When your daily life is a high-energy, constant state of wired stress, do you remember to rest and recharge? Collapsing into bed, exhausted, after a day of constant motion doesn’t count. Some people play chess or video games, go golfing, or indulge in a wide plethora of enjoyable activities, but after a while, everyone deserves some time to simply exist, give their minds time to wander, and reconnect with nature while leaving the hectic world outside. Summertime is a great opportunity to step out of the ever-present blur of action. If you don’t already have a hammock, or have one hidden away in storage, it’s time to act!
A hammock is a simple, inexpensive tool that gives you a place to dump off all the stress and worries that get wound up over the course of a work day or week. You don’t need to shell out $100 or more for a good one, either. The best part is, even if you’re space-conscious in an apartment or condo, you can still enjoy the comfort offered by a simple addition to your balcony, deck, or even just in the living room. The traditional setup is by hanging hammock between trees, but if you don’t have that option, don’t sweat it. A freestanding frame will give you just as much, if not more, support and reliability and is easy to relocate when the summertime heat is a bit too strong, so you can choose sun, shade, or poolside comfort. When the weather turns chilly, bring it inside and keep it out in the living room for a little taste of summer all year round.
The hammock was discovered when Spanish colonists found Native Americans using them as beds and even offered them as trade goods. Cloth slings had been used as carriage seats before, but to use the net-like beds for full-body application soon proved its usefulness. Now varied in modern times, different designs offer different benefits, though each kind has a few features in common. Hammocks are intended for sleeping and provide excellent airflow for the hot summer days. The cocoon-like cradling means no pressure points, so it’s just like sleeping midair, while the gentle sway connects to the primal centers of our minds, recalling the rocking motion that comforted us as children.
The best way to hang a hammock is to find two trees, or a standalone support frame, that allows the hammock to stretch long enough to appear almost like a banana, a gentle curve that will support without sagging. When using the traditional design, if your shoulders are scrunched together, then you need to mount the ends further apart. General advice is that the hammock angles out at about thirty degrees from the tree or mount, and your feet should be able to touch the ground when you sit perpendicular, before swinging your legs in. If you don’t mind making a permanent mark, you can use mounting screws and hooks on walls, trees, etc., but ensure you have the perfect height and length.
There are so many different designs and styles to choose from, which one you decide on will greatly depend on your needs and desires. Spreader bar hammocks dispel the difficulty some find in getting a traditionally-styled hammock unwound, as if they’re left outside, they can spin over themselves and become tangled. Spreader bars on either end hold them open and allow you to simply sit and swing your legs in with little to no effort required. They take up more space when mounted, but fold and store with near as much ease. Double-bar designs can feel somewhat unstable for some, and might take some getting used to. There are single-bar designs that can offer better stability, but these are a bit more complicated to set up. In the end, it comes down to preference, but many swear by the good old traditional design.
Being outdoors is a great way to disconnect, getting you out of the house. The soft, soothing white noise of nature does wonders for a mind seeking relaxation, and serves as an excellent buffer. The wind through the leaves and birdsong are nature’s static. The gentle back-and-forth rocking motion helps to block out the crazy world, giving you an excellent place to read that book you’ve been putting off. Take a nap. Bring out your notebook and pen or pencil and work through the myriad of thoughts that continue running through your head, processing and releasing stress in a healthy way. Want to share that comfort with another? Couples sized hammocks are available as well, though you’ll more likely find those in the spreader-bar versions.
Hammocks are an excellent choice for campers and those seeking the outdoors. They are a great favorite among Leave No Trace and ultralight campers as you’re bringing along a small package that suspends easily between two proper trees, keeps you off the ground, and offers excellent comfort without worrying about inflatable mattresses or waking up to a ground-soggy sleeping bag. If you really want to reconnect with nature and experience the ultimate in relaxation, you should consider a hammock with webbing straps, mounting straps that allow you to create attachment points that are solid enough to last all night when used properly, without having to inflict damage on the natural world. Specialized camping hammocks can come with rooflike structures to deflect rain and shield you from morning dew.
Take your relaxation out into the fresh air and give yourself the gift of natural comfort. There’s no need to stay indoors when you can read and rest by using one of the oldest and most reliable relaxation tools in history. Enjoy the shade and breeze under the softly rustling trees and rest under the canopy of stars on a cloudless night. Step away from the stress and responsibilities that remain indoors with a simple, cheap investment that reaps healthy rewards.
Do you own a hammock? What’s your favorite style and favorite way to relax? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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