Hello residents of Litchfield and surrounding communities. My name is Amy Borstad and I am a mental health counselor with Lighthouse Counseling. In our current culture of social distancing, so many treasured summer traditions have been cancelled this year including local fairs and festivals. While it may be easy to become discouraged thinking about what we cannot do, let’s take the next few moments and focus on what is not closed or cancelled, which includes county parks! I encourage you to seek fresh air and a fresh perspective while practicing mindfulness at our very own Meeker County Parks. Did you know the Meeker County Parks Department includes TEN parks? You can find a list and locations of the parks here: https://www.co.meeker.mn.us/188/Parks
So what exactly is mindfulness, how can it help and how can you practice mindfulness outdoors? If you looked up the definition of the word “mindfulness” you would learn that mindfulness means: focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Did you know research has shown that mindfulness can help to reduce stress, increase focus and memory and provide overall improvement to one’s well-being?
Here is an outdoor mindfulness exercise to try:
Go for a 5-10 minute mindful walk, unhurried and uninterrupted. Engage all five of your senses. Look around you and notice things you hadn’t noticed before. Maybe it’s the light reflecting on the morning dew. Maybe you’ll notice intricate designs in the leaves or tree bark. Take a moment and admire the beauty in the natural creation. Next, what physical sensations do you feel while you are walking? How does the ground feel beneath your feet? How does the breeze feel against your face or the temperature on your skin? Also, be mindful of what you can hear. Notice all the background noises. While you are walking, what do you smell? Maybe you can smell flowers or fresh cut grass. Take a whiff of the air near the lakeshore. And finally, what do you taste? Sip on a cool drink or simply notice how your mouth tastes. While you are engaging your senses, don’t forget to breathe deeply.
While sunshine and fresh air are certainly good for you, sometimes it’s not enough. If symptoms of anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns are negatively impacting your day to day functioning, please reach out to a mental health professional. We are here for you!
Now it’s your turn, what are your favorite outdoor spaces in Litchfield and the surrounding area?