As the season changes, so do our natural surroundings. Spring’s rains shower the flora of the Forest Preserves. The sun shines longer, and as the trees absorb its sunlight, they begin to regrow their leaves. Ephemeral wildflowers begin to bloom. Animals may be spotted while they transition from hibernation to awakening. This is the season of “renewal.”
For some, the idea of “renewal” can signify having a clean slate to approach life with a positive outlook, letting go of and releasing stress to allow new things to enter your life. With May recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, consider how you can enjoy time outdoors to improve mental and physical wellness.
Science has shown that setting aside time to be in nature can bring a sense of peace and serenity. According to a 2018 study done by Dr. Teresa H. Horton and researchers at Northwestern University’s Department of Anthropology, taking a walk in nature reduces stress and anxiety in the body, even more than walking along an urban sidewalk.
Additional benefits of spending time in nature include an increase in focus and sleep quality as well as a reduced risk of certain diseases. In the Forest Preserves of Cook County, you can hike, bike, kayak, climb fitness stairs and much more. Throughout the Preserves, you can also participate in a variety of low-impact activities—from self-guided to instructor led—that provide health benefits, such as yoga, meditation, fishing and simply viewing the beautiful scenery.
This month, join us in celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month and consider participating in these programs or heading out into nature on your own to improve your health and wellbeing.