August is National Adventure Month! According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Adventurer Peter Kulkkula started this month to encourage us to celebrate and explore American lands. With over 400 different national parks, forests and wilderness areas, there is so much to be explored! Not to mention here in Vermont we are filled with lakes, mountains, historical places, and countless opportunities to explore and adventure in our home state. There truly is something for everyone to discover this month! Adventures are great for your health and wellbeing, connecting with others and the environment.
Yes, going on an outdoor adventure is literally good for your health! Studies show people who spend time in nature are more likely to have lower blood pressure, reduced stress and anxiety. A study undertaken by the University of Derby and Wildlife Trusts showed that people who were connected to nature for two months were happier and healthier and there was a direct link between increased exposure to nature and feeling better. Having a rough time? Get outside. It sounds simple, because it is, and it works!
Adventures are also a great chance to connect or reconnect with others. Especially during these Covid times, being outside is one of the safest ways to gather. Reach out to someone who you want to connect or reconnect and go for a walk, bike ride or paddle the lake. Being outside helps us to be less distracted from all the beeps and buzzes of electronics. Being outside has been shown to help people be more open and honest as well. You won’t only get some great fresh air and a little exercise, but you’ll be making great memories too.
Adventure connections can also be found outside of your social circle and more with the environment itself. Many people say they find peace and calm in nature, not to mention feeling refreshed and reenergized. John Lubbock said, “earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountains and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” Next time you have a chance to get outside, think about what draws your attention, what stills your mind and what you might be able to learn from taking time in nature.
If you aren’t sure how to “connect” with nature, you aren’t alone. Those who do it so freely might not be able to articulate it, but here’s our suggestion. Go outside, go for a walk, sit by some water, or even set out on your kayak. Then take a moment to just breathe. Notice how your breath gently comes in and out. Then notice what you can see, smell, taste, hear and feel. Take time to notice the five senses that allow you to become more present and mindful in your surroundings. Practice this over and over, giving yourself time to see new things, smell new smells and so on. Over time you may notice you are able to relax and enjoy your time in nature in a new way that makes you feel more connected.
Vermont is a very special place, so special that thousands of people come here each year to go on adventures! In addition, here in the NEK we know what amazing opportunities we have with nature all around us. Take advantage of this season to try something new. Walk, hike, bike or even drive somewhere new. Let your feet feel some new grass or dip into new waters. See how that feels and just be present in your adventure. You can take this even further by starting an adventure journal. Write about where you went, what you saw, smelled, heard, tasted, and felt. How did the overall experience make you feel? Did you try something new? Did you reach a new physical goal or emotional milestone?
It’s time, let’s get out there. Plan an adventure with a friend, partner, coworkers, kids, or your family. Maybe plan a workplace adventure or after work retreat, plan a family outing, even a solo adventure for just you or maybe you and your pet. Go climb, swim, or sit in a place that will let you connect and maybe even reconnect with yourself, others, and the environment. From our green mountains to the rumbling brooks, Vermont is the perfect place to adventure! Stay safe, have fun, and explore! Adventure is calling!
Director of The Wellness Center