The National Recreation and Park Association found that socializing with friends and family, spending time in nature, and exercising were some of the top reasons people saw improvement in their mental health after using parks and recreation services.
Exercise is one of the most well-known ways to ease symptoms of depression or anxiety and positively impact someone's well-being. The reasoning behind it is both physical and mental. Exercise physically releases feel-good endorphins into your body that act to manage pain and trigger a positive feeling. While exercising, you also must focus on that task, which in turn stops you from focusing on what's causing you stress and anxiety at the time.
But exercise doesn't mean you have to be running laps repeatedly on a track (unless that's what makes you happy - then go for it!). Exercise comes in a wide range of options these days. From classes like Tone and Stretch and Skateboard Lessons to fitness zones, Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation provides a vast assortment for you to choose from.
Spending Time in Nature
The more prominent technology becomes in our daily lives, the less time people seem to be spending outside enjoying the greenspace around them. But being in nature is proven to increase a person's well-being and reduce anxiety, depression, and stress in their lives. According to an American Psychological Association article, a United Kingdom study "found people who had spent at least two recreational hours in nature during the previous week reported significantly greater health and well-being." From kayaking and canoeing on Hillsborough County's amazing rivers, creeks, and waterways, to birdwatching various local and migratory species that call local parks and preserves home, the county has many outdoor adventures for residents to take advantage of and boost their well-being.
Not able to get outside when you need to? Though in-person is always better, several mental health studies suggest that just looking at nature images or videos can be beneficial to your mental health, especially to those who might not be able to access the outdoors easily. Taking a few minutes, or even just a couple of moments, for a virtual nature break can help restore cognitive skills that may be dulled by overwhelming surroundings. Take a few minutes now to visit some of Hillsborough County's parks and preserves virtually.
Socializing with Friends and Family
It is widely known that socializing is good for your mind and body. According to the Mayo Clinic, socializing not only staves off feelings of loneliness, it also helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer. Socialization occurs in many different facets of our lives but is almost always part of your experience at your local park. From meeting your neighbor on the walking trail or taking part in a group activity, you can always efind opportunities to socialize at a park, even if you didn't set out to. Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation offers many opportunities for residents to meet up at its centers throughout the county. Esports, adult recreation leagues, and summer camps are only a few of the many programs that provide opportunities for residents to socialize at County parks.
Mindful Mondays Mental Health Resources
Mindful Mondays promotes different ways you can make your mental health a priority but not take up too much of your busy schedule. From chair yoga virtual classes to tips on how to decompress after a long day, Hillsborough County's Mindful Mondays has various interactive resources for you to access no matter what day or time it is.
Interested in more mindful videos that help improve your mental health? Check out the Mindful Monday's YouTube Playlist.