for those who love the outdoors

9 November, 2022


Do you need a little self-love?

Once upon a time, not very long ago in fact, the idea of well being was confined to spa breaks, beach holidays and 'retail therapy'. We've had a wake up call in recent years, and part of that wake up is the realisation that nature provides many answers in our search for good health and a peaceful mind.

Hiking group walk bonding on The Blorenge Black Mountains

We have woken up to the fact that there is more to life than being an earner and spender, winner or loser, in a couple or single - outdated values and categories that have been shaping our modern lives for hundreds of years!

Do you need a little self-love?

Who knew? Ten years ago, the notion of well-being and making the best of ourselves was associated with saunas, salad munching and beach-body ready holidays, with some dreaded treadmill pounding thrown in as self-punishment for the donut-chewing-biscuit-dunking-wine-glugging-screen-gazing sessions which propped us up through the endless dark, winter months. Thankfully we’ve finally started talking about well-being in a different light and realised that wellness is wholly dependent on the eco-system that is mind, body and soul.

Friend, not foe

Nature intended us to be in sync with ourselves, not ‘controlling’ or ‘battling’ our human condition like a foe. The notion of ‘self-love’ is mostly a bit alien to us westerners, in our gym-sweating-work-all-hours-to-be-successful culture. Added to that, the brushed metal object welded to our palm, if not as we speak, is certainly within arm’s reach, dictates our mood and is the very master of our dominant feelings and state of mind for the day.

“There’s gold in them there hills”

Well, you will certainly find the foundations for peace of mind in the countryside and nature, even if gold itself is a little scarce, but you will begin to reconnect with your sorely neglected soul. Riches indeed. No wonder the Japanese founded the concept of Forest Bathing (shinrin-yoku) in the 1980s – a physiological and psychological exercise ethos which makes so much sense. The steadfastness of trees, the timelessness of the seasons and the perfection of nature, combine to soothe our senses, like a warm bubble bath comforts and supports a tired mind and body.

Better sleep, sunnier outlook

“I slept like a baby”. When was the last time you were able to make such a claim and woke up feeling rested, with a benevolent outlook on life and your fellow (wo)man? I can honestly say that I sleep better on days when I’ve been out in the hill for several hours, arriving back home feeling tired, but in a good way. Not exhausted and spent but satisfied that I’ve earned myself that can of cider, glass of wine, or whatever. The best part is that my poor brain has had a rest from ruminating and chewing over conundrums I can’t find answers for. In short, I achieve a little perspective on life’s ups and downs and get a lift to my spirits in the process.

Laugh and the whole world laughs with you

So, why not join a walking group and you will be reminded how to laugh at the funny side of life, see things that you have never noticed before when travelling from A to B in a car, or lend a sympathetic ear to a fellow walker. We get time to put our daily woes in context and rediscover that people are funny, kind-hearted, equally unsure, putting on a brave face for the world half the time, and putting a best foot forward. We can forget ourselves for a while and put our fears and self-doubts to one side for a few hours.

The world looks a whole lot better, warts and all, after a day out in nature, where humans are just another species on the planet. Being in the great outdoors with others is a great equaliser too. We are all just humans in need of a little self-love.

FIVE simple things that you can do to help you get the most out of your time in the outdoors and will ground you, calm your mind and restore a sense of well-being. This is perfect for adults and youngsters alike:

SEE – what can you see? Try and spot five different colours of green. Hint: Look for evergreen trees, moss, grass, plants growing out of a brick wall.

TOUCH - four different things around you. Hint: Feel the roughness of the bark of a tree, pick up a leaf and feel its smoothness, sense the wind blowing on your face, find a round pebble on the beach.

LISTEN – can you hear three things? Hint: Can you hear any birds? Do you hear a distant plane in the sky? Or the wind? Perhaps the soft tapping sound of rain drops on leaves?

BREATHE - take two deep breaths – what can you smell? Hint: The sea air? Damp earth? Chips from a takeaway van?

TASTE- just one thing. Hint: Sip a cup of hot chocolate, savour the taste, focus on every mouthful. Or munch on a picnic sandwich. Does it taste even better when eaten outdoors in the fresh air?

Andrea Harris

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Hi, my name is Andrea and I love the great outdoors!

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