Fresh air, big trees, your happinessBlog May 15, 2022
Did you know that Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the United States in May since 1949? I had no idea until I googled it. I am totally ill equipped to write about mental health issues so I’ve asked two of our members who are professionals in this realm to share their thoughts on the benefits of being outside with regard to mental health. Personally, I know that when I’m having a rough day, feeling anxious or a lack of centeredness, getting out for an easy walk in the woods can shift my brain and my mood into a better place. If you’re interested in the interplay between nature and mental health (and physical health), I recommend reading a book called The Nature Fix by Florence Williams (this link will take you to the site of Back Cove Books (PPH article about the launch), which is a new book store coming to Woodford’s Corner in late fall and is owned by a dear friend and former babysitter of my kids – Becca Morton).
Thank you to LAC members Laura Mazikowski and Nancy Baker Miller for sharing their thoughts this week.
Many people drawn to the outdoors intuitively know what recent studies have shown: spending time outdoors correlates with positive mental health benefits. These benefits include decreased anxiety and improved mood, attention and focus. People generally describe this as feeling less stressed and more relaxed. A less frequently discussed benefit of spending time in the natural world is the cultivation of a sense of awe, an experience of connecting to wondrous curiosity and appreciation for the natural world. Noticing the unique expression, the wisdom and beauty of the landscape, plants and creatures can stir feelings of gratitude as well as the existential experience of being a part of something bigger than us. Clearly there are certain outdoor experiences that easily evoke the experience of awe: for example, standing at the foot of a Giant Redwood tree or at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Fortunately, however, the potential to cultivate awe is as close as our nearest city park or our backyards. We need only bring our curiosity and receptivity to what is happening around us in order to develop and connect to our sense of wonder and awe.
Laura Mazikowski is a psychotherapist in Portland, ME. She loves being outside and loves immersing herself in the natural world in a myriad of ways.
Oh the blessings Mother Earth provides us with opportunities to be present in nature! It is a fact that being outside in the woods, relaxing at a lake or ocean, standing atop a mountain, or just walking in your neighborhood or nearby park, increases you overall inner sense of well-being. If you are able to use your senses to be truly present you will experience a lighter, calmer mood and reduce cortisol in your body, which helps to relieve stress. And the sunshine provides Vitamin D (please use sunscreen!), which helps to boost your mood. Take notice of the stillness in the trees and the tulips blossoming, smell the lilacs, feel the grass or dirt beneath your feet, listen to the songbirds, taste the berries soon to be ready for picking. If you need extra grounding to take all that is available in nature, perhaps add in a bit of mindfulness with a loving kindness mantra of “May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease.” And breathe.
Nancy Baker Miller, LCSW
Here’s a chance to be in nature and in community – the LAC is partnering with L.L. Bean on Wednesday, July 13th for a LAC-only sunset/full moon tandem kayak adventure led by the Outdoor Discovery Program folks.
Date: July 13th
Time: 7-10 p.m.
Leaves from L.L. Bean’s paddling center in Freeport
All paddling gear provided
Cost is $79/person
If you’d like one of the 14 spots, please call the reservation center at 888-270-2326 and confirm your reservation. Mention the Ladies Adventure Club when you call. It promises to be a fabulous evening adventure!
Many of you know Catherine Fisher, one of the founding members of the LAC. She has launched her own clothing company, Catherine Fisher Clothing, and recently my mom, Carla Marcus and I had the honor of modeling her clothes for a Mother’s Day photo shoot. Please check out Catherine’s very special clothing line. Each piece is inspired by one of Catherine’s poems. Not only is she an inspired clothing designer, she is also a gifted poet.
Our next LAC community gathering is on Thursday, June 30th.
No need to sign up; just show up!
Location: Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth
Date: Thursday, June 30th
Time: Meet at 5:00 p.m. for a 2.5-3.0 mile walk (trailhead TBD). 6:30 BYO picnic on the beach. 7:30ish Ice cream at Kettle Cove Creamery.
You are welcome to join for all or some of the evening. Bring your favorite blanket, beach/camp chair, and, if you’d like, invite a female friend (maybe someone new to Portland).
Flowfold is offering a 25% off coupon to all LAC community members. Use this code when you order from this well-regarded, community-minded, Maine-based company: LAC25
Upcoming Community Adventures
☀️ April 20-June 29: Women’s Hike Night at Pineland Farms
☀️ May 16-20: Maine Audubon Warbler Walk
☀️ May 16: Two Maine Mermaids Full Moon Dip
☀️ May 21: Alewife Bike Ride with Alicia
☀️ May 21: Becoming an Outdoors Women
☀️ May 24 & 25: Banff Film Festival
☀️ June 4: National Trails Day event with Portland Trails
☀️ June 11: Maine Canoe Symposium
☀️ June 30: LAC Community Gathering at Kettle Cove
☀️ July 13: LAC & L.L. Bean Sunset/full Moon Tandem Kayak Adventure
☀️ July 14: Oyster Tour with Alicia (more info to come)
☀️ July 22-24: Ladies Hike, SUP, and Yoga Camping Retreat
☀️ August 14-16: Camp Adventures for Grown-Ups