Stressed out? Find Your Peace Along the Anacostia River
If you’ve had an extra long week at work, you’re too busy to get to the gym, or you haven’t had time to eat a home cooked meal, or everything is happening all at once and it’s overwhelming, you might need a little extra time with nature. Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by so many different things in my life. Not to say that all of them are bad! Some of it is the hazards of living: I’ve had stress from starting a new amazing job and figuring out new life, but I’ve also overcommitted on a lot of different social gatherings that have left my partner and me socially and emotionally exhausted and with too many duties and not enough fun. However, one thing that has helped us from having a driveway meltdown after one of these long days has been reconnecting with nature.
Studies show that reconnecting with nature and green spaces, even for a short while, can exponentially decrease your perceived and actual physiological stress level. Does it happen to you that things are stressful, yet you can go outside, stand under a tree, and things start feeling better, without you changing anything but that position under a tree? Science isn’t quite there connecting the exact dots, but the correlation is demonstrably strong. I’ve lived all over the country, and I’m lucky to live now in a highly wooded area near the Nation’s Capital. It’s been a few months and I’m still amazed at the opportunity to find my peace among nature here. I had this perception that DC is mostly concrete areas surrounded by shadow-casting buildings, and I’ve been amazed to find that most anywhere in the city you are just minutes from escaping the noise and smells of cars on pavement to find the dulcet tones of birds and the fresh breath of native plants. Since moving to the DC area, I am entranced by the juxtaposition of the marvel of modern living against the accessibility of our Anacostia River with its beautiful paths and all the peace the watershed has to show a transplant like me. Since moving here, these are a few of my favorites parks and paths:
- Oxon Run Trail - Running mostly south DC and Prince George’s County, this trail may as well be called “Bald eagle run” for the sightings of our national bird there! While there is a loose connection of trails, they are being expanded, and you can even help name the new section near MLK ave and South Capitol Street. The trails in this area of DC have their own unique charm, with more hills and less development than other trails in the city.
- Poplar Point - Starting at the gorgeous new Frederick Douglass Bridge, you can take a walk out to see one of the last pieces of undeveloped riverfront along the Anacostia River. Accessible as the southern portion of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, this area is currently in the news as a potential site of a new FBI building, and you can learn more by attending the next listening session on December 7. Learn more at https://poplarpointdc.org/.
- Rhode Island Avenue Trolly Trail - This trail running along the old trolly line through Prince George’s County is just north of our Bladensburg Offices. This trail is largely further from the river than the others here, but offers easy hills and a lovely shaded path. I’m excited to see the last portion be completed down to the confluence of the Northeast and Northwest branches, since construction recently started.
If you're looking for a more detailed description of the Anacostia River Trail’s sections, I really enjoyed this recent article in the Hill Rag by longtime friend of the Anacostia Watershed Society, Bill Matuzetski. For someone who has lived in the DC area for just six months, I can’t wait to check out the rest of these.
The Anacostia River’s main stem crosses right through the heart of our nation’s capital and many organizations, including ours, the Anacostia Watershed Society, have committed to restoring the watershed to its original glory and making this diverse wetland accessible to the community around it. The recreational opportunities such as biking, hiking, walking, canoeing, kayaking and traveling the river by a motorized boat are metro accessible and many of these opportunities are free! Here at the Anacostia Watershed Society, in the warmer months we provide free boat tours where you will get to enjoy being on the water and experience a family friendly educational tour about the biodiversity and history of the river as well as all of the programs we have created and been a part of to restore the river.
Let the nature around you brighten up your day! Check out our calendar of events to find an opportunity to de-stress and reconnect with nature.