Sometimes the best thing about living in New York City is leaving it, even if it’s just for a brief period of time. With deadlines, meetings, and social events crowding your calendar, life can get overwhelming fast, and it’s sometimes difficult to see the forest or the trees — or, rather, the skyline. Plus, when you have chronic anxiety, like me, a few days of respite outside the city can be the perfect mental reset. So, with the days growing shorter and the pace of work ramping up after a relatively mild summer (two things that can send me into an emotional tailspin of sorts), I was eager to experience the new Hutton Brickyards retreat and spa in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Having grown up in a relatively rural area for most of my life, I’m always happy to return to nature, even if it is via Amtrak and not, say, a business class flight to some exotic locale. In truth, having the Catskills nearby is one of the best parts of living in this area of the country — it’s an unbelievably beautiful spot to visit for a long weekend getaway. And while Airbnb rentals are increasingly common in this region, I’m definitely partial to the exceptional service of a hotel. That’s not to say, however, that Hutton Brickyards is your average tourist spot; far from it in fact.
When I visited the resort a few weeks ago with Teva (the ultimate outdoor shoe brand in my not-so-humble opinion) the first thing that struck me was its tranquility. The honking of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway was replaced by the occasional hum of a passing barge on the Hudson River, just a few yards away from the restaurant and rooms. Sure, the weather turned rainy as we walked to our individual tiny cabins — complete with water vista views and Adirondack chairs that are just made for your morning coffee ritual — but I could already feel a few month’s worth of stress evaporating from my still-hunched shoulders.
In addition to thoroughly enjoying the sound of rain on my roof during that first night of beauty sleep, I was eager to participate in a few activities to get my mind off some of those intrusive “what if” thoughts that can accompany anxiety. Anything that can get your body moving will help to calm anxious thoughts says Dr. Aaron Bonner-Jackson, a neuropsychologist at Cleveland Clinic, as exercise has been shown to “restore” balance in the brain. So while I wasn’t interested in training for a marathon during my stay, I did enjoy a morning yoga practice and an afternoon nature walk through the woods. I even let our guide convince me to taste some pine needles pulled from a nearby tree before heading to an archery lesson — you can’t do those types of things in New York City!
Just after the sun came up, I’d slip on my new Teva ReEMBER TERRAIN shoes and walk down to the riverfront for no reason other than I wanted to breathe in the fresh air (which is really saying something because I am *not* a morning person). I’d even leave my phone behind in my cabin, content with distancing myself from my inbox and group chats for once. I was far too busy enjoying a paint n’ sip class after my afternoon massage at the spa to worry about the pile of unanswered emails waiting for me.
Although the trip was just a few days, it turned out to be exactly what I needed to disconnect and unwind, proof that a change of location — and a few less noisy neighbors and blaring sirens — is well worth the journey. Will a visit to Hutton Brickyards solve all of your stressors forever? Certainly not. But in the interest of taking things one day at a time, and perhaps filling those days with things like apple-picking and pasta dinners by the fireplace, you might find that a trip up north is well worth that Amtrak ride. Believe me, your mental health deserves to take priority for a change. And for the weekends when I just can’t manage to make it upstate, I have my new Teva hammock and a trusty Brooklyn fire escape to hold me over until my next visit.
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