I am a beach child at heart. I grew up on the shores of Long Island and spent most of my summers making kelp bracelets, searching the sand for pieces of sea glass, and pretending that I was a dolphin, diving in and out of the waves. For me, a good beach is a full workday—I excitedly “clock in” at 8:00 a.m. and reluctantly pack up at 5:00 p.m. I feel most at home at the beach; each trip enhances my environmental wellness, along with my emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical wellness (the Eight Dimensions of Wellness are truly interconnected!). I always feel more like me after a long day of wave watching.

During the summer, I take as many trips down to Long Island as I can pack into the fleeting 13 weeks of summer. All year long, I look forward to the weekends where I can sit in the sun, watch the waves, and go for hours-long walks up and down the shore. There is something meditative about watching the waves roll in and out. Each wave is unique in the way it breaks and the height it has, but collectively they provide a steady reminder of the consistency and beauty of change—something I have struggled with my whole life. Something about the sun, sand, and salt makes me a bit more receptive to the idea of change.

I love going for long, meandering walks along the shore. It’s a great way for me to catch up with family (I come from a very long line of beach lovers), contemplate bigger questions about my life (Where do I want to be in 5 years? What is blocking me from achieving my goals?), or be completely present in the moment. Mindfulness has always been a challenge for me—there’s always another mental list to make—but the sound of the waves and the care that I need to take stepping through the sand makes it easy for me to be in the present moment when I’m at the beach.

Since my time at the beach has such a dramatic, positive impact on my environmental wellness, I feel like it is only fair for me to reciprocate what I’ve gained. Every time I go to the beach, I aim to pick up at least five pieces of trash: forgotten water bottles, broken up pieces of plastic, pieces of Styrofoam, fishing line, plastic bags, and balloons. My efforts sometimes feel futile—unless there is a dramatic shift in the way we think about trash, there will always be another balloon or bottle cap. However, I am buoyed by the knowledge that my actions are making the beach just a little bit safer for the resident wildlife and a bit more enjoyable for other beachgoers—enhancing their environmental wellness, too.

Is there a favorite location of yours that enhances your environmental wellness? What features does it have that improves your wellness? Share your experiences in the comments!