5 Reasons to Surf Before Work

It’s the year 2018 and technology has made us more connected than ever before. While this comes with countless benefits, constant connectivity has unfortunately blurred the lines between work and personal life. 38% of Americans say they check their work email routinely at the dinner table. 44% check it daily while on vacation. And a whopping 50% admit to checking their smartphones before they even get out of bed in the morning.

And when you step foot in the office, it’s even worse. Your inbox is overflowing with messages, your phone is ringing off the hook, and you’re bouncing from one meeting to the next. Sometimes it seems to never stop. While it’s okay to be busy if it means you’re making a positive contribution to the world, balance is key. But as a business owner, I have found that it’s increasingly difficult – if not impossible – to turn off, tune out, and ultimately achieve this balance.

That’s where surfing comes in.

While there are many ways to find balance in your day – walking meetings, stretching at your desk, meditating, to name a few – I’ve always found solace in the ocean. Fortunately, our office is two blocks away from the beach so I can typically jump in on my lunch break as well, but I know most people only have time to catch a few waves before work – even if that means setting your alarm clock an hour or two early. While I could easily come up with 100 reasons to surf before work, I’ll stick to the five main points that have made me happier, healthier, and more productive throughout the day.

1 – Reliving Blissful Memories

Surfing has been a passion of mine for years, and as any surfer can probably relate, it’s associated with so many unforgettable memories – from that surf trip to Bali with my best buddies, to pushing my oldest son into his first waves. Every time I put on my wetsuit and paddle out, those euphoric feelings we call stoke are recreated to some degree, and this process of positive catharsis is an invigorating way to start the day.

2 – Connection with Nature

You can’t bring your smartphone in the water with you, so surfing is a great way to disconnect, clear your mind, and surrender yourself to the moment. Your morning surf sesh might also be the only time of day you get outside to soak in that vitamin D. Over time, surfing teaches you how to read the waves, forming a deep and intimate connection with the ocean, which accounts for more than 70% of our planet. You will gain a new appreciation of the world we live in.

3 – Meditation

Throughout history, people have turned to the ocean for its healing properties, and studies show that being near the ocean can make you calmer and more creative. The ebb and flow of waves has a meditative effect which slows your heart rate, reduces anxiety, and puts you in a clear state of mind for the day. Even when the waves aren’t pumping, finding peace and solitude in the stillness between sets is therapeutic, and helps improve your patience.

4 – Consistency

If your days are like mine, they’re probably chaotic and unpredictable, so having a healthy, consistent morning habit can be grounding, even if the surf doesn’t always cooperate. Some of the world’s most successful people have stated that having a consistent morning ritual helps set them up for success, so why not have your routine be something you truly enjoy?

5 – Exercise

Some people go on a run or practice yoga before work, but surfing is my workout of choice because it’s the perfect harmony of strength training and cardio that also improves your flexibility, balance, and endurance. Any form of exercise releases endorphins to keep your stress levels in check, but surfing comes with all the added benefits listed above that you just can’t get from lifting weights at a gym. It’s not just about burning calories, but reaping the emotional rewards as well.

Whether it’s 30 minutes or 3 hours, surfing before work in the morning puts me in the right mental state to tackle any project, pitch, or problem I might encounter in the office. It also helps me become a more relaxed, satisfied, and grateful person in all aspects of my life. If you’re ever in San Diego, give me a shout, I’m happy to take you for a paddle – the ocean is our backyard.

Megan PARALLAXploration – Utah

If you’re given the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world, how would you choose your destination? I found the initial proposition slightly overwhelming, but had one substantial factor that reduced the radius of my potential travel destination: a baby girl, who arrived in mid-April. Knowing that Maeve would be joining me on the trip, I decided this was a great opportunity to explore my own backyard. We packed up the car (with far more gear than I ever thought possible) and headed south to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

I live in Utah, where nearly two-thirds of the state is (currently) public land. We are lucky to have five national parks, seven national monuments/sites, six national forests and 44 state parks. As an outdoor enthusiast and someone who cares deeply about the environment, public land is an issue close to my heart. Thus, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to seek out some of these beautiful landscapes and introduce my five-week-old daughter to our country’s national parks.

After a five hour drive into the desert, I unpacked our bags in Springdale on the edge of Zion National Park. The park consists primarily of a canyon valley, which was carved out by the Virgin River. It’s towering red walls – which average 2,000 feet deep – are a wonderful juxtaposition to the green oasis along the valley floor and river banks.

The majority of the hikes and classic Zion viewpoints are found in this canyon, which is accessed by a very user-friendly shuttle service during the peak months of March through November. The shuttle was established in 2000 and transported an estimated 6.3 million visitors in 2017 alone – think about the amount of traffic and pollution these shuttles eliminate each year! Traveling with an infant, I was especially grateful for the shuttles as it eliminated the need for a car seat and multiple transfers between car seat and carrier.

For the next day and a half, Maeve and I hopped from trail to trail with the help of the shuttle. While I was disappointed I couldn’t go on the infamous Angel’s Landing or The Narrows hikes (both trails with high consequence terrain) with Maeve, we got to experience the full length and beauty of the canyon. Whenever it started to heat up too much, we’d head for the river, finding cooler temperatures and shade among the cottonwood trees and brisk water (a rarity if you’re familiar with the other Utah national parks like Arches and Canyonlands). With its shuttle, shade, mix of easy/moderate trails available and amenities available in Springdale, I would highly recommend Zion National Park for anyone traveling with kiddos!

The drive from Zion to Bryce was stunning and crossed a variety of landscapes – we went from rock formations that were reminiscent of Mars, to wide open ranchlands and ultimately ended up in a high alpine desert. Expecting more hot desert landscapes, I was surprised to enter the park at an elevation around 7,600 feet, surrounded by pine trees. Also, surprising was how abruptly the forest dropped into an expansive basin covered with thousands of hoodoos. Take a quick three-minute walk in the forest outside the lodge, and suddenly the ground disappears beneath you. Hoodoos, which are skinny spires of rock created by “frost wedging,” create a maze before you. Nowhere else in the world has as many hoodoos as Bryce National Park – it’s quite the sight!

There is a perimeter trail that follows the edge of the basin and provides awe-inspiring views from the top, which is where Maeve and I spent the majority of our time. Since this trail was easy to access from the parking lot and lodge, there was a steady stream of visitors from tour buses. While the crowds can be overwhelming and oftentimes frustrating, I kept reminding myself that everyone was there to appreciate these public lands. By experiencing and learning about these delicate landscapes, my hope is that more people will become passionate about protecting them.

It was a challenge to travel with a brand new baby, but doing it on my own felt empowering. I know Maeve won’t remember this trip, but it still felt so special to share these beautiful and protected lands with her – just the two of us. My husband and I are determined to bring her up with an appreciation for the environment and wild spaces. Might as well start them young!