Don’t Forget Yourself -- Give the Gift of Health
By Cheryl A. Cuddahy
In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to get swept up in the busyness of the season. We have shopping lists, cookie swaps, parties and more parties -- all fun, of course, but exhausting.
So let’s give ourselves and our families the gift of health, self-care and being present in this busy world by connecting with each other and with the nature that surrounds us.
A sense of wellness can be found from breathing in fresh air, taking a hike through beautiful trails, and enjoying family and good company, all of which can be found at Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, located at 113 Goodnow Road in Princeton.
Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary offers more than 13 miles of well-marked trails through picturesque and tranquil habitats of varying lengths. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for children and seniors, and free for Mass Audubon members, Princeton residents and EBT card holders.
The sanctuary also rents snowshoes for children and adults during office hours, and staff members are on hand to help.
Looking for a guided program?
“Whether your resolution this year is to spend more time outside or to get in shape, there is no better way to kick off the new year than with the sanctuary’s New Year’s Hike,” says Sanctuary Director Deb Cary.
The hike is Saturday, Jan. 5, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Nature can also be therapeutic, so slow down and breathe in the fresh air at the monthly Shinrin-Yoku Forest Breathing Guided Sanctuary Walk, held the last Saturday of each month.
“These walks are an effective way to relax and reinvigorate yourself, and to learn methods for revisiting and reliving these calming experiences when you are feeling anxious, lonely or depressed,” says Dr. Roxanne Daleo, a renowned health educator who specializes in relaxation and stress reduction who leads the walks.
January’s walk will be held Saturday, Jan. 26, starting at 10:30 a.m.
Family time also equals healthy time, and spending it outdoors can be a fun way to get some fresh air and exercise together. Two family programs are being offered in January.
First, a Family Snowshoe Hike will be held Saturday, Jan. 19, from 1-3 p.m.
“Winter is an excellent time of year to explore the sanctuary with your family, especially on snowshoes,” says Marketing Coordinator Jenn Dziejma. “If you have never snowshoed before, let us introduce you to this great winter activity. You’ll learn about equipment and safety, then head out for a guided walk on the trails and warm up with hot chocolate after.”
All levels of experience are welcome, and the hike is open to families with children ages 7 and up.
Next on the list is a Family Owl Prowl planned for Saturday, Jan. 26, from 5 to 7 p.m.
“Owls are fascinating birds,” Group Program Coordinator Jen Reilly says. “You will learn all about owls in this hands-on indoor introduction followed by a short hike to listen for owls ‘whoo’ might be nearby.”
The Owl Prowl is open to families with children ages 5 and up.
Advance registration is required for most programs. For more information, call 978-464-2712 or visit email@example.com .
Mass Audubon Membership is also a great gift idea for yourself or others. Membership provides free admission to a statewide network of more than 50 wildlife sanctuaries, discounts on programs, including camp and special events, and gift-shop discounts.
Mass Audubon is one of the largest conservation organizations in New England. With more than 100,000 members, the agency cares for 35,000 acres of conservation land, provides educational programs for 225,000 children and adults annually, and advocates for sound environmental policies. Find out more in person or by calling Wachusett Meadow.
“We are very fortunate, thanks to contributions from members, donors and volunteers, to have this special place for wildlife and nature exploration that is open year-round for individuals and families to explore,” Dziejma says. “I hope that we can welcome many new and returning visitors in the upcoming year. Getting outdoors and connecting with nature is a wonderful way to contribute to health and well-being in any season.”
Got a column subject or item for Community Conversations? Email ccuddahy@sentineland enterprise. Read her blog at blogs.sentinelandenterprise.com/communityconversations .