10 Stress-Busting Reasons To Visit A State or National Park

After being cooped up the last couple of summers, many families are looking for an adventure away from home. State and national parks are the perfect option to experience something new, fun, and relaxing, especially with July being National Park and Recreation Month.


“Parks are hidden treasures that many of us tend to take for granted,” suggests Sandi Schwartz, author of Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer (Quill Driver Book/Linden Publishing). “My most memorable National Park experience was when I visited the Grand Canyon as a teen. I can still picture the sprawling red, amber, and golden rocks, craters, and mountains as far as I could see. Connecting to nature through awe-filled experiences like you can find at picturesque parks can help reduce stress and boost our mood.”

 

Schwartz suggests 10 reasons why visiting a state or national parks can help your family feel happier and calmer:

bridge in a grass park

Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay

#10 Experience awe. Awe–when we experience something that seems magical and amazing–is an emotion that has a powerful effect on our body and mind. It allows us to transcend the ordinary, tests our concept of time and scale, gives us the sense of being small in a grand universe, and helps us to truly be in the moment. Awe can make us happier and healthier in a number of ways by helping us build social connection, pique curiosity, expand creativity, and reduce anxiety and depression. Parks have so many incredible natural features that will “wow” you and your family.

#9 See something new. Did you know that stress reduction is one of the most important benefits of travel? A 2012 survey by Expedia found that 89 percent of vacationers said they could let go of stress and relax after only a day or two into their trip. When you visit a park, you get out of your comfort zone and daily routine to experience something new and exciting, which helps reduce stress and boost happiness.

#8 Get some exercise. When you visit a state or national park, you’ll have so many opportunities to move your body. Whether you go on a hike, bike around the park, or rent a kayak or canoe to paddle around the water, you’ll be able to take in the sites while also getting some exercise.

#7 Find peace and quiet. Another huge benefit of visiting a park is that you can find some peace and quiet and feel removed from the hustle and bustle of your daily life. It will give you and your family a chance to practice some mindfulness out in nature, helping to clear your mind of all the chatter and stress. Challenge yourself to just sit and be for a few minutes; focused attention can do wonders to reduce stress and anxiety.

#6 Spark creativity. Being in and around nature is the perfect inspiration for artwork. You can take photographs of the scenery and then paint or draw based on the images you captured. You can also use those pictures and work together as a family to create a collage to hang up in your home or a slideshow set to music. A trip to a state or national park may also set the stage to write a story or poetry about what you experienced during your visit. By recreating nature experiences through art, we feel calmer and happier.

Indiana Dunes State Park Beach

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

#5 Teach about nature and conservation. By spending time outdoors enjoying the beauty and awe that our natural environment provides, we feel better emotionally as we get excited and curious about our surroundings. There are endless opportunities to turn a trip to the park into a learning experience. Many parks have visitor centers that share the history and science of the area, so take advantage of that resource.

#4 Inspire kindness. A trip to park can also help your family realize how important it is to preserve and protect nature. You may want to do more to help the environment when you return home. Your family can make a big difference year-round by volunteering outdoors in nature doing activities like beach cleanups, planting trees, and working with animals.

#3 Be grateful. Gratitude plays a critical role in happiness. Focusing on the positive boosts body, mind, and spirit. In a nutshell, it provides life with meaning by thinking of life as a gift. The incredible aspects of nature can help us all step back and be grateful for the beauty and mystery of our planet. A trip to a state or national park helps us escape our daily routines in big cities and crowded suburbs to experience the natural environment. It’s important that we take a moment to be grateful for what we find.

#2 It’s fun family time. Just simply having fun spending time together as a family does wonders for boosting all of our mood. It’s even better when you get to travel and experience new places together. Even the journey to the park can be filled with enjoyable, inspiring learning opportunities.

#1 It’s inexpensive and sometimes even FREE! Visiting a park tends to be a very thrifty adventure, fortunately. Some are free and some charge a nominal fee. On several days throughout the year, all national parks that charge an entrance fee offer free admission to everyone. Learn more about these special deals at National Parks: https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/fee-free-days-2022.htm.

Yellowstone National Park

Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay

Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer is available from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, IndieBound.org, and wherever books are sold. For more information, please visit www.ecohappinessproject.com.

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Sandi Schwartz is an author, journalist, and mother of two. She has written extensively about parenting, wellness, and environmental issues. As the founder and director of the Ecohappiness Project, her mission is to inspire and educate families to build a nature habit to feel happier and calmer. Both her parenting book, Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer, and children’s book, Sky’s Search for Ecohappiness, are available now. Learn more at www.ecohappinessproject.com.

2 Comments

  • Jodie

    I love visiting the Provincial Parks here in Canada and the State parks in the U.S and have fond memories of doing so. I hope I can do so again in the near future. Thanks for sharing.

  • Unwanted Life

    These all sound like great reasons to visit a state or national park in America, if you live there of course. I think the UK uses a similar system, but I’m not 100% sure. But there are plenty of publicly available green spaces and parks we can visit, which fulfil the same stress busting reasons you’ve suggested for parks in the US

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