This past year has brought on many days inside, doing the same thing over and over. Finding new things to do can be challenging. Recently I was inspired by an L.L. Bean magazine highlighting ways to get out and explore your own city. As a therapist and a city dweller myself, I always aim to challenge my clients to try and see their surroundings in a new and more positive way.
However, the reality is that not everyone lives in a downtown hub with access to many attractions and amenities. Other barriers such as lack of transportation and finances can also hinder exploration plans. Sometimes, even, our mental health and mindset can also stand in our way, making leaving the house even more challenging than we would like it to be. So, whether you are looking to find excitement and joy in seeing your area in a new way or would rather stay home and have no idea where to start, here are three free ideas to begin finding your path in the place you live.
Sounds simple enough, right? With busy schedules, finding time to spend 5 to 20 minutes outside can seem like an extra thing on our plates. However, the benefits to our minds and bodies by being out in nature and getting fresh air far outweigh any minor inconveniences. Additionally, this is an excellent free way to start getting to know your surroundings. Whether you are new to the neighborhood or a long-time resident, going for a walk or jog around the area or a safe place you like to be can help the place to feel more familiar and boost your endorphins in the process. The American Psychological Association published an article on the many benefits of going outside, including reducing stress, greater physical health, and improved concentration and creativity. Bonus tip that is great for anyone of all ages, try a mindfulness activity: when you are outside, see how many different plants and animals you notice. What sounds do they make? How many colors do you see? What can you smell and hear?
For those itching to get their hands dirty, many local churches, food organizations, hospitality groups, and nonprofits are always looking for volunteers to help year-round. Volunteering with a local organization is a great way to see what the needs in your community are. It is a great opportunity for you to step outside of your comfort zone and experience something different from your normal life right in your neighborhood.
Our home environments can have a huge impact on our mental health and wellness. Have you been eyeing that pile of laundry sitting in the corner for a couple of weeks now? Or the DIY project that you have ready but have not started yet? Creating a home environment that feels peaceful and safe for you is important for your mental health journey. Even completing one small task, such as watering your plants can help create a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Bonus tip: If you are living in an area that is not of your choosing or does not have a healthy surrounding environment, what is something that can make your personal space better for you? What do you need to make your living space feel like home in an area that does not?
While there are many more ideas that could be added to this list, the point is to begin looking at your space through a different lens and find your path of adventure through getting out and exploring in a way that is helpful and meaningful to you. So, I encourage you to think of a way to carve your own path where you live and take an actionable step towards creating it. If you need help carving out your own path, give us a call – we are here to help!
Katie Peterson provides counseling for teens and young adults and specializes in areas of anxiety, depression, gender identity, and relationship issues. Katie continues to pursue her love of people and psychology through graduate school and is currently an intern with Lifeologie Grand Rapids, working towards her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.