Mindfulness, Gratitude and Self-Affirmation: A Park and Recreation Month Activity

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH | Posted on June 30, 2020

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The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a proud partner of the National Recreation and Park Association; our CEO, Kathy Higgins, said it best in a recent press release highlighting our collaboration,

“From increasing access to nutritious foods to providing safe places for children to play, parks and recreation professionals are essential partners in addressing the deep inequalities that our communities face…”

That critical work takes its toll. If you are a park professional reading this, you have probably spent your spring delivering meals, handing out personal protective equipment and making calls of support to older adults in your community. I hope this article gives you a few minutes to slow down, take a deep breath and celebrate your unique skills, talents and impact.

If you’re ready, all you need is a piece of scrap paper and something to write with. Once you give the activity a try, share your experience and tag me on Twitter using @hatchdw.

Mindful Moment

Let’s start with a practice that you can add to your day when stress arises.

  1. Find a comfortable position and place your hands on your knees.
  2. Take a big deep breath in…hold it…and let it out slowly. As you breathe, stretch your arms to the sky in the shape of the letter ‘I’.
  3. Take another big deep breath in…hold it…and let it out even slower. As you breathe, stretch your arms out as a letter ‘T’.
  4. Take another big deep breath in…hold it…and let it out as slow as possible, counting to 10. As you breathe, stretch your arms toward the sky in the shape of the letter ‘Y.’

My teammates Yasemin and Megan, two of Healthier Generation’s social-emotional health experts, encourage educators they work with to notice how stress shows up in our beliefs, our body or our behaviors. Once we identify how stress is showing up, we can use self-care tools like mindful moments to re-center and move forward.

Gratitude Check-In

If you’ve seen our Self-Care Sunday video series, you know there are many benefits to practicing gratitude — including a better night’s sleep. Take a few minutes to reflect and answer the following questions:

  • What is one thing I am proud of today?
  • Who are two teammates who have supported me this week?
  • What are three ways my park and recreation agency has made an impact this month?

Consider how this reflection could support the well-being of your staff this summer. We all show and receive gratitude in different ways, so be creative and embrace the uniqueness of yourself and your team.

Park and Recreation Month Affirmation

Racial equality demonstrations of the past month have shown the transformative power of parks and green spaces to bring communities together. To remind you of your strength, follow the format below to write your own affirmation. Use it as a tool to support others — especially youth — in your community.

  • I am …  (words that describe a unique talent you have).
  • I am ... (words that describe how you positively impact others).
  • My talents can ... (words that describe how you can use your unique talents to impact others).

Once you write down your affirmation, come back to it as needed. Proudly share it with others and use it as a basis to forge new collaborations grounded in your strengths. You can even share your affirmations and gratitude check-in responses on social media throughout Park and Recreation Month using #WeAreParksAndRec.

Resource List

Daniel W. Hatcher, MPHis the Director of Community Partnerships for Alliance for a Healthier Generation. You can follow him on Twitter @hatchdw.