I recently read an article about the therapeutic effects of water. Science has proven that—whether you’re taking a dip, listening to the sound of a fountain or a babbling brook, or simply being near the shore of a lake, bay, or ocean—water helps reduce stress. The article noted that even having paintings and photographs of water in your home or office can create a sense of serenity.
As I write this column, I’m looking out my window at ocean waves breaking on the beach. Peter and I are condo-sitting for friends who are out of town, and I am relishing the opportunity to be by the ocean.
I grew up in Sandbridge when it was a small, isolated community and spent as much time as I could on the beach throughout the four seasons. Even in the windswept winter months, I loved walking on the beach and felt that the wind helped carry my cares away. Hearing the waves and watching them crash on the shore in a cosmic rhythm soothed me. To this day when I need to calm down, I listen to a soundtrack of waves, and I feel a sense of peace take over.
As summer winds down and temperatures drop a bit, it’s the perfect time to plan water-based activities for your family. There are so many ways to enjoy the water in Coastal Virginia. Here are a few:
- Spend a day at the beach. Bring an umbrella, comfy chairs, and sunscreen since the sun can still burn in late summer. Pack a cooler with cold drinks and sandwiches. Don’t forget to bring a ball or Frisbee to toss. Jump in the waves with your kids and savor the smell of sea air and sounds of seagulls calling and waves breaking. Snuggle with your kids and nap in the shade of your umbrella. Leave your phones at home.
- Rent a kayak or a SUP from a local outfitter and explore our local waterways. Paddling quietly in a peaceful cove reminds us of how much we need to escape into nature. As you glide through the water, you’ll feel your endorphins rise and your stress levels melt away.
- Grab a body board or surfboard and feel the rush of energy when you catch a wave and ride it to shore. Being immersed in water—whether floating, swimming, or surfing—puts your body into a “flow” state where you lose track of time and tune into the moment. It’s pure pleasure.
- Go fishing with your kids. You can find a quiet spot by a pond or lake, set up your chairs, and cast your lines. If the fish aren’t biting, be patient. With nothing to distract you, it’s a great time to talk to your child about everything and nothing. Before you know it, you’ll feel a tug on your line and maybe reel in a prize catch you can cook up for dinner.
- Play in a summer downpour if thunder and lightning aren’t a threat. Put on your bathing suits, grab a squirt gun or some water balloons, and get soaking wet. Stop and listen to the rain and watch how it makes the plants and flowers and trees in your yard come alive. Smell the fresh negative ions in the air.
I hope you take the time to enjoy some water this month—even if it’s taking a bath in the privacy of your home. Add some bubbles and escape from the world for a while. You won’t believe how something so simple will make you feel renewed and refreshed. We all need to charge our batteries now and then—even our kids. Take advantage of our waterways and enjoy some quality time with your family before the cool winds of autumn start to blow.