One thing in my life that inspires (and calms) me more than anything else is being outdoors. I've written about this many times here on my blog and elsewhere, and you can read my tips in the post, Camping and Enjoying the Outdoors with ME/CFS. Check out this post which includes an article I wrote for ProHealth website on The Restorative Power of Nature, which was also edited and included in my book (notice the blue sky photo I choose for my book cover!). As that article explains, research shows that spending time outdoors has amazing positive effects on both physical and mental health. And for those of you who can't manage an outing to a park or are even bedridden, there's good news! Even just looking out a window or looking at photos of nature can have these same positive effects. I will share some of my own photos from this week so that you can enjoy and benefit from our outdoor adventures, too.
This past week, my husband and I were finally able to get out for a very quick camping trip with our pop-up camper, and it was so incredibly peaceful and calming for me! Besides my downturn these past six months, we are also caring for my husband's 95-year-old father. His cognitive function worsened severely with the isolation of lockdown, to the point where my husband was having to visit him twice a day, just to make sure he got up for his meals at least. So, with all that plus the pandemic, we have missed our usual relaxing camping trips this year. So, this week, we went to a local state park, Elk Neck State Park in Maryland, less than an hour away, and attempted a little mid-week day-and-a-half getaway!
|Water view from our campsite|
It was not entirely successful, since my father-in-law called the first morning with a bad toothaches, so we spent some time on the phone to him, the dentist, and our sons. But it was still incredibly rejuvenating just to be outdoors for a little bit and away from to-do lists, laptops, internet, etc. The campground was mostly empty, with just a few waterfront sites occupied, and we had our own site with a gorgeous water view.
|A mostly empty campground meant plenty of quiet!|
We fell asleep to the sounds of crickets and water lapping against the rocks near our campsite - ahhh, complete tranquility! And what a view to wake up to. This is one thing I love about our pop-up camper--the way you can just unzip the canvas and be surrounded by the outdoors even while you're inside.
|Sleeping surrounded by nature|
I felt well enough (!) to manage an easy walk to the beach, on a trail that led right from our campsite. This is one of our favorite things about this park: these secluded beaches, accessible only from the campground loops. We enjoyed a quiet stroll along the beach, watching the geese and cormorants (and one bald eagle!), listening to the gentle waves rolling in and enjoying the sunshine. This is the Elk River which empties into the Chesapeake Bay just past the park, which is on a peninsula.
|Peace and solitude on the beach|
I wasn't up to it this time, but there is also a lovely trail out to the point of the peninsula, with a lighthouse and amazing views out into the Chesapeake. The photo is from a previous trip.
|Us at the Elk Neck Lighthouse - Sept. 2018|
Mostly, though, we just relaxed and enjoyed the quiet peacefulness. I did a lot of reading!
|Relaxing and reading outdoors|
At night, we enjoyed a campfire, complete with a foil dinner cooked on the fire and--of course--s'mores for dessert.
|Enjoying an evening campfire|
I ended our trip with my usual morning yoga stretches with this amazing view.
|Yoga and water views!|
We had to rush back home so my husband could take his dad to the dentist, but that inspiring calm and quiet stayed with me.
Try it yourself! Open a window and listen to the birds (that's what I'm doing right now). Lie outdoors in a lounge chair and look up at the sky and clouds. Really focus on your senses and the natural world around you to reap the benefits and feel calmer and more peaceful.
Have a lovely day ... and get outside!