Chattanooga, TN

10 Things to Do in Chattanooga This November to Improve Your Mental Health

Scott Ninneman @ Speaking Bipolar

Whatever you like, Chattanooga has a place for you to ease your anxiety.

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Fall overlooking Chattanooga, Tennessee.David Mark/Pixabay

As the leaves finish changing colors and drop from the trees and the weather gets cooler, it's easy to let your mental health slide. There’s no reason for that to happen, because there are plenty of things to do in Chattanooga in November to help you stay happy and healthy.

Here are 10 activities and venues to help you improve your mental health this month.

1. Get Outside

Chattanooga is home to some of the most beautiful parks in the country. From majestic waterfalls to serene landscapes, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Besides their natural beauty, these parks offer a variety of recreational opportunities, such as hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and picnicking.

The city’s parks are also a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and appreciate the simple things in life. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or an adventure, Chattanooga’s parks are sure to please.

Take a hike at one of Chattanooga’s many beautiful spots, such as Stringer’s Ridge or Audubon Acres. Just being in nature can reduce stress levels and improve mood.

2. Visit the Chattanooga Zoo

The Chattanooga Zoo is home to over 500 animals representing over 150 species from around the world. The zoo is open year-round, and it offers a variety of educational programs, special events, and animal encounters.

Visitors can ride the Zoo Choo Train and carousel, take part in keeper chats, and connect with nature. Whether you’re looking for an exciting day out or an educational experience, the Chattanooga Zoo has something to offer every age group.

Seeing all the cute animals is sure to put a smile on your face. Plus, studies have shown that interacting with animals can decrease anxiety and improve social skills.

3. Watch the Fish

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is one of the largest freshwater aquariums in the world. It is home to over 12,000 animals, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.

The Aquarium has two main sections: the River Journey and the Ocean Journey. The River Journey features habitats of the Tennessee River and its tributaries, while the Ocean Journey showcases species from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Visitors can also take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn about the Aquarium’s animal care and husbandry practices.

Whether you’re interested in freshwater or saltwater species, the Tennessee Aquarium is sure to have something for you. Nothing helps reduce stress and anxiety like observing the jelly fish under soothing colored lights.

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Downtown Chattanooga and the Tennessee Aquarium.Kelly/Pexels

4. Take a Cooking Class

There are many mental health benefits of cooking. It can help relieve stress, improve your mood, and boost your self-esteem.

Cooking can also be a great way to relax and unwind after a long day. It can make you feel connected with your friends and family, and it can even help reacquaint you with your heritage.

When you cook, you get to be creative and have fun. You can experiment with different ingredients and flavors, and you can even create your own recipes.

The act of cooking can also help to boost your mental health by giving you a sense of accomplishment. After all, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of pride that comes from knowing you made something yourself.

If you want to improve your skills this November or just have a fun outing, schedule a class at the Sweet and Savory Classroom. You might just find that it does wonders for your mental health.

5. See an IMAX Movie

Everyone needs to get away now and then, and you’re no different. When you visit the IMAX theater, you’ll find a welcoming place to escape from reality for a couple hours. Let yourself become one with the big screen and temporarily forget about your day-to-day troubles.

Studies show that watching movies can have several mental health benefits. For instance, viewing films can be therapeutic, as they can decrease stress and anxiousness. The right movies can also promote positive emotions and warm even the coolest spots in your heart.

Movies can also provide social connection, as they offer a shared experience that you can enjoy with others. Who doesn’t need more human connection after the last two years?

Finally, movies can also be educational, teaching you about diverse cultures and historical events. The next time you’re feeling down, consider heading to your local IMAX for an immersive adventure in other worlds.

6. Volunteer

Chattanooga has many opportunities for you to put your volunteer spirit in action. Sign up with an organization like Habitat for Humanity or the Chattanooga Food Bank and help improve the lives of others.

Many often think of volunteering as a selfless act, and while it is certainly true that volunteers provide valuable services to their communities, there is also evidence to suggest that volunteering can significantly improve mental health.

For instance, volunteers often report feeling a sense of satisfaction and purpose, as well as increased levels of happiness. In addition, volunteering can help to reduce stress levels, combat boredom, and provide community social connectedness.

Of course, it is important to choose a volunteering activity that is enjoyable and fulfilling in order to maximize the mental health benefits. However, even a small amount of time spent working for others can make a big difference.

7. Attend a Comedy Show

It’s no secret that laughter is good for your physical health, but did you know it can also improve your mental health? Laughter can reduce stress hormones, increase serotonin levels, and improve blood flow. In addition, laughter can help reduce anxiety and depression, and it can even improve your cognitive function.

If you need a boost, add some comedy to your life. The Comedy Catch is a Chattanooga icon and the home of live stand-up in Chattanooga. Make plans to attend a show and go get your laugh on.

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Train engine at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.RosZie/Pixabay

8 . Visit a Museum

Often when you think of mental health, you think of conditions like anxiety and depression. However, mental health is about more than just diagnosable conditions—it’s about your overall emotional well-being.

One way to promote positive mental health is by visiting museums. Museums give you an opportunity to step outside of your everyday life and experience something new. They can also help you develop a greater appreciation for different cultures and viewpoints.

In addition, museums can be a terrific way to connect with others who share your interests. If you’re feeling stressed or down, consider taking a trip to a local museum. It just might be the boost your mental health needs.

Chattanooga has museums for everyone, from the Creative Discovery Museum, where kids get to go hands-on with the exhibits, to the Hunter Museum, a favorite for art lovers and this writer. Chattanooga also has the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, so set your inner Sheldon Cooper free and go see some trains. Go visit a museum today.

9. Play Tourist for a Day

When most people think of tourism, they think of vacations spent in faraway and exciting places. However, there is another kind of tourism—the kind where you stay home and explore your city as if you were a visitor. This type of tourism can be just as fun and rewarding as traveling to distant places.

Pretending you’re a tourist has several mental health benefits. It can help lower anxiety levels by giving you a break from your normal routine, help you see your city in a new light, and increase your appreciation for Chattanooga's beauty and diversity.

Pretending to be a tourist can also promote social connectedness by providing an opportunity to connect with others who like the same things you do.

There are so many great things to see and do right in your own backyard. From Rock City and Ruby Falls to Coolidge Park and the City Trolley Tour, there’s a place and activity for everyone. Seeing Chattanooga with fresh eyes can remind you just how lucky you are to live in such a magnificent city. Plus, planning fun outings is an excellent way to bond with friends or family members.

10. Go on a Shopping Spree

It’s no secret that shopping can be therapeutic. When you’re feeling down, a new pair of shoes or the perfect jeans can give you a much-needed confidence boost. Did you know that there are actual mental health benefits to shopping?

Studies have shown that shopping can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and even increase self-esteem. Instead of reaching for another bottle of wine or a tub of ice cream, consider going for a stroll in your favorite store. You may just find that a little retail therapy is exactly what you need.

Whether you hit one of the city’s malls or visit any of the hundreds of other retail businesses, you will find exactly what you’re looking for in Chattanooga.

Take Back Control

Many things in the world can make you feel untethered, but making your mental health a priority will give you back a sense of control. Life is busy, and it's often tough to feel like you’ve got a handle on anything.

When you put your mental health first and seek fun activities to help you destress, you also take back your control. You get to decide what you buy, where you go, and how much you spend. This power boost can build you up, especially when you’re overwhelmed by other areas of your life.

Another positive benefit of engaging in fun activities is that it’s a great way to socialize. When you’re feeling isolated, going out and interacting with other people can make a world of difference. Often, simply being in a shared space with other people can help boost your mood and mental health.

There are lots of exciting activities you can do this fall in Chattanooga to improve your mental health. Get outside, take a cooking class, volunteer, explore museums, or do any of the other items listed above. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you enjoy yourself and take care of your mental health this November.

Until next time, keep fighting.

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Scott is a passionate advocate for mental health. He shares his own struggles of fighting bipolar disorder on his Speaking Bipolar blog while promoting positivity and understanding. Scott also publishes on Medium and Vocal.

Dunlap, TN
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