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Spending time outdoors is a good way to relieve stress

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jessie Thomas
  • 375th Medical support squadron
As military members, we live stressful lives. We are committed to excellence and are required to perform as long as it takes to complete the mission. This way of life can and does create a great deal of stress.

Serving in the military, we have all been taught various ways to cope with stress and that stress management tools are not "one size fits all." Perhaps you are looking for a new way to manage stress?

A great way to deal with stress and reduce its impact is to get outdoors. Whether you are an avid hunter, angler, or simply enjoy an occasional hike through the wilderness, you may be surprised to know there is a beautiful location that will satiate all of your outdoor wants just 20 miles outside the Belleville Gate.

I have been stationed at Scott Air Force Base for more than six years and now that I am about to move away, I'd like to share one of my favorite places in Southern Illinois that allows me to reduce my daily stressors and increase my ability to be resilient.

The diverse biological paradise is called Peabody River King. This idyllic property, which is open to the public every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, encompasses 2,220 acres and more than 20 fishing and waterfowl refuge water areas. The property has an immense deer population for hunting and excellent fishing accessible by shore or boat. There are multiple covered picnic pavilions located all around the lakes and wooded areas that are perfect for family picnics or parties. And the best part about the property is that it is totally free.

There is a 12-mile trail system on site which is used by hunters, hikers, bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts. If you have an interest in introducing a youngster to the pleasures of fishing, there is a youth pond on site well stocked with five species of fish sure to keep the little ones entertained.

This location also has a variety of waterfowl that frequent this sanctuary and can be viewed from all the water sites. Additionally, there is canoe and kayak access which allows a closer look at the vast wildlife that calls Peabody River King home.

Another plus, unlike larger lakes, you don't have to worry about being pushed around by huge wakes made by large boats. The lake has a horsepower restriction protecting the tranquility of this hidden outdoor paradise. At night, you can take advantage of the absence of city lights and gaze at the stars above.

So often we feel the impact of stress, but we run out of ways to cope. Perhaps an extra tool in your stress-management arsenal will better prepare you to cope with stress. So before you resort to your over-used stress reducer, take a ride down IL Route 15 and get outdoors. You may find a new way to reduce stress.