At Sanford Behavioral Health, excursions are opportunities for our clients to experience real life in the safety of treatment. Excursions provide authentic opportunities to unpack feelings and triggers. They also rekindle or develop new interests that help make long-term recovery manageable and fun.
We recommend walking excursions while in treatment and long-term recovery. With 101 Michigan state parks covering 360,000 acres, there is a lot to explore. Indeed, the benefits abound, and Michigan is beautiful any time of year!
Benefits of Walking Excursions:
- Hiking decreases depression and feelings of hopelessness. It also allows us to connect with nature and ourselves, bringing a sense of well-being.
- Walking improves sleep quality. A bracing walk in the fresh air makes you tired and enhances REM sleep.
- Hiking improves cardio-respiratory fitness. And the farther you get from the madding crowd, the cleaner the oxygen.
- Without putting too much stress on your joints, the muscles in your legs, glutes, and core will develop and strengthen on the trail.
- Getting out of doors for the joy of movement and not for the calorie burn or competition frees the mind and opens the eyes to the splendor all around!
- Spend time out of doors, and your attention span and brain power increase – creative juices flow more freely when you are active than when sitting.
- Walking increases bone density, especially if you walk with a backpack.
- Being in nature improves connections to the people you are with, and when alone, it recharges you to the core.
- Winding your way on a rugged trail and taking responsibility for your actions improves emotional and physical stability.
- The sounds, smells, and sights in the majesty of nature have a calming effect on the mind.
- Uneven terrain improves balancing skills, automatically adjusting to ground-level changes.
- Walking, even a few minutes a day, increases longevity.
5 Favorite Michigan Excursions
1. Wilderness State Park, Mackinaw City, Michigan
Remarkable sunsets and a designated dark sky park are just two reasons to stop at Wilderness State Park on your way across the Mackinaw Bridge! Practice your awe walks and mindfulness exercises on the shores of Lake Michigan.
2. Rosy Mound Natural Area, Grand Haven, Michigan
One of our favorite outings is the trail at Rosy Mound Recreation Area. Rosy Mound is a dune with about a “7” degree of difficulty but with benches along the way, a manicured path, and solitary spots to meditate.
3. Early Morning Reeds Lake, East Grand Rapids, Michigan
Whether watching the sunrise, migrating Canadian geese, or ice fishermen, early morning at John A. Collins Park is hopping! We love this resource in the heart of East Grand Rapids (early rising is good for mental health).
4. Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Saugatuck, Michigan
The park is home to 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, coastal dunes, forests, and 13 miles of trails for all fitness levels (from a mile beach trail to more rigorous dune climbs). If you are feeling adventurous, book a ride in a dune buggy!
5. Blandford Nature Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Another gem in the heart of Grand Rapids is Blandford Nature Center. 125 acres of grass and woodlands, trails, ponds, herds of deer, and over 40 rehabilitated animals to view up close and personal.
Excursions in Real-Life Recovery
Walking in nature’s splendor brings good old-fashioned joy. And in addiction recovery, it is important to take advantage of moments of joy instead of ignoring them. Walking can also reset feelings of anxiety, anger, or hopelessness. The ability to evaluate and reset how you are feeling is quite a gift. And these moments on the trail can serve as a reminder to get out of your head and invite in the good. Happy trails to you!