Let the Adventure Begin…
Have you ever felt like you just need to get away from it all?
Monthly? Weekly? Daily?!
It’s no surprise that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience some kind of mental health problem, each year*. Coronavirus and the concerns it represents for our own, and our family’s, physical wellness, alongside accompanying undercover army of anxiety, panic, rumination and financial stress, will undoubtedly increase this burden. So, what can we do to help counter these worries?
This ‘A Year to Heal’ blog series, together with a friendly online community free to join on facebook, is here to help offer you a slow and steady toolkit of simple lifestyle tips, to navigate your way beyond lockdown.
Remember, you can (and should) take baby steps down this path of soulful living. There is no rush. You are enough as you are. But you could feel your way through a little more consciously, perhaps. Yep, we’re going super s l o w , people. Part of the process. All part of the deal. Slow down. The fact that you are reading this means your soul has nudged you gently in this direction. And so you owe it to your true self to at least be…curious.
And so here we are at August’s topic: Rewild yourself. And, because here in the UK it’s the school holidays (can we actually last another 7 weeks?!) I’ve some hints to help your wee wildlings enjoy themselves too, giving you some much needed peace and stillness.
As always, make sure you have a cuppa. Breathe in through your nose…hold it…breathe out through your mouth, long and smooth. Now, you’re ready to read.
The Wanderlust is Real…
Is there a yearning, a sense of adventure, a desire to take your dreams into the great outdoors more often, at the edge of your fingertips, on the tip of your tongue? I’ve some beautiful suggestions for ideas for you to tick off your wanderlust list, and some awesome activities to embrace the natural world, for all ages, from 0 to 90. Being outside, in nature, is so deeply healing. I don’t believe there is one soul in the world that doesn’t sing when it’s by water or in the woods. Gorgeous.
There has been a surge in both fiction and non-fiction writing on the subject of ‘taking-off’ in recent years, Maybe it’s the romance. The spontaneity. The downright craziness of just…leaving. Or maybe it’s simply because we are all too busy, we are all overwhelmed and we all need a proper break. We need to get back to this cyclical way of living, of feeling the earth beneath our feet. In the facebook group our book club suggestions for August to perfectly match this topic are The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, and Wild by Cheryl Strayed. There’s a real element of self-discovery running through both these, along with the beauty and majesty of the descriptive narrative of the authors’ coastal surroundings. Because if you can’t physically detach yourself from life, perhaps you can at least mentally detach, with a cup of tea and a great read.
Remember the pause of total lockdown? Does it seem far away now? Or have you managed to cultivate a little of that stillness in your every day since. If you are, jolly good for you. I’ve tried, but it seems it’s just out of my grasp.
Let’s Go Outside…
Some of the mental, emotional and physical benefits of being outdoors, include:
- increased vitamin D levels
- compassion for nature
- appreciation for the lifecycles of the outdoors, and the seasons
- lower blood pressure
- lower stress
- lower cholesterol
- improved creativity
- improved sleep
- improved cardiovascular fitness, improved core and lower body strength, a healthy heart
- efficient stress-relief, improved adrenal function
- increased sense of adventure and satisfaction
I’m Doing This…for Me…
Okay. We know we want to get a little more wild. We know why it’s good for us. And we really want our children/partner/parents to get a little more wild too. How do we do it, and do it well, in our already overwhelmed, time-poor lives?
- go for a hike/bike/run/walk – alone, if that’s what you need. Remember last month we talked about those non-negotiables? Those things you simply have to do, to keep your sanity? Maybe this is one of those. And if you’re good with people tagging along, make it fun. Get everyone involved. Leave your phone behind (maybe one for photos and safety, pop it on flight mode!) and breathe deep.
- incorporate the outdoors into your weekend trip and holidays – let’s face it, there are many of us who aren’t going to be hopping on a jet plane anytime soon, so make the most of what your own area has to offer. Take a fun road trip. Camp out. Watch the stars. Drink hot chocolate late at night. Get excited about doing something different.
- gardening – if you’re lucky enough to have a garden to enjoy, take pride in it. When you have time to yourself, sketch some ideas of your dream garden project. Add it to your vision board if you have one. Make a wish on the very next New Moon and see if it comes true. See what bit of that garden dream you can achieve. Get earthy. Go barefoot. Get dirty! Plant, sow and tend. It’s so incredibly grounding, and so very good for the soul.
- forest bathing and outdoor meditation – you may be able to find a local group of forest bathers (clothes essential, don’t worry) or outdoor meditators. This can be as simple as having someone point out what you can see, closing your eyes and listening to the sounds you can hear. Truly engaging all five senses, like the very best mediation, takes you out of your head and into your heart. Bliss.
- the magic of water – have you ever noticed a deep calm when you’re by a lake, or the sea, or a wild river? It can feel so soothing to many. Find a spot you love and use it as your happy place. Or if that’s way too laid-back for you, check out some watersports, these are increasingly available at reservoirs and in coastal towns, and you’ll get an adrenalin rush at the same time as a fresh air hit.
(and for my Family)…
And if you have little ones who you long to grow-up with an immense appreciation for wildlife, nature and the great outdoors, you may like these tips:
- make a plan. Kids love to be involved in a plan! Sit down together, go through some leaflets or websites or books, and work out what you want to do, as a family.
- use You Tube videos to create wildlife-inspired projects in your own garden, such as bug hotels, bird feeders and seed planting. The National Trust have a great project called ‘50 Things to do Before you’re 11 3/4‘ – great timing for the summer holidays.
- spend a little time, every single day, outdoors. Come rain or shine. Teach your children about the magic of the seasons. See how delighted they are, because children love magic. It’s just as we get older that it starts to fade. Bring it back.
- keep it fun. Trust me, I have a strong-willed 8 year old daughter, and a messy 6 year old son. I know how disappointing it is to plan a trip you really want to take outdoors, for them to only dash your hopes by complaining. So keep the trips for you, just for you, somehow. And make the trips with them all about them. You will benefit, too, I promise.
Ecological Steps for Our Future
There are numerous conservation groups you can follow and donate to, such as of course The National Trust, The Woodland Trust, Rewilding Britain. All have social media pages and newsletters to sign-up to, many run regular events across the UK for families, or adults. There are also many smaller local groups, often funded by charity grants to specifically work with young people. See what you can find in your area, and get involved.
I can’t wait to hear what you get up to, outdoors, this month. I’m off on Stage 9 and Stage 10 of the South West Coast Path with Simply Anxious Adventures! An incredibly hilly coastal stretch of 20 miles and 1,400m ascent or so. I can’t wait.
Psssst…if you’re in our private ‘A Year to Heal’ facebook group I’m hoping to take you through a perfect meditation very soon, in case you can’t get out into the wilds in body. You can always get there with your imagination ;0) instead. Hope to see you there.