Weekend Explorations

A new producer at a Miami television station wanted to explore the Everglades. She had never been to Florida before getting hired by the station, and was excited to check out her new “back yard.” She talked a handful of coworkers into joining her, many of whom had lived in Miami for years, but had never visited the unique national park.

It was a blistering hot day of paddling canoes through saw grass swamps, fending off fist-sized mosquitoes, spotting some illusive petite Key Deer and surprising quite a few sunning alligators. It was also a day punctuated by laughter and good-natured barbs about how she’d tricked them into risking their lives in a deadly environment of primordial ooze.

Besides being downright fun, adventures like that can be just what the doctor ordered. A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine revealed that such excursions rejuvenate the spirit, lower blood pressure and stress hormones, and improve your over-all sense of well being.

Too frequently when we have multiple demands on our time, leisure activities are the first thing to be eliminated. Scientists say that’s a mistake. These excursions, even just a day or weekend of doing something completely different and engaging, provide immediate health benefits while strengthening bonds with family and friends. When you get back into your demanding daily routine, you discover you’re much more able to cope with stress, and keep a better balance in your life.

A quick Internet search will reveal a long list of opportunities in your neck of the woods to pique your interest. Here are just a few ideas, broken into several categories:

Family Time: If you’re looking for fun activities to appeal to the entire family, start by pinning down dates for local and regional festivals and fairs. Seasonal favorite activities include hayrides in the fall, skiing and sledding in the winter and picking your own blueberries and other produce in the summer. Families who enjoy the great outdoors will love spending a day on or in the water, touring area botanical gardens and wildlife preserves, and hiking the trails.

Educational Trips: Make learning a hands-on adventure with a visit to historical sites, particularly those that do live reenactments. Planetariums and observatories appeal to kids of all ages, and just might spark the curiosity of a future astrophysicist. You could be lucky enough to find an archeological dig site that teaches volunteers some basic skills, and then allows them to assist in an excavation. LocalHarvest.org is a website that tracks down working farms near specific cities, and lets you know when tours are available. Businesses that offer equine assisted learning and therapy opportunities frequently host open-house sessions, where the public can interact with horses to experience their healing presence.

Weekend Excursions: For those times when you’re lucky enough to have several days to devote to your adventure, think BIG, and venture off the beaten path. Consider a stay at a quaint bed and breakfast, a tour through wine country, renting a sailboat with sleeping quarters, staying on a farm or a dude ranch, or camping in a national forest. Many give you the option of wilderness camping, bringing in an RV, or renting a cabin or tent for a few nights.

No matter what kind of adventure you choose, know that you’ll return home with a new perspective, lots of good memories, and a feeling of accomplishment that will continue to enrich your life for a long time to come.

Enrich your body, mind and spirit with a life-affirming visit to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego or Austin, Texas. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.