Everyday in the Outdoors

everyday in the outdoors sunrise

Intentionally spending time everyday in the outdoors can add amazing value to your day, to your mental health and to your life in general. Yet many people rush through their day without even a thought about it. When you invest time and energy into connecting with the outdoors and with nature each day, you stand to gain multiple health benefits including improved attention, reduced stress levels, improved sleep and a better mood. Spending even just a few minutes outside each day can start to make a difference.

Recently the Outdoors is my Therapy Facebook Group ran a 7 Day Challenge to share ideas about some of the ways we can all get connected with the outdoors on a more regular basis – so we feel better! And live better! All of these are completely do-able, perhaps with some modifications, no matter your fitness level, age, where you live or how mobile you are. Here are the 7 challenges we undertook to spend time everyday in the outdoors:

GO FOR A WALK

I’m referring here to simply walking around, moving your larger muscle groups and immersing yourself in your surroundings. Whilst daily exercise is very important, the act of getting your body in motion and connecting with the outdoors is the focus here. You can take a walk at various times during the day depending what works best for your routine.

Morning walk

Getting out into the natural sunlight first thing in the day helps your brain to wake up, re-sets your body clock so you’re ready for sleep again after dark, and forms a solid foundation for your day.

Lunch time walk

A mid-day walk helps to break up your day. Getting outside your usual workplace and changing your focus is one of the best stress breaks you can give yourself. Perhaps you’ll love it so much you’ll incorporate a daily constitutional into your regular workday routine.

End of the day walk

A stroll at the end of the day signifies the end of work and helps you transition to family time, personal time or relaxation time. Walking as the sun goes down is especially helpful to switch modes and settle for the evening.

WITNESS SUNRISE & SUNSET

Begin your day with the waking light of dawn and finish your work day as the sun sinks below the horizon – nature’s perfect bookends for your day! If you practise yoga, why not do some sun salutations as the sun rises or sets. Or use this special time for personal prayer, meditation or breathing or stillness practices. Sunrise and sunset are global phenomena which can help us feel connected with other people and places.

SPEND TIME IN A GARDEN

Are you fortunate enough to have your own outside yard? Or do you have pot plants, indoor plants or access to a local park or green space? Maybe you have an in-house kitchen garden with herbs or bean sprouts growing? Your daily garden routine could include weeding, pruning, watering, planting or harvesting. It could also include more physically demanding jobs such as fencing, making compost and nurturing your worm farm. If you don’t have your own garden, you can spend time planning your dream garden, creating a garden either in the earth, on your balcony or on your kitchen bench. Or you can use your senses to enjoy nature’s handiwork outdoors.

HAVE A GO AT BIRDWATCHING

Bring your attention to the bird life around you. What birds can you see? And hear? You might like to identify the various birds in your neighbourhood, or simply watch and listen to them. Over time you’ll notice their patterns and routines, flight paths, nesting sites, amusing behaviours, social groupings, and how they respond to seasonal changes.

PRACTISE MINDFUL PRACTICES

Mindfulness-based practices are wide and varied. In general the focus is on slowing down and bringing your attention to your surroundings and your experiences in the moment. This can be challenging because we spend so much of our lives rushing around.

Sensory mindfulness

One way to practise mindfulness in the outdoors is to observe the world around you through each of your senses one by one. Spend a couple of minutes noticing what you see, then move on to noticing what you hear, what you smell, what you feel, and so on.

Mindful walk

There are many variations of mindful walks too. You can be barefoot or wearing shoes. Begin by pausing for a few moments, close your eyes, take a few breaths and tune into how that feels in your body. Notice the sensations of the ground beneath your feet. Slowly open your eyes and draw your gaze to the ground slightly ahead of you. Move slowly forward one step at a time, bringing your attention to the sensations as you move your foot forward – lifting, moving, placing it down, and adjusting your balance. Repeat this for each step you take bringing your attention back to the sensations of walking each time your mind wanders. Continue for a few minutes, then when you are ready to finish, pause again, close your eyes, take a few breaths and then open your eyes. This is a wonderful moment for a gratitude practice.

FIND THE LITTLE TREASURES

Make new discoveries in your outdoor spaces every day. When you begin to look, you can find little treasures everywhere! Cobwebs hiding in the corners of the fence. Bugs scurrying in search of new homes. Grasses beginning to seed. Leaves swaying in the breeze. The soft sound of bird wings as they fly by. Grains of sand sparkling in the sunlight. The feel of the breeze as it moves your hair or caresses your skin. The smell of the eucalyptus tree.

CELEBRATE LIFE WITH A PICNIC

Picnics are the perfect way to celebrate life and the outdoors. They are equally delightful whether you go solo or share it with others. Picnics can be simple or complex, planned or spontaneous, romantic or practical. All you need is some food and somewhere suitable outdoors. You might like to have a picnic rug, chairs or a park bench to sit on, but finding a fallen log or rock is heaps of fun too.

Pre-preparing picnic food can be pretty special, however turning your ordinary everyday meal into a picnic outdoors is a fabulous way to liven up your day. If you like, you can bring some extra activities with you such as a camera to do some photography, bat and ball games, “I Spy” games, books and crosswords. Turn your picnic into an adventure by adding a physical challenge to it, for example hiking or biking into your picnic spot.

Let's sum up!
We had a lot of fun sharing these activities during our 7 Day Outdoor Challenge. Which ones would you like to incorporate into your routine for getting outdoors everyday? Or what other actions are you feeling inspired to take to get connected everyday in the outdoors?

Head over to our Facebook Group to view the videos and threads about our #7DayOutdoorChallenge and share your ideas with us. By the way (if you’re not already a member) when you request to join the Group you’ll be asked to answer some questions before you can join (so we know you’re not a robot!) and you need to agree to the rules which are there to keep the group as a safe space for sharing and inspiring.

You can also listen to this article in the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast!

Kathryn talks you through how you can incorporate a daily routine of spending time in the outdoors that works for you!

Daisy Spoke avatar has long curly hair and smiling mouth

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Busy Head Syndrome, Weeding and Creating a Clearing

“The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett is one of those books that I definitely have in my basket of ‘all time favourites’. Having read it many times as a child and an adult, I well and truly relate to many of the scenes. One that sticks in my mind is when Mary secretly lets herself into the garden that has been locked up for many years, and without knowing anything about gardening, she instinctively clears little patches of earth surrounding the green shoots she finds in the ground.

She did not know anything about gardening, but the grass seemed so thick in some of the places where the green points were pushing their way through that she thought they did not seem to have room enough to grow. She searched about until she found a rather sharp piece of wood and knelt down and dug and weeded out the weeds and grass until she made nice little clear places around them. “Now they look as if they could breathe,” she said …..’

*AC85 B9345 911s, Houghton Library, Harvard University

It was only later that Mary discovered her instincts guided her wisely.

I remember the therapeutic effect of clearing weeds in the garden as a child. And as an adult I still get a kick out of weeding. The end result always improves the wellbeing of my much loved herb and vegetable garden, but of even greater consequence is the clearing it provides in my own head! Being self-diagnosed with ‘Busy Head Syndrome’, my mind is a veritable storehouse of ideas, thoughts, creations, experiences, fantasies, memories and dreams. It can get pretty noisy in there! But with each weed from the garden that I pile onto the compost heap, my head goes through a parallel process of clearing out and letting go.

Some people describe the process of de-cluttering the house or cleaning out a cupboard in a similar way. I’m often amazed at the different life lessons we can learn from our ordinary everyday activities – if we pause for long enough to think about it.

Now, with my busy week coming up, I’m off to do some weeding in the garden – to clear some space not only for my shallots and asparagus, but the inside of my head too!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

13 Things To Do When It’s Too Wet For MTB

For nearly 2 weeks the weather has been drizzly and windy. It’s exciting to see the browns turn to bright greens as the water soaks in and gives us hope that we won’t forever more be living in drought. But with our usual MTB trails and State Forests closed until the ground dries out, we have to get our fix in other ways.

Here are 13 different things that I’ve been doing instead of riding in the great outdoors. What other ideas do you have?

1. Baking. Especially coffee muffins. Perfect for your next mid-ride snack!

2. Go for a walk. If you can’t do it on two wheels, do it on two legs. Get out of doors, into nature and breathe in that fresh air.

3. Pace out that tricky section of MTB trail that gets you stuck. As you become more familiar with the tricky technical bits, you’ll be able to find a line and visualise yourself riding it. A great set-up for the next time you ride.

4. Spring clean that cupboard that’s been on your to-do list for months but you’ve been too busy riding to get to it. Admittedly, not as fulfilling as riding right now, but think of your sense of satisfaction as you cross it off your list knowing you’ve well and truly earned your next ride.

5. Rearrange your furniture, reorganise your shed or change-up your bike storage. The process of sorting and organising can be inspiring as well as energising, and flows into other areas of our lives.

6. Plan your next holiday or MTB adventure. Read, research, talk to others, plot a route on a map, create a budget, make some bookings. You know you want to!

7. Give your bike/s a bit of love and care. Catch up on your maintenance and servicing activities to keep your best buddy rolling along through your next adventure.

8. Remember those hobbies you used to have before you discovered the joys of MTB? Yeh, well they’re still waiting for you, so make the most of the rainy weather and immerse yourself in your other loves.

9. Go on a picnic with your family. You know, those other non-riding people you live with? Show them a bit of love and maybe at the same time you could check out that new trail in preparation for the next time you go riding!

10. Core strength training. We all know that MTB is so much fun that we make that our priority, and the added extras like core strength training are a bit hit or miss. So unroll your yoga mat while you have the chance and work those abs!

11. Gardening. It’s amazing how much strength training you can accomplish by even gentle weeding, pruning and digging in the garden. You’ll be sore the next day – proof that you’ve worked those muscles that have been sadly neglected through focused bike riding.

12. House management tasks. Get them done now while you can. Tomorrow could be perfect riding weather and you don’t want to be stuck in the house cleaning or needing to go to the grocery store when you could be outside with your friends riding.

13. Indoor training. Interval training on the stationary bike to your favourite rock music that gets your legs spinning, your heart pumping, and the time flying by. Bruce Springsteen’s my all time favourite. Nothing beats a good workout to the tunes of “Come on up for the Rising”, “Waiting on a Sunny Day”, “Rosalita”, and “Born to Run”. You’ll feel the difference in your fitness next time you have a real dinky-di outdoors-y MTB ride!

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

 

Spring Cleaning My Life

YellowDaisy

Why wait for spring??? Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year! I love the feeling associated with cleaning out the house, office and car, de-cluttering my environment, and letting go of those things that have accumulated over the past months, year, or longer. This action of making space also adds to my sense of renewal, of making a fresh start. And it’s energising and satisfying.

Spring cleaning contributes to a sense of order, healthy attachment, and organisation. It gives us renewed energy, like a gentle breeze on a hot day. We’ve cleaned out the cobwebs and feel fresh and clean again.

spiderwebdsb

And it’s not only our houses, gardens, offices and cars that need regular spring cleaning. Our minds need de-cluttering from time to time too. We can unpack our inner lives, re-organise our thoughts and attitudes, simplify our lives, and reach a new understanding of everything and everyone around us, including ourselves.

A great way to de-clutter the mind is through regular exercise – running, boxing, swimming, cycling, and so on. Some people find it beneficial to spend time alone gardening, listening to music, painting, reading, meditating or simply ‘being’. Even spring cleaning the house can be a fantastic way to clear the cobwebs of the mind!

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What works for you? How do you de-clutter your life, your mind, your surroundings?

Logo 2 shorter hairRemember …. no matter what the season, there is always an opportunity and many benefits to spring cleaning!