Self-care is the active process of improving your quality of life by focusing on your physical, mental, and emotional health. We know that we can usually alleviate stress and physical ailments through exercise, eating healthfully, meditating, and sleeping well. But that is often easier said than done! Even when you are on vacation and already trying to relax as much as possible, there are things that you can do to boost your well-being and overall health. Here are five self-care activities that you can do during your visit to Cape Ann.
1. Take a Hike
Getting outdoors is a great place to start engaging in small steps towards better self-care. Cape Ann, with its incredible natural landscapes (and seascapes!), gives you many opportunities to slow down and de-stress. Walking is one of simplest forms of exercise there is, and it is one of the most underrated, according to experts. There are many great areas for walking all around Cape Ann. Want to get your steps in while also indulging in retail therapy? Walk down Gloucester’s Main Street, Magnolia’s Lexington Avenue, or Bearskin Neck in Rockport. Promenade along Stacy Boulevard and watch the schooners setting sail or if green space is what you’re after, try walking through one of the area’s many parks. Stage Fort Park and Beverly’s Obear Park are wonderful sites for both kids and adults alike. Want more challenging terrain? Hike the many trails through Ravenswood Park, Tompson Street Reservation, or Dogtown Common, to name a few.
Hike through the scenic Tompson Street Reservation in Gloucester MA.
Finding a beautiful spot to greet or end the day is a wonderful way to boost your mental health. Watching the colors gradually change is meditative and calming, not to mention beautiful to observe. Whether you want to watch the sun rise or set over the water, you’re in luck. Because of Cape Ann’s unusual geography, you’ll find either sea or river in pretty much any direction. It’s not often that you can watch the sunset over the ocean on the East Coast! For example, try catching an early sunrise over Good Harbor Beach and take a sunset stroll on Plum Cove Beach to take full advantage of this phenomenon.
Watching the water and listening to the surf can give you a cognitive break and create a mildly meditative state, according to marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, author of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. Being near the water relaxes us and calms the mind, which is often just what we need after being overstimulated by screens, devices, and the general bustle of modern day life. What’s more, if you decide to take a dip, swimming is excellent exercise and seawater has been shown to have many other health benefits. The salts and minerals found in the sea can help increase your immune system function, improve circulation, promote overall well-being, and hydrate your skin. If you want to double your health benefits, take advantage of a yoga class by the sea. Cape Ann Power Yoga offers classes by the harbor in the fresh sea air.
4. Eat a Healthy Snack
Nourishing your body by paying attention to your digestive health is another form of self-care. Fruits and vegetables are especially excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Farm stands abound on Cape Ann during the warmer months of the year, making finding farm-fresh produce, snacks, and treats a cinch. In Gloucester, the Cape Ann Farmer’s Market is located on Thursdays at Stage Fort Park from June into October. Marshall’s Farm Stand on Concord Street in Gloucester is open daily between the end of May and the end of October. The Magnolia Farmer’s Market on Lexington Avenue takes place on Sundays from June into September. In Rockport, Lattof’s Farmhouse Kitchen (located at 205 Main Street) offers up a selection of breakfast, lunch, and snacks adjacent to Lattof’s Farm Stand (located around the corner at 5 Joseph Way). The Rockport Farmer’s Market runs on Saturday mornings right downtown at Harvey Park (at the corner of Broadway and Mt. Pleasant Street). The Common Crow Natural Market, an independent natural grocer that offers organic and sustainable foods, is open daily year round.
Get your “5 a day” from one of Cape Ann’s many local farm stands or markets.
5. Catch a Shooting Star
Biologically, humans are tied to the (usually) predictable daily cycles of light and dark in each 24-hour cycle. Too much light at night, whether it be from general urban or suburban light pollution or glowing device screens, can disrupt circadian rhythms. Studies have shown that exposure to artificial light at night is associated with certain cancers, metabolic dysfunction and mood disorders. The good news is that there is also research that indicates that exposure to the night sky “lowers stress, increases positive mood, and leads to great experiences of awe.” Cape Ann has many beach and park areas that get quite dark at night, so successful stargazing on a clear night is quite achievable. If you are interested in learning about the night sky with a group, the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club meets at the Lanesville Community Center in Gloucester MA, at 8:00 pm on the second Friday of every month. All are welcome to join.
Contemplating the night sky is a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend the evening.
Practicing self-care is a key pathway to improved mood and reduced anxiety. Practicing a bit of mindfulness, even for just a few minutes, and taking the time to enjoy the natural world around you on Cape Ann will boost your well-being and enrich your vacation experience.
Where to Stay on Cape Ann
Atlantic Vacation Homes offers a wide variety of vacation rental homes across Cape Ann that would be perfect for your relaxing North Shore getaway. To book your accommodations, simply view available vacation rentals and enter your desired dates to get a quote. You can also call toll-free at (855) 853-9143 to speak with a Guest Experience Specialist.