Five Rivers MetroParks has established four easy walks designed to improve mental health.
To recognize Mental Health Awareness Month and make it easier for the community to de-stress outdoors, Five Rivers MetroParks has established four Mindfulness Walks. Visitors will find signage along these short, easy walks inviting them to stop and engage in a variety of simple breathing and meditation activities. The mindfulness activities — developed with input from Dayton Children’s and Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services — can be done not only in the designated MetroParks but in any outdoor space.
“Spending time outdoors is a great way to stay active and improve your physical health, but time in nature improves mental wellbeing, too,” said Amy Dingle, MetroParks’ director of outdoor connections. “Connecting to your five senses, practicing mindful breathing and listing the things that bring you gratitude are tools that help build resiliency and wellbeing. The new Mindfulness Walks are a self-guided opportunity to help people learn how to use these tools and spend time in nature to reduce stress.”
Research shows that just 20 minutes a day immersed in nature significantly lowers stress hormone levels. Indeed, the mental health benefits of spending time in nature have been well documented and include:
“Mindfulness means putting all of your attention on one thing. It means taking the time to really notice what you are doing in that moment. You are focused in a very relaxed way,” said John Duby, a physician with Dayton Children’s and professor and chair of Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine department of pediatrics. “Spending time in nature gives us a great chance to be mindful of all our senses, to focus on our surroundings, and respond to what we see, hear, touch and smell. Practicing mindfulness can help us learn to pay better attention in all of our daily lives. For me, Dogwood Pond at Hills & Dales MetroPark is a great place to relax.”
The new Mindfulness Walks are:
Five Rivers MetroParks visitors should always follow the CDC’s recommendations, particularly for social distancing and wearing face coverings, while spending time outdoors. Current recommendations call for wearing a face covering outdoors if and when social distancing cannot be maintained. For the most current information on MetroParks’ COVID-19 response, visit www.metroparks.org/covid and follow Five Rivers MetroParks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.