The Many Benefits Of Vacationing Near Rivers
Grayling is known for its beautiful rivers – the AuSable and Manistee wind dreamily through this place, offering sanctuary and resources not only to many kinds of fish and birdlife, but also to the Americans who come here seeking a bit of peace and quiet. The rivers provide a lot in the way of ‘enrichment’ – visitors can fish, paddle the waters in kayaks, or simply sit and dip their feet in the water. However, the benefits of a river-based vacation also go a lot deeper than this. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that large bodies of water (such as our beloved rivers!) can provide a number of mental health benefits. Anyone who takes a vacation near rivers is likely to return feeling refreshed, stress-free, happier, and calmer than when they arrived…
Water Reduces Stress
There’s a big problem with stress in the world at the moment. More and more of us are succumbing to the pressures of modernity. We’re anxious, we’re depressed, we’re harried, and we’re signally failing to treat ourselves with the care and respect that we should. It’s not a good situation, and it’s leading to something of a public health crisis.
Luckily, it seems that something as simple as being near water can help. Scientists have found that the very act of looking at a landscape containing large bodies of water can calm us right down, reduce stress levels, and make us feel more peaceful. Nobody is really sure why this is – the colour-combination of green and blue appears to have something to do with it – but there are a few theories. Perhaps the slow, regular movement of the water focuses our attention, and calms us in a semi-hypnotic kind of way. Perhaps the sight of water brings to mind childhood vacations, or happy summer days playing in the seas, rivers, and lakes when we were young. Perhaps it’s deeper than this – rivers, for our ancestors, were a valuable resource. They provided not only essential, thirst-quenching water, but also food in the form of fish. Edible vegetation also tends to grow up around sources of fresh water. Perhaps, when we look out over a watery landscape, the ancient parts of our brains are soothed with the thought of the river’s bounty.
Some people even theorise that we spent a portion of our evolution as wading mammals – living partially in the water. This, in theory, explains why humans are relatively hairless, and why we have certain adaptations usually only seen in aquatic mammals (subcutaneous fat, for example, and an instinct to hold our breath when we go underwater). This ‘aquatic ape theory’ remains unproven, but it makes interesting reading when you consider our modern adoration of rivers, lakes, and the sea!
Water Lifts Our Mood
Humans, in common with some (but not all!) other animals, have an intense interest in shiny things. We covet diamonds, glittering jewellry, and our eyes are irresistibly drawn to anything which glints and glimmers. This is a bit of a mystery from an evolutionary point of view. After all, you can’t eat gold, you can’t drink diamonds, and the ‘shinier’ metals are no good for making weapons from. So why do we like shinies so much?
Well, some people think that it’s because the flash of the sun on the sparkling facets of a jewel reminds us of the sun glinting on a distant water source. Even today, many modern humans in drier, less developed parts of the world spend much of their days scanning the horizon for the flash of reflected sunlight which indicates much-needed water. And, when they see that flash, their moods (understandably) skyrocket.
Here in America, we hardly ever need to spend our days looking out for the water we need to survive. However, for a long, long time, our ancestors did. Our brains haven’t forgotten that. So, when we see water (or, in fact, anything shiny), our brains ‘reward’ us for finding said water with a little burst of feel-good chemicals. So, when you head to the rivers for your vacation, you’re not only going to reduce your stress levels, but also to improve your mood in general! What more excuse do you need to pack your bags and head out here?
Article from Freelance Author Gemma Taylor