stress and anxiety
09.04.99 - Hike to Frary Peak on Antelope Island. Photo by Ray Boren.

Utah outdoor activities to relieve stress and anxiety

As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues, many are feeling its effects as stress and anxiety begins to build.

Social distancing, at its core, can cause people to feel isolated and disconnected from family members, coworkers, and friends. While it is necessary to practice safe public health options, doing so may negatively impact our mental health and increase stress and anxiety.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), during late June, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use.

Now many are turning to the outdoors to try and combat the negative effects of the pandemic. Research has even shown that spending less than an hour outdoors can positively affect your mood and decrease anxiety and rumination.

In an effort to try and help combat stress and anxiety, we have compiled a list of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

(Disclaimer: Please follow all public health guidelines related to COVID-19 in your area. You can find a list of ways to protect yourself and others by visiting the official Utah Coronavirus website.)

Go for a relaxing hike

Donut Falls Hiking Trail (Big Cottonwood Canyon)

stress and anxiety
Donut Falls is a great trail for the whole family that features a beautiful waterfall.

Location: The turn off to the Donut Falls Hiking Trail is located approx 9 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon near Mounthaven, Utah.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.1 miles – 538 ft elevation gain

The Living Room Lookout Trail (Salt Lake City)

stress and anxiety
The Living Room Overlook Trail is a great trail for the whole family to enjoy.

Location: On the north bench above the Red Butte Gardens in Salt Lake City.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.3 miles – 980 ft elevation gain

Bells Canyon Trail to Lower Falls (Sandy)

stress and anxiety
Lower waterfall in Bells Canyon features a beautiful waterfall and a great lookout of the Salt Lake valley.

Location: The canyon is located on the east side of the valley, above Sandy, just off of Wasatch Blvd.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.6 miles – 1453 ft elevation gain

Travel to the Bonneville Salt Flats and stargaze

Comet C/2020 F3, also known as NEOWISE, is seen before dawn above the Bonneville Salt Flats on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

The Bonneville Salt Flats span across 30,000 acres and is only a two-hour drive from Salt Lake City. It’s far enough away from the city lights that you’ll be able to have a wide view of the night sky to stargaze. It was even a hot spot for photographers when the NEOWISE comet passed earth.

Drive to Antelope Island and go birding

Hike to Frary Peak on Antelope Island. Photo by Ray Boren.

Another great retreat from the stress and anxiety of the pandemic is to drive to Antelope Island. There you can view one of many species of birds. The state park features millions of birds that congregate along the shores surrounding the island. In doing so, you are offered unparalleled opportunities for birding according to the state park website.

To learn more about Antelope Island, you can view visit the Antelope Island State Park website here.

For other ways to help prevent stress and anxiety, listen to the Project Recovery podcast

For more information on relieving stress and anxiety, visit the Project Recovery Facebook, it’s home page on KSL TV, or their sponsor, Use Only as Directed. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.

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