“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:
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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