As we turn the calendars to August and enter what would normally be the “dog days of summer,” it can be a harsh reality that the leaves will soon lose their luster, the nights will become even cooler, and sweater weather will be fast approaching. Living in colder-weather climates can make us all too aware of the pending seasonal changes ahead. If you are already starting to feel melancholy, August is just the beginning and it’s marked for fun and adventure!

YES, August is literally “Happiness Happens Month,” and “Adventure Month,” and it’s perfect timing because we need it! If you think you don’t need happiness in your life, think again! In her book, “The How of Happy,” Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky shares what many of us know, “Happiness is not only a desirable outcome but also a fundamental human need. It plays a crucial role in promoting physical and mental well-being, enhancing social relationships, and improving overall life satisfaction.” Perhaps today is the day you ask yourself how happy you are. What would make you feel happy? Even in the short term? Even just for a moment? What would bring you a memory of happiness? It’s a necessity after all!

August in Vermont is filled with happy-making adventures! Fairs, festivals, and nature in its glory have something for everyone! You can hike, bike, play, paddle, join the Border Running Club, go to parks, visit farms, and even our own local events with Newport’s Wednesdays on the Waterfront and summer stroll music series. The Old Stone House in Brownington is always hosting events, Island Pond is hosting a comedy weekend in August and Borderline Players is producing Bride of Memphre® at the historical Haskell Opera House in Derby line too. If you can’t decide on what might make you happy, do a quick Google search and at least choose an adventure!

Summers are also a perfect time to just try something new! Try a new hike! Or if when you hike you don’t take time to look around, stop and smell the flowers along the way. If you only ever bike or drive by our lakes, rivers, and streams – go and sit by some water and look and listen this month. Nature is all around you! Numerous scientific studies have provided evidence to support the notion that spending time in nature can significantly contribute to our happiness and overall well-being. One such study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom suggested that being in nature helps to restore attentional capacity, allowing individuals to recover from mental fatigue caused by the demands of daily life, also known as burnout. You don’t have to always go, go, go. Take a moment to also, be!

The Journal of Environmental Science & Technology found that individuals living in areas with more green spaces had lower levels of stress, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and improved overall health. The study also highlighted the importance of access to nature in urban environments, as it can help mitigate the negative effects of development on mental and physical well-being. This is us; we have green space; we just need to be in it! We must get out there! Even if it’s not ideal we have been lucky to have access to this great health resource all around us!

Happiness may be a “feel-good” topic but it’s also science and fact-based, and the fact is we all need more of it! If you are thinking that happiness isn’t for you or that for some reason it can’t be real, it is!

The overall outpouring of evidence shows that being outside makes us happier and healthier! So, this month which is all about adventure and happiness is the perfect time to stop making excuses and just finally start reducing our stress, improving our mental health, and getting some physical activity in nature while we can. At NCH we do an Annual August Adventure Month Challenge with our employees, and this year, we offer it to you too, so get out there, get happy!


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center