We are living through very challenging times, and nothing can sugar-coat that. Instead, we can try to find the best in a bad situation, to seek ways to calm our souls while protecting our health. And in every age and situation, the beach has been one of the best places to do that. Nothing puts our own lives into perspective like gazing at the endless horizon and listening to the eternal lapping of waves at the shore while standing on a sandy beach littered with beautiful seashells.
We have to stay a physical distance from others, but most of us can leave our homes. While we should avoid crowded places, the beach in March has a good chance of not being crowded. If you can get out to a beach, you can cherish your connection to the ocean while also keeping yourself and your family a safe distance from other people. But what can you do alone at the beach? Plenty, actually.
All by Yourself
- Go for a long walk along the shore and really be present. Listen to the waves. What else can you hear? Focus on how the salty breeze feels on your skin. Notice how your feet sink a bit in the sand. Mindfulness, staying in the moment, is a good way for many people to cope with anxiety. Acknowledge your worries, and gently redirect your attention to what is right in front of you.
- Bring a beach shelter, a mug of hot coffee or tea, some snacks, a good book and a notebook and pen. Make yourself comfortable with a chair and a blanket to wrap up warmly. Pour out all of your concerns and observations about these strange days into your notebook. Someday, your children and grandchildren will want to know how your felt and what you did during this crisis. Then let yourself escape into that compelling book for a while.
- For many of us, nervous energy makes it hard to sit quietly at times like this. A good run along the beach can clear your head and burn off that energy. This isn’t the time to push yourself with new or extreme exercise, but if you normally jog around your neighborhood, jogging at the beach instead can be relaxing. Running on sand is also enough of a challenge to distract you from fears and force you to focus on what you are doing. If you are not a runner, a brisk walk can give you the same benefits.
With the Children
- Dig out the buckets and spades, little rakes, yogurt containers or whatever you have available and announce a sandcastle making competition. Watch their creativity in action and let the sound of waves drown out any bickering about whose turn it is to the most popular spade or container.
- Go fly a kite. Literally. The beach is the place for it. If you don’t already have a kite, you can find instructions on how to make one online. Let the kids spend the morning making and the afternoon trying to fly it at the beach. Surely measuring things to make the kite counts as a math lesson?
- Collecting seashells is always fun, and it can be educational too if you need some justification. Bring a guidebook or find a guide online so you can learn together about the creatures that once lived in those shells.
The pandemic is bringing upset, uncertainty and loss to all of us. Taking some time out at the beach is not denying that; it is choosing to be positive and seek solace in an extremely difficult time. And for children, it is a chance to teach them healthy coping skills. We have to stay physically apart from people aside from our own households right now, but we don’t have to stay indoors and sedentary.