Uncovering Mental Health Benefits

July 30, 2018




Happy Park and Recreation month! Celebrated annually in July, Park and Recreation month helps to highlight some of the great roles that our profession has on the community. This July, we are celebrating all of the “undiscovered” roles of parks and recreation with the theme of "A Lifetime of Discovery". This wellness blog will go over some of the health and wellness benefits of parks and recreation. 


When discussing the undiscovered roles of parks and recreation, I first thought about all of the health and wellness implications that our profession offers that the general public might not consider. For each week in July, I'll cover a new health and wellness benefit of our field.


This week, the"undiscovered benefit" of our profession is the positive impact on mental health. 


While the physical health benefits of recreation and parks have been covered extensively, sometimes we forget the positive mental health outcomes that can result from our field.


According to NRPA, recreation and parks can positively impact mental health in a variety of ways including stress reduction, improved mood and attitude, improved mindfulness, and better overall mental function. Below, I've included some key takeaways from the article. 


Many of these benefits come from the open nature spaces that our parks offer to the community. "Modern life often demands sustained focus on projects, and this effort can lead to cognitive overload, bringing on irritability and an inability to function effectively, often with physical symptoms. Views or brief experiences of nearby nature help to restore the mind from mental fatigue, as natural settings provide respite from the highly focused attention needed for most tasks in school or at work."


Additionally, spending time outdoors fosters creativity. "In a study of creative professionals, nature experiences enhanced creativity by evoking new ways of thinking, promoting curiosity and encouraging more flexible thinking."


These benefits have some important implications for workplaces. "This may contribute to higher productivity in the workplace, as research shows that office workers with a view of nature are better able to attend to tasks, report fewer illnesses and have higher job satisfaction." 


I hope that during Park and Recreation month, you have learned a bit more about the benefits of our field! These "undiscovered benefits" of our profession provide even more evidence to what we already know: parks and recreation is an essential service for our communities. 


For a recap of some of the other undiscovered benefits, please check out the other blog posts on healthyparksnc.org/blog 

Until next time,


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Founded in 1944, the North Carolina Recreation & Park Association (NCRPA) is the premier nonprofit education and advocacy organization, dedicated to the advancement of the park, recreation and leisure professions in our state. NCRPA empowers park and recreation professionals and citizen board members through educational opportunities that enhance their ability to change lives and impact communities on a daily basis for the citizens of North Carolina. Click this link to return back to ncrpa.net.

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