I know that just about every time I go to the seashore—no matter what time of year—I’m likely to end up taking off my shoes and walking in the water. It’s an ancient urge, this plunge into the salty edge. I return with my bare feet draped in fragrant seaweed and salt lines on my rolled up pants; my hair matted and disheveled as if I were a homesick castaway clinging to a rescue boat that finally came ashore. I return happy.
Those of us who live in northern climes wait all winter for that first trip to the beach. We grab floppy hats and sandals from the back of our closets and call in “sick” to work, justifying it as a mental health day with a wink for the friend we roped into coming with us.
Life IS a Day at the Beach!
It turns out that that day at the beach might just be the best thing you could do for yourself—not just for your mental health, but also for your body. Research shows that time in nature can reduce levels of heart damaging stress hormones like cortisol; lower blood pressure and heart rates; decrease depression; and increase cognition and levels of creativity.
The information age demands much of the frontal lobe of our brain, which lights up like the night sky on the July 4th while we multi-task and toggle between twitter feeds, conversations, and work tasks. Focused time in nature activates other parts of our brains, giving our fatigued frontal lobe a break. Areas of our brain associated with emotions, pleasure and empathy can now take over, providing a calming influence that is measurable in brain scans and blood tests alike.
Take a Nature Break
So the next time you’re feeling stressed, I hope you’ll take a moment to give your mind some love. Go for that walk outside. Take the mental health day at the beach. Pay attention to how the light and shadows look and notice the smells and feel of your feet on the earth. You won’t disengage your frontal lobe if you’re multitasking, half frazzled running through the woods to get some exercise, listening to your i-pod and mentally ticking off the errands you need to do after. A mindful and present break will save you time in the long run, as you’ll return refreshed and ready to work effectively and creatively.
A Barn Cat Named Gustav
Now what does this all have to do with a barn cat and a lucky dress, you ask? Sometime last fall I received an email from Karina, who knew I lived on a farm. She had a wonderful mouser living in the Karina warehouse in Brooklyn named King Gustav, whom she thought desperately wanted to be an outdoor kitty. Would I take him?
We enthusiastically took in Gustav (because a cat named Gustav certainly belonged at farm named Jo-Erl) and in an act of kindness Karina gave me a wonderful blue and lavender polka-dotted Lauren dress. So many good things happened to me when I was wearing my Karina dress that I simply started calling it “my lucky dress.”
Join Us On Block Island
By chance, I was wearing that lucky dress when I was asked by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols to present at BlueMind3 on Block Island, RI on May 30th, a groundbreaking conference that explores the neuroscience of conservation. I’ll be presenting with explorer Celine Cousteau (grand-daughter of Jacque Cousteau) and Helen Riess, Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital about young people’s deep connections to the ocean. What role might our largest feature of our biosphere—our ocean—play in young people’s lives? How might that serve our conservation efforts? What does our brain look like “on blue?”
I hope you’ll join us on May 30th by signing up for the free, live-stream of the event.
Enter Our Karina “Lucky” Dress Giveaway
To celebrate this special event Karina Dresses is giving away a free Karina Dress of your choosing. Enter to win by June 2nd when winners will be announced by signing up for the Karina Newsletter and also get news about special discounts and happenings in Karina Nation.
Thank you, Karina Dresses for sharing the love and spreading the good luck!!