Just this past spring, I decided to take up golf. This wasn’t a random idea as the seed had been planted many years before when I met my husband. One of our first dates ever was to the driving range to hit some balls. Somehow I convinced him that I was a natural that day (only later for him to realize yeah, not so much) while he showed me how much he loves to golf and that it was an important part of his life.  Many years later, after a year of being married, I finally decided I was ready to learn. And I found my golf. It has become a true joy in my life, while being a pain in the A$$! at the same time. I take weekly lessons and try to practice once or twice a week at the driving range. And the crazy part is, I don’t do it for my husband! True, the only reason I took it up in the first place was because I knew how much it would mean to his dad and family if we were able to take golf weekends together (up until now, I have just stayed home for these excursions) but now I do it for me. And here is why: For me, golf is something new that requires a lot of focus and concentration. It is something that people spend their entire lives learning and striving to get better at, and that can be done at 20 and still at 80! I love the feeling of being a student again…learning something new that is constantly challenging me and humbling me. I love that I can see my progress but there is still so much to learn so it feeds my competitive nature and my drive (no pun intended). And the best part is…the game itself! I get exercise that feels good to my body (walking is one of the best things you can do for your body! Check out the facts here) while being outdoors in a beautiful, very green setting. I love that it is a social activity but that there is still a goal at the end of the game, and I don’t mind an occasional beer while I am playing. For any golfers reading this, you may agree that as difficult as the sport is, it can be completely relaxing. And THAT is what I am getting at!

In order to maintain a truly healthy life, I believe we should all continue to grow, try new things and be humbled every once in a while. It is important to challenge our brains and our bodies and most importantly, to find ways to de-stress. More and more research is being done to prove that stress is the WORST thing we can do to ourselves…and yet, it is so abstract and difficult for us to pinpoint within us! I have been really trying to become more conscious about when I am stressed and how to spot it when it shows its ugly face. For example, ask my husband. He can definitely tell when I am stressed because my mood is all over the place. I am short-tempered. I sometimes cry. My mind is moving a mile a minute.  My body gives me signs as well whether it is a headache, indigestion or a late period. Luckily, I usually catch it before it shows too many physical signs. (For more info on stress, click here)

If you can’t pinpoint what or when you are stressed, don’t assume that you are not. We live in a stressful world with stress everywhere around us. So, rather than trying to figure out when you are or aren’t stressed, find ways to cut that stress out. FIND YOUR GOLF. Maybe it is something as simple as knitting or taking a yoga class. Meditation does wonders for stress. And if you can’t sit still for something like yoga, find something active that you enjoy that will put your focus somewhere positive. Take it a step further and find something out of your comfort zone to engage in that will challenge your brain! Learn a new sport, hobby, or game or how about a new instrument? And if none of those will help you de-stress, make a weekly date to walk with a friend or go on a hike! Whatever it is for you, find your golf and may it bring you years of stress-free joy!