A few years ago, I stumbled upon what has become a regular practice for me. I refer to it, tongue in cheek, as a hobby, but honestly it may look more like obsession. At least it’s a healthy one, involving no mood-altering chemicals, empty calories, or a high risk of injury. I take it seriously, though, and once gave a short speech in Toastmasters arguing that the Olympic committee should consider it as a new entry.
My obsession? Floating. On some sort of buoyant device. On some body of water. The ideal set up: the bay with a temp of about 74 degrees, a blow-up pool float with a short boogie board underneath for extra support, and a rope tied to a dock, a boat, or a rock. I lie face down with all 4 limbs draped in the salt water, and I just zone out. Being in nature, the support and gentle rocking, the physical comfort of it all is such a balm to my often overscheduled life and the worries and responsibilities of being awake and aware these days. Plus, by necessity I am cut off from electronics, which I really need sometimes.
I’ve honed my practice over time. I acquired a used wetsuit at a thrift shop and surfer booties as a Christmas gift, which extend my floating season. (I’ll get in when the water temperature is anything over 60, which in southern Massachusetts means mid-May through mid-October.) I’ve tried different forms of water: rivers, lakes, ponds, swimming pools, and even hot tubs. With more shark sightings here, I keep my floating to the shallow water now. To enhance drifting off in my mind but not out to sea, I find a way to anchor myself—tying up to a rock on a riverbank, to the stern of an anchored motorboat, or to a bag of rocks below me in the water.
This year, floating has become more of a priority. I now see how much I need true downtime with complete physical destressing. It’s an odd hobby perhaps—other adults seem to prefer actual swimming or lounging on the beach—but floating is the perfect hobby for me. I only wish I’d discovered it earlier. I sure could have used it during med school, residency, and early parenthood.
What’s your #1 most stress-reducing hobby ever? Do you have one?