Why a trip to the cottage is perfect for stress and anxiety
We take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later in life. All of these factors combined to provide for a perfect “stress” and “anxiety” storm. Taking some time out to relax is essential for your well-being, particularly your mental well-being.
But no matter how much we try to relax in the middle of the city—whether it’s enjoying a long brunch, wandering around a new art exhibit, or even heading to the spa—nothing helps us unwind like a trip to the lake. That combination of being in nature, at the water’s edge, engaging in physical activity, disconnecting from technology, and doing so around the ones you love is the ideal recipe for stress relief. It doesn’t take long to remember why a trip to the cottage seemed like such a good idea in the first place.
Therapeutic Effects of Forests
spending time in a forest can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and anger
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.
Also, research shows that nature is a natural stress-buster. So much so that physicians have actually started prescribing people suffering from stress, anxiety, and other ailments more time in natural environments.
But did you know being next to water has an even more powerful effect
“This deep biological connection has been shown to trigger an immediate response in our brains when we’re near water” marine biologist and author of the 2014 book Blue Mind, Wallace Nichols.
Nichols further argues that water is the antidote to the “red mind”, a state of anxiety created by increased urbanization and near-constant reliance on technology.
So we can see why a Long drive is definitely worth it rather than a few-minute walk down the street. But it’s not simply the sight of un-manicured foliage that makes the cottage the ideal setting to decompress—it’s being next to the water. There is more and more scientific evidence these days to support this feeling of peacefulness when we spend time near the water.
In fact, a study at the University of Exeter medical school found that even just looking at pictures of water can calm anxiety or stress.
If just sitting in nature is good for you, then what more can being active in a natural environment do.
It turns out that exercising in the presence of nature can have health benefits beyond getting your blood pumping. Studies show that exercising in natural environments can have positive effects on self-esteem and improve your mood, and the effect is especially noticed in people with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
Exercising around water may be optimal, but any natural environment is beneficial.
Jogging down your favorite trail, going for an early morning dip, heck, even chopping wood will do the trick. But slow, repetitive paddle sports like canoeing and kayaking can add an extra dose of mindfulness to your morning workout.
The Huge Benefits of Unplugging
Our lives have become even more connected to the digital world, and for good reason. But, there are benefits to unplugging sometimes.
Even cottages have wifi but there’s something about it—the change in environment, being in tighter quarters, or cooking meals together—that reminds people to put their phones down. And taking the time to unplug even temporarily, can have huge benefits for your well-being.
According to Dr. Nancy Cheever, spending too much time on your phone may be causing you to feel stress and anxiety. “If you’re constantly connected, you’re going to feel anxiety,” Cheever said. “And the more people feel anxiety, that can lead to other things like mental health and physical ailments.”
Reconnecting With Life
Disconnecting from the digital world can also help you appreciate the real one because you’re more focused on the world around you and having the chance to socialize with loved ones in a technology-free environment, away from the stresses of day-to-day life, can be just as good for you.
That’s why unplugging on occasion can be so healthy. It’s reclaiming that dominance in our own lives, controlling how much access we give to the digital world. With it, we can access the health benefits that can improve our health and well-being.