Welcome to March! Happy 6th Birthday to us! This month marks our 72nd edition of the magazine and I couldn’t be more proud of what this publication has become. Thank you so much to our loyal supporters, advertisers and readers, we wouldn’t be where we are without you!

March also marks one of my favorite times of year. The days are longer, signs of spring are making an appearance and it’s of course one of my favorite sporting events; the Shamrock Soccer Tournament. It’s no secret that I love soccer, not just for the sport but also for the social and therapeutic aspect of it. I’ve talked about the winter blues before, but I also can find myself in a slump any time of year if I’m secluded in my home for too long or don’t get out and see the bustling community around me. Group sports or activities are beneficial in many ways both mental and physical and I wanted to share what I get out of them with you.

They get you out of the house. Just the act of getting ready and stepping out the door can add life back to the dull moments, not to mention it’s a reminder that there is much going on outside your front door. When I put on my soccer gear, I start to think about the sport, but also the people I am going to see and the information that I will share with them. Then I get in my car and I enjoy turning up the music, and inspecting my surroundings as I make my short drive to the Field House. I find comfort in seeing other people in vehicles driving to or from their destinations and I relish the idea that life is happening around me.

Even if you don’t have a designated sport or group activity, stepping out of your comfort zone is usually a good thing.  It isn’t always comfortable but I feel like it stimulates new parts of your body and brain and in the end, enhances your life and can lead to new exciting adventures. There are group fitness classes, sports, book groups, parent groups, hiking groups, and educational classes around the community, some of which are free! And disclaimer, sometimes certain group activities can be too far out of your comfort zone. I’ve learned from experience that I am not good at group classes that have any type of synchronized actions, like Zumba. Love the idea of it, but after a number of classes, it’s just not for me. And that’s ok too. It took doing something new and different to discover my likes and also my dislikes.   

Group activities have an obvious social aspect to them. See others, sharing experiences, and communicating face to face always helps me and pulls me out of the enclosed “box” that my life becomes sometimes. I do suffer from a little bit of social anxiety from time to time, but I’ve learned that if you’re honest with yourself and others; most people are kind, patient and understanding. And with that said, being face to face with someone that doesn’t share those qualities can also be a good experience. I’ve been in situations where group or team members aren’t getting a long or someone has a poor attitude and it’s a good life skill to know how to deal with or diffuse a situation, or if you’re not comfortable, how to excuse yourself from a situation.    

With the social aspect of group activities, friendships often form and this can lead to other activities and opportunities. I have gained many friendships over the years that started on a sports team, organizational board, or just getting together with a group of friends and their friends.

So get out there Southeast Alaska! Find a group, a sport, a class and see how it’s benefits your life! 

Anna Hoke is the graphic designer and owner of Southeast Living Magazine. She can be reached at anna@seakliving.com.