Working Out Stress in the Great Outdoors

Paddle into Light
Get out and get active in summer.

Summer is here. Get out and get active. School is out and the last six months have been straight out. Whew! Time for some “me time” in summertime and to relieve stress in the body by getting it going and moving with the sensual rhythms of nature. A human-powered activity that gets you outside and physically active can be a way to wellness and is often a peak experience, when you are enlivened and happy in the flow of doing a loved creative thing in nature. With the body in motion, the calming arousal of sensory awareness in a natural environment balances mind and spirit. Physical activity increases oxygen in blood, boosts the immune system, stimulates brain function, improves mood and self-esteem, builds strength and agility, and reduces stress and moves it out of the body. Hiking, cycling, walking, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming or bird watching are healing opportunities that relax the mind, recharge the body, and refresh the spirit.

Maine is known as “Vacationland”. We are fortunate to have many scenic mountain, woodland, river, lake, and coastal habitats for recreation and experiencing the great outdoors. Enjoying the splendid spoils of summer in Maine is “the way life should be”, which is the message on a familiar sign that greets travelers on I-95 as they enter the state. From our southernmost sandy shores to the wilds of the northern woods, fresh air adventures are abundant and accessible at local and state parks, reserved lands, public beaches and watersheds, and historic sites. Getting out and getting physical in nature is a healthful way to spend a staycation or a vacation week at camp, and don’t forget to stay well-hydrated and bring the bug repellent.

When summer is hot and hazy there is always a great swimming hole nearby to cool you down in Maine, so wherever go, pack a bathing suit. The oceans are a crisp 60 degrees by mid-summer and the lakes have warmed into the mid-70’s. For me, I love open water swimming in the salty seawater of Ogunquit Beach and the pristine freshwater lakes of the Mid-coast region. Paddle boarding is another way to experience the water that requires core strength and balance, and it is a great mode for touring a body of water while getting your body moving. There are wonderful options for the outdoor adventurer, and if you don’t have the equipment for sporting there are ways to rent that paddle board or kayak, or take a guided nature tour, and in Maine there is always LL Bean to help outfit the fun – 24/7. Consider hanging a “gone fishing” sign at your busy office or home and leave your stresses behind. Take a summer break to recreate and re-create yourself in the great outdoors.

Art HOPE offers fresh air summer adventures that will get your body and creativity moving. Check out our Creative Wellness Walks at the Reserve at Laudholm and the Sea Water Studio on Ogunquit Beach, and other free programs on www.arthope.org.