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WELL for Life challenges you to explore the great outdoors

WELL for Life challenges you to explore the great outdoors

Just last month while snorkeling in Hawaii with my family, chance brought me face to face with an enormous green sea turtle.

I’d kicked out a hundred yards or so, where visibility reached about 60 feet. Not long after putzing near the reef, a giant turtle emerged from an overhang some 30 feet down. As mellow as can be, he cruised for a short stretch, and then stopped to munch on an algae-covered rock.

Gathering myself, I took a deep lungful of air and dove down to swim beside him, keeping several feet between us. Thirty seconds passed and I rose for air. As timing would have it, my new acquaintance also needed a breath, and he lazily paddled to the top, not two feet from where I’d surfaced. His tiny nostrils lifted above the water as he caught his breath. Quietly thrilled, I floated beside him, admiring his serenity.

As memorable as this experience was, my up close-and-personal encounters with wildlife are rare. Back on the mainland, it’s harder to find time for nature. And when I do, it’s maybe just a lunchtime walk or quick hike on the weekend. But even that counts. Studies have shown that a little time in the great outdoors can improve your mood, reduce stress and decrease depression.

That’s why this month, Stanford’s WELL for Life initiative is challenging you to spend a little more time in nature over the course of one week. There’s no hard and fast rule — the idea is to get outside however you can. Take a jaunt around the block, tend to your garden this weekend, take your dog to a park — whatever’s best suited for you. The challenge will last until September 23.

Past challenges from the WELL initiative have sought to help participants boost various areas of their well-being — some have focused on social connectedness, purpose and meaning, physical activity or diet. The challenges are put forth in an effort to take a more holistic approach to health by looking beyond the typical diseased-or-not-diseased definition of health and likewise incorporate well-being.

For each challenge, participants are asked to complete short surveys before, during and after the event to help the WELL team evaluate the potential impact of the challenge on well-being.

To get started, register for the Get Outside Challenge and start thinking about your next nature adventure.

Photo by Hanae Armitage

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