How to Find a Free and Natural Therapist

sunset

As my school semester comes to a close and the holiday seasons quickly approaches, I can’t help but whine to my boyfriend about all the stresses in my life (as if we all don’t have them and I’m the only one to carry the burden).

Although both men and women suffer from stress in their lives, studies show that women are more emotional when it comes to dealing with stress but also that acute and chronic stress may take a greater toll on womens’ physical and mental health.  From weight gain to insomnia to hair loss, women show their symptoms more so than our male counterparts.

What does this have to do with my blog about women and the outdoors?  The outdoors can help.  Even smelling the outdoors may help.

Being outside raises our serotonin levels which help to regulate our moods.  The more serotonin, the more satisfied and happy we feel.  If you have ever heard of what they call a “runner’s high,” this neurotransmitter is responsible.  A study suggested that women who run outside are less likely to feel anxious than those running on a treadmill and are more likely to experience higher levels of post-exercise endorphins, or happy-feel brain chemicals.

Operation patients with an outdoor view are less likely to feel as much pain and experience faster healing than those spending fewer days gazing on the green scene.

Not only does the sight of green help with the healing process, but the smell of grass was found to have a significant calming effect on out-of-control drivers.  If it works for drivers, it can work for women outside.

Activity isn’t always necessary to de-stress.  Women can experience relaxation in the outdoors simply by being outside, breathing deeply and enjoying a beautiful day. bird

In a society where relaxation is considered a nap on the couch still holding a remote or a date with our Netflix account, taking a walk outside, working out in the outdoors or taking a moment to reap the benefits of the aromatic therapy that can be provided by pines and other plants can be just as beneficial.

Studies show that finding your center can help reduce the stress in your life.  The outdoors provides women with a full body experience of a breeze blowing through hair, the smell of grass and dirt at their noses and the sun on their skin.

So before you let yourself freak out about all the tasks you must complete, the papers you must write, that pile of papers to organize on your desk, allow yourself a moment of serenity by taking advantage of what is free and what is natural: the outdoors.

For more information about reducing stress in the outdoors, check out this awesome article on Huffington Post: http://www.athleta.net/2011/02/23/reduce-stress-in-the-great-outdoors/

What would Captain Planet Do? 10 Steps to Avoid Water Pollution

captain planet

Courtesy of comicvine.com

Water pollution is an issue.

We don’t think about it often in the United States where bottled-water snobs turn their noses up at Aquafina but reach into their office mini-fridges for a Dasani but, around the world, clean drinking water has become a commodity more difficult to find.

Despite the appearance of a the water stores of a first-world country, the United States allows water to run off roads covered in chemicals, dirt, trash and disease-carriers without a second thought to an issue that threatens quality of life and public health every day.  Sure, the Clean Water Act, instated by the National Resource Defense Council, demands that sewage industries and others reduce their pollution of streams and lakes but the real problem exists in our backyards, our homes, our communities and even our cars.  The average U.S. residence uses approximately 100,000 gallons of water a year according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

As every outdoorswoman knows, water provides us with not only a basic need but a place to swim, fish, boat and tan alongside so it is important to take steps necessary to conserve the pure drinking water available to us.

The National Resource Council provides us with “10 simple ways you can help reduce pollution and run-off” which I list and discuss below:

  1. Avoid hard, unnatural surfaces around your home. Concrete, asphalt, that fake golfing grass… all of these encourage water to run every which way to exit your yard.  Water is best filtered through grass or soaked through porous material such as soil.  Don’t want ants or bugs crawling on your feet while you sit outside?  Use wood decking instead of concrete.
  2. Plant native plants and use natural fertilizers.  By doing so, you are insuring our drinking water stays chemical-free.
  3. Don’t over-water lawns or gardens.  Water conservation is just as important as reducing water pollution.
  4. Be sure to recycle and throw trash away properly.  Never flush non-degradable objects (plus, these may clog your toilet so just don’t do it!).  This includes pet waste.  Keep anything you wouldn’t want in your drinking water away from any drainage areas.
  5. Never dispose of chemical products such as paint and cleaning supplies by flushing them down the drain.  Your local sanitation center can take care of these hard-to-dispose products.  Just give them a call.
  6. Use non-toxic household products.  Not only will this protect your water but it will protect your children and pets.
  7. Recycle motor oil you’ve used.  Just like Office Depot can reuse printer ink cartridges, some auto parts places can re-use oil.  Remember, 250,000 gallons of water can be polluted by a single quart of motor oil poured out on the ground.
  8. Go to the car wash!  An at-home car wash uses twice the amount of water a drive-through car wash does.  Some of these professional car wash places even recycle “dirty” water.  It’s a good excuse to avoid a grueling chore.
  9. Tattle, tattle, tattle.  If you see someone, something or some industry polluting or contaminating a water source, alert your local environmental protection group.  Better yet, join one yourself and become a better citizen of the world which leads us to number 10…
  10. Be an activist.

Remember, your mom and your dad would want you to recycle… Check out this PSA from the 70s brought to you by the U.S. Coast Guard and Owens Corning Fiberglass.

What to Do When Mother Nature Calls…

toilet

Courtesy of buriedwithchildren.com

You’re camping.  The serenity is just what you needed.  The breeze sways the treetops, the fire is warm and crackling, you’ve got your beloved s’mores complete with Hersey’s chocolate.  The brook is babbling.

The brook is babbling?!  What do you do when nature calls but you’re a lady who is stuck in nature?

Keep calm and fear not.  This post is dedicated to the age-old female problem of using the little girls’ room in the great, wide open space that is the outdoors.  Avoid the ridicule of your masculine counterparts by being prepared and keeping that complaint about lack of proper equipment to yourselves and read on.

Supplies

Unless the idea of wiping with a waxy leaf or some stray pine needle sprays is appealing to you, be sure to provide your own toilet paper.  Chances are, if you are camping with anyone but your mother, the will not think to pack your favorite Charmin despite the cute, woodsy bear mascot on the package.  One roll should cover you but remember, friends are made where extra T.P. is had.

The Scenic Location

Be sure to seek out a secluded spot of wilderness so you won’t be disturbed.  Be aware of sloped ground leading down to the nearest clean water.  No one wants contamination to be an issue… or their sneakers to become victims. 

Last but not least, be sure your pants are where you can see them at all times.  No one wants to re-live their embarrassing preschool “accident” days and find it necessary to use the precautionary “accident pants.” 

The How-to Do…. Do

pine trees

Courtesy of reflectiveimages.com

 

I highly recommend the assisted squatty-potty.  This is done by propping oneself against one of nature’s best oxygen-producing friends, a tree.  Be sure you choose one on level ground and bend your knees as to not disturb the flow. 

According to CampingTrip.com, there are other ways to achieve the worry-free outdoor pee including holding onto a thinner-trunked tree (which can hold your weight!) and leaning back, finding an abandoned log or stump and scooting forward, and the buddy system.  The buddy system isn’t for the shy or the new friend you made because you brought that extra toilet paper.  It involves gripping a friend’s hands and leaning back to simultaneously go at once.

Like I said, not for the faint-hearted or faint-stomached.

The camping experience shouldn’t be one of anxiety or discomfort.  Once you brave the chill of the night air or the solitude that is not your Clorox-scrubbed home bathroom, we ladies can pitch camp with the best of them.

How to Avoid Being A Fool on April Fool’s Day- Lessons Through Photos

As a tribute to all of the foolish times I’ve had on the water (and as a warning to the rest of you), I have posted some of my best insights into what to avoid in all your Woman, Water, Wild escapades…

Don't hold sharks

Don’t hold the sharks without gloves for protection… Their sandpaper skin will give you rub burn!

The Burren

Never stand this close to a ledge on a day when the water is rough… the oysters will cut you, the waves will rough you up and, if all else fails, the rocks won’t be fun.

bloody fish

Always bring a rag with you in case the hook leaves a fish bloody…

bad boat picture 1 bad boat picture 2 bad boat picture 3

Be sure you’ve got stable footing on the deck before snapping a picture… You might miss an opportunity to capture a quick moment (like a fish before it jumps off the hook!).

boat blanket

Dress appropriately for the type of weather you’re most likely to experience… Rain, cold or sunshine.

wakeboarder

Wear a helmet when wake-boarding or water skiing.  Water may seem like a gentle, soft place to land but surface tension  begs to differ.

fishing in the keys

Be sure to pull and then reel, pull and then reel… This technique takes the tension off your line which decreases its chances of snapping!

spear fishing

Keep one person on the boat at all times.  Not only does this insure that it stays in the same place (even if there’s an anchor dropped).  Not to mention, someone can take pictures of all the action!

wading

Always be safe and aware or you might find yourself stuck in the mud!

Happy April Fools’ Day!

How to Avoid and Survive a Rip Current

As an adventurous, water-faring women and a retired competitive swimmer, I tend to be over-confident in my swimming skills.  Nothing says competent like confidence to a woman; however, there are instances in which I admit I should take the cautious route and one of those situations is rip currents.

Rip Current Round Island

PHOTO CREDIT: Debbie Seagrave

A rip current, by definition, is a current of water that forms when waves moving from deep to shallow water break, or tumble over and turn into white foam, and cause a pull of water to go back out to sea.  These currents can move at a rate of 8 feet per second, faster than an Olympic swimmer like Ryan Lochte.

For weak or beginning swimmers, these currents become one of the biggest risks of enjoying a day at the beach.  For stronger swimmers like me and the majority of my readers, rip currents still poise a threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

According to the United States Lifeguarding Association webpage, over 100 people in the United States each year die from being caught and getting over-exhausted in a rip current.  If those numbers alone aren’t enough to scare you, the 80% of ocean rescues being because of rip currents should make you stop in your swim lane.

Here are a few rip current safety tips according to weather.com:

  • Swim in a lifeguarded beach as often as possible.
  • Don’t swim by yourself!
  • Keep 100 feet between yourself and piers, jetties or other permanent structures.
  • Consider using polarized sunglasses (I prefer my RayBans but any polarized pair can be helpful to spot those rough patches telling of rip currents).

And the tips to survive if youHumiston Beach Fancy find yourself in a rip current:

  • Stay calm.  This conserves energy and helps you think more clearly.
  • DO NOT fight the current.
  • Start swimming parallel to the current until you’re out and then swim at an angle towards the shore.
  • If you’re unable to swim out of the current, float or tread water calmly and wait until you’re out of the current to swim to shore.
  • WHEN AT A LOSS, wave your arms, yell for help and draw attention to yourself and a lifeguard will assist you.

Even the most confident swimmers and the most knowledgeable ocean-goers get caught in rip currents.  As women, we have the tendency to let our thoughts fill our head with noise but when stuck in a “current” situation we have to focus on the now: getting out.

So use those powerful lower body muscles that women are famous for and tread water.  Soon enough, you’ll be safely sunning on the shore once again.