Mini adventures that feel like big adventures for when you’re short on time.
How I create a joyful, yet restorative outdoor adventure out of an hour or so a week.
Although I LOVE being outdoors, it is one of the things I let go whenever my life gets busy. I don’t seem to value it enough and I let other stuff take precedence, forgetting how much it heals me and revives me. But not this year. In January I decided to take an hour once a week, every week to be outdoors by myself. I chose it to be first thing in the morning – I leave the house around 7am, my husband is off work so he does school drop off, and I’m home in time for breakfast and to get a day of work done. I do much better in the morning – my mind doesn’t have as much time to talk me out of it! And I have probably missed only 3 – once when I was ill, once because of a storm and once because we were on holiday. 7 months later it is now so firmly set in my week and such a strong habit that I will never let it go. It is my new normal to devote that time outside to myself.
I know we are all so busy for a multitude of reasons – (mine due to full time working and a 5 year old), but we truly deserve to gift ourselves some freedom if we can. Here’s some of the things I do with my hour or so that really make a big difference to my week. Maybe you could try them too – in the countryside near to you, your local park, or your garden!
Firstly I try to not overthink the weather – I’ve had a handful of beautiful sunny mornings but for the most part here in Hebden Bridge they are drizzly and cloudy and cold! If I let the weather stop me I’d rarely be out. And there’s nothing like sitting fairly dry under a tree with a flask of tea while it rains around you!
- I start my mini adventure by walking to a swim spot. Along the way I just let my mind wonder, shake off whats happened that week and take deep breaths in the fresh cool morning air. The air smells so good at that time of day! I have a very short swim (more of a dip) in a river pool. Wild swimming might not be for you in which case you could just jump to the next step but if it is do give it a go! Trust me when I say I am anxious around water and very risk averse generally in personality. I stay within my depth and don’t stay in long. Check out safety tips yourself but mine would be – start in summer so you can build up tolerance for winter swims / always go with someone else until you feel confident / have a hot drink for after or get walking again quickly (the water is still very cold in summer) / have lots of layers (even in summer) / use waterproof socks/gloves.
- Then I take a walk to peaceful spot that I love. Again I just let my mind do it’s crazy thing where a trillion thoughts happen a minute – I kind of accept that I’ve got to let my mind churn them out for some peace later. As I allow my mind to do it’s thing I naturally start to feel calmer. With intention I take care to notice the little details around me – the weeds growing from the gaps in the rocks, the tiny wildflowers so easily missed, and the array of beautiful grasses you might not have appreciated before. I touch them gently and admire their intricacies, recognising that I am also an amazing life form – just built in a different way.
- When I reach my spot I get out my sit mat (would totally recommend getting one – so cheap and brings me so much joy not least so I can sit somewhere dry on cold and wet park trips with the 5 year old in winter!) And I open my hot flask of tea. I have a trillion hot drinks a day and I’ve already had a vat of coffee before 7am so at this point I like something citrusy – an earl grey mixed with rooibos should you be interested! I bring a notebook with me, sometimes I write in it and sometimes I just sit there watching the bugs, the grasses and the birds. If I’m in the mood to write I may just write out my social media caption for the day, scribble out an entire blog post or journal about something that has been bothering me. If journaling is new to you – check out some prompts to get you going. Incidentally I’m also on Pinterest here. When you sit there still for a long time you start to feel like you have just blended into nature. The birds and the bugs seem to forget you are there and you start to feel exquisitely invisible yet part of it all 🙂
- My walk home is an easy meander down a track and its at this point that I do some intentional meditating. Forever inspired by the late and great Thich Nhat Hanh, I practice a walking meditation. Trust me again that this doesn’t come naturally to me. I am an over-thinker and my mind gets the better of me constantly. The idea is that you become present with each step you take. You may focus on your breath in and out or on the feel of your feet on the ground. When you feel your mind wondering as it will as thats it’s job you just come back to the breath and your feet. Some days I manage this better than others. But if in 15 mins I have only managed 5 breaths in stillness I still put that down as a win as it’s 5 more than I would have otherwise had.
- And then I get home and start my work day, feeling pride that I am still doing this outdoor practise months on, energised from being out in nature and just generally more relaxed and at ease.
And finally for some last bits that I’ve saved for the end as most people have probably got bored and left and hopefully my true supporters who haven’t left 😉 won’t find me too wacky for these:
- Through my walk to the sit spot I often leap over rocks and jump off them just for the feeling of fun, in a childlike way. Also it feels good that my body can still do such things!
- I pat and touch the trees. When you’re outside at that time alone you can sometimes feel quite isolated – sometimes that feels exciting and sometimes a bit scary. The trees feel like your companions and I honestly feel like touching their beautiful barks and holding your hands to them does something magical to your body. It’s like they suck out your negative energy, I don’t know, but it feels good 🙂
I hope you can get outside and practise some of these simple steps – let me know if you do, I’d be so happy to hear from you.
Bye for now,