A DAY AT THE BEACH
Three winter survival hacks for landlocked ocean souls everywhere.
It’s almost February. The joy of the recent holiday season, along with the rosy tint of expectation for the new year, dim in the rearview. And the dreamy prospect of a spring break escape still lies just beyond the curve of the horizon.
Yes, folks, if you are an ocean lover not on a coast somewhere, you’re officially situated in the doldrums of winter.
Each morning, you shuffle your slipper-clad feet to the window to find that the snow has only gotten that much deeper overnight. At this point, either to the dog or perhaps to the season itself, you say ask, “What the hell, Winter?!” As usual, there will be no reply, from either the dog or the frigid season. Rude. The expectation of such reply only highlighting the compounding effects of cabin fever as the cold months drag on.
How did you get “here”? I don’t know. How did any of us get here, really? But if your story is anything like mine, it may involve a flurry of choices made by your twenty-something year old self, resulting in circumstances landing you smack dab in the middle of the country. That’s a story for another day.
For now, we just have to get through the last bit of winter, which also somehow feels like the longest bitter stretch. So what do we do when the only place we really want to be is 1000+ miles away on a beach in Key West?
If you’re reading this and it resonates with you at all, then you, my friend, will benefit from adding a few winter-survival hacks into your emergency kit to help see you through to your next island escape.
Study after study has shown that being by the ocean is good for you, especially your mental health. The blue colors and its rhythmic movement can boost your mood and spur creativity. And according to a study published in the Science journal, staring at the ocean can even change your brain waves’ frequency, putting you in “a mild meditative state”.
The sensory input we get when by the ocean, including breathing in the negative ions in the air, all conspire to activate our parasympathetic nervous system. The system responsible for slowing us down enough to relax, and consequently brining on a feeling of calm and peace.
Of course, this is all great news for when we can actually BE at the beach. In the meantime, try this in-the-moment quick fix to get your ocean hit. You can imagine it as kind of a, “Break the Glass in case of Emergency” tool.
There is no way around the fact that our thoughts have huge power. Flexing this mental strength and harnessing the power, is key for surviving the winter as a wayward beach goer stuck in the snow.
This is perhaps the most powerful hack to get you through to your next saltwater experience. The good news is that it’s super simple and you only need a few minutes of time to fully recharge your tropical batteries.
Repeat this pattern breathing in time with the ocean...the waves coming in – holding for a moment - and moving back out...again...and then again...
Add any additional sensory details from your set of ocean memories to really fill out the space, personalizing it and making it a fully immersive experience. Return when you are recharged and ready.
I’m a stickler for science, which makes me very happy to share that travel is an elevator for our level of happiness, empathy, and creativity. Ahhhh, yeah – sign me up! Importantly however, especially for packing in our winter survival kits, is that this science also suggests that even just thinking about a trip can give your brain a much need boost. In fact, a 2014 study from Cornell University reported that planning and the anticipation of a trip can be almost as enjoyable as going on the trip itself. I personally do want to actually go on the trip, but the point being, and the science of it IS, that we are at our happiest when we have a vacay planned.
Planning a trip, any trip, that results with your toes in the sand and the smell of ocean friendly sunscreen on your nose, gives you something tangible to look forward to. It anchors you to something positive in the future, and gives a goal to work toward, day-by-day getting you beyond the snow and cold in front of you in this moment. Give it a try!
Lord knows it’s not the ocean, but this hack can be a true life saver during the winter doldrums. If you haven’t heard as of yet, experts across the board in every realm of human health say, that we benefit from head to toe by spending time in nature.
If you are feeling run down, sluggish, uninspired, disconnected then this hack could be a game changer. Once you’ve got your trip planned, in #2, and have spent an immersive five minutes taking your mind to the beach in #1, get out for a walk or run to realign your outlook on the day. I’m not one for enjoying the cold, but with my warm jacket and winter hiking boots I can hit the creek trail, going in as an ogre and come out as, well, not an ogre.
There are a lot of cleaver names that have popped up for this practice, among my favorites are: forest bathing, ecotherapy, sun-seeking, green time, wilderness cure and so on. Whatever you would like to call it, the science backed practice of getting outside to any natural area that is accessible to you, can relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, boost creativity, increase feelings of happiness, and generally just get you unstuck from circling the drain in a winter funk.
At the end of the day, perhaps the most important thing to understand and remember, is that it is all connected. We are irrefutably connected to nature, and nature intertwined within itself, and all of it connected to the sea. There is not a day that goes by, where ever you are, that the ocean does not impact your day – from giving every two out of three breaths you breathe, to regulating the climate and local weather you experience. The ocean is part of everything. Considering this and that we humans evolved from living exclusively outdoors, it’s no wonder your brain benefits from a regular return to these wild spaces.
Take time for you - soak in some nature, flood your senses with the elements from the sea by tapping into your memories, and plan your next trip to Key West!
We will all follow a myriad of paths in this lifetime. Wander where you will, just be sure take a bit of the island life with you. Tucker’s Provisions.
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