It’s almost officially the start of a new summer! The sun is up and the days are longer now—all I want to do is lounge around outside! But despite the fact that I’m done with school until fall, I still seem to be busy nearly all day every day. As usual, I feel like I’m trying to cram more into each day than is physically possible. So to balance out my desire to spend all of my time lying in the sun with my need to get things done, I’ve been trying to find ways to be productive outside. I’ve been finding some really nice locations that I can hike to. When I need to write, instead of using my laptop which can be a pain to drag around up and down the hills of Ithaca, I’ve started hand-writing my work in notebooks. I just pick a spot by a nice pond or stream and plop down and start writing. There are so many lovely wooded areas around, that I can nearly find a new spot every day. Instead of going to the gym, I get my exercise by doing this walking back and forth through woods and up and down hills every day, and I am definitely keeping in shape just as well. I’ve been avoiding the indoors as much as possible, and it’s been great so far.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that I genuinely feel happier when I spend more time outside. I’m sure by now everyone has heard of those studies that say sunlight is beneficial, but I’m surprised how much it really seems to be working for me! I’m calmer, happier, more relaxed and generally less anxious when I spend the majority of my time outdoors. And honestly, this isn’t just the case when it’s sunny. Even on overcast days, I feel so much better when I walk around outside than if I just spend my day in my bedroom, or even at the gym or in a movie theater.
I’ve realized that bedrooms and indoors are associated with doing work and being trapped in my mind, to a certain degree. But if I’m outside—even if I’m doing the same work I would have been doing inside—I feel significantly more free. When I’m sitting in the woods or on the edge of a field, I have a comforting feeling that tells me I can go anywhere I want to. I get the feeling that if I wanted to run, I could. And I can! Sometimes when I’m getting frustrated with something I’m trying to write or figure out, I will just put my stuff down and run through the trees for a bit, until I start smiling and relaxing again. It might sound a little strange, but it’s so nice.
Ever since I was a kid, water has always attracted me. Ponds, fountains, creeks, waterfalls… they all make me feel so calm. Especially when there is wildlife involved. Seeing fish or frogs or turtles in a pond, or watching a deer drink from a stream always makes me smile.
Is there anything in nature that draws you in, makes you feel relaxed? And if so, how could you use that to help de-stress you? If you like the sound of birds chirping, is there anywhere you can go to hear that and calm down?
Nature is not for everyone, but I know a lot of people who benefit a lot from finding nice places outdoors to sit and do their work. It can have such a beautiful and tranquil effect.
What are some fun or interesting ways in which you’ve been able to incorporate some good outdoors time into your daily life? Sports and neighborhood barbecues are good ways, but what else? There’s so much to do out there!
Next time you’re stressed, I recommend you go outside and take a deep breath. Walk around for a bit and see if you feel better… I know I always do.