Rock hunting is in. It’s the latest craze sweeping Australia, with the largest following in Western Australia and it’s even spreading overseas. Basically the idea is that participants paint rocks, letting their imaginations go wild with different patterns and designs, and then hide them in public spaces like parks and playgrounds for other people to find. The finder can then re-hide the rock in a different location or keep it if they choose.
It’s an incredibly fun activity to get involved in and anyone can do it, from toddlers to grandparents. Not only is it a lot of fun it is also very beneficial to a persons mental health. Here’s why:
1. Fresh air – By going out to parks and other public spaces to hide and find rocks you are increasing your exposure to fresh air, rather than the recirculated air found in homes and office buildings. Breathing in fresh air helps clear out your lungs and increases oxygen levels in your body. Increased oxygen levels give you more energy and a more focused mind. Fresh air improves a persons sense of well-being and promotes relaxation.
2. Sunshine – Being out in the sunshine increases vitamin D absorption. Vitamin D not only helps with a multitude of physical illnesses, it is also known to help reduce depression and anxiety. Exposure to sunlight also improves sleep which is an important factor when managing a mental illness.
3. Exercise – Endorphins and serotonin are just a couple of the chemicals that your body releases while you exercise. These chemicals have a ‘feel good’ effect on your mind and body which can improve your mood and reduce stress. Regular exercise helps with many mental illnesses and can aid in recovery. What better way to fit in some exercise than walking around a park hunting for rocks or finding the perfect hiding place for your own works of art?
4. Family bonding/shared experience – Family boding is important to everyone’s mental health. It encourages communication and sharing and helps people feel loved, accepted and included. A shared experience such as rock hunting can positively reinforce a family’s relationship.
5. Discovering new places – They say a change is as good as a holiday, even just spending an afternoon getting out in nature, discovering new places, can have an enormously positive impact on your mental health. Many studies have shown that getting out in nature is a good way to reduce symptoms of mental illness. Spending time finding new places to hide your rocks is a great way to do this.
6. Time away from screens – Children today spend more than the average recommended time on screens and adults aren’t that much better. Some studies suggest that too much screen time can have a negative impact on children’s mental health. Rock hunting is a fun activity that can get children and adults away from technology and back outside.
7. Getting creative – Art therapy became a recognised practice in the early 1940’s. Being creative can help you de-stress, express yourself and can help lift your mood. It is also a good way to practice mindfulness and being in the moment. Painting rocks is something anyone can do at any skill level. Art is good for the soul.
8. Kindness – Kids and adults alike love finding rocks. You never know where your rocks are going to end up and the happiness it could bring to someones day. Kindness is known to lower blood pressure and increase the release of endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin, which helps reduce depression and anxiety and increase happiness.
9. Being part of a bigger community – Rock hunting is a good way to be involved in a community activity without having to be around people if you also happen to have social anxiety. Communicating with other rock hunters through Facebook pages is a great way to stay involved and up to date without having to actually speak to people. Being involved with a community can help reduce symptoms of mental illness and aid in recovery, also giving people a feeling of participation, satisfaction and enjoyment.
10. Excitement – Finding new rocks is fun, seeing how far rocks have travelled is fun, seeing the kids reactions to finding rocks is fun. Everyone needs a little fun and excitement in their lives. It gives you an opportunity to step back from the stressors of life and enjoy yourself.
Connect with other rock hunters around Australia on Facebook. If you are not in Australia do a quick search and see if there is a rock hunting group in your area, if there isn’t perhaps consider starting one yourself.