Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Hiking For The Win

I mentioned a few posts ago that I'm on Spring Break right now, while also on the "stay at home" plan given our global health issues. As a way to offer up a change of scenery to my family, we went to a state park that is about a half an hour away from home. The spring weather was upon us and it was a perfect day to be outside. Better yet, after a week at home, in "Spring Break mode but yet not," it was the perfect time to NOT be at home.

My family and I needed the fresh air, time to move our body (and scale some mega hills), to hear the birds, to hear at the sound of the water, to get the chance to skip some stones, to embark on nature's scavenger hunt, to be in a no-phone-zone. The purposeful unplugging was what I needed to stop endless, mindless scrolling of Apple News & Facebook, too much texting, and stalking different health websites and pandemic maps. It was 2 hours well spent, just "being." It really was bliss and a welcome respite. I think for all 4 of us!

A day or so after our hiking adventure, I ran across this Collective Evolution article by Alanna Ketler, published nearly 4 years ago, entitled "Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains." Despite its age, it's still timely--perhaps moreso in this time of being banished under social distancing and house arrest. The woods and hiking were the perfect place to be and the perfect change of pace. I had been finding myself during this week very unfocused. I had just come off a huge project, and I knew I was on the cusp of embarking on remote learning right after my 2 week break, so I felt the need to take some level of an actual break. But most of my week was more in canceling my planned pre-pandemic travel plans, couch potatoing, website surfing and news overloading, leaving a low-to-high-grade sense of anxiety, lack of focus, tiredness, and overall aimlessness.

Just as Ketler's article suggests, everything that I needed to change my brain was really out in those woods. Along with our trek, it reminded me of everything I have read and know about the calm that comes with time from outdoors. The reduction in stress hormones and mental fatigue. The ability to improve focus. The major points of the article come in its headings:
It also was a good opportunity for family togetherness--something you'd think we'd have more than enough of in the house we've been in for a week. But with teens and devices and their own rooms to hole up in, quality time doesn't happen the way you'd think it would with our "quarant-teens." 

The shared experience gave our family new scenery to ponder, the outer world to investigate, and even the opportunity to help Mom cross the stream by way of walking across the fallen tree--all without falling off and into the stream below! It was just what the doctor ordered! We need to make more time for it!

Photos from my phone--who's only use & purpose that day was to snap some shots, map our route, and in case of emergencies. All other phones stayed safely locked in the car--much to the original chagrin of my teens, but a well-played Mom move that reaped its rewards!

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