How to keep exercising outdoors in the drought

“How CAN you keep exercising outdoors in the drought????”

I’m writing this blog post because over the past year lots of people have said they just don’t know how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. We typically think of nature as nurturing and health-giving, a place of solace and retreat. Being confronted by a shockingly dry environment with frequent bushfires, brown landscapes that used to be green, National Park closures, and dry waterways, it’s clear that nature has a shadow side as well.

flowers before the drought

“It’s REALLY tough!”

To be completely open, I’ve also questioned how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. The whole climatic situation has been tough. Really tough! The ripple effect of the drought has swept up farmers, wildlife, local businesses, ‘town’ people, and those in the cities. We’re all affected in various ways either directly or indirectly. There’s a pervasive and damaging sense of hopelessness, and like any emotion, it’s contagious. Yet a sense of hope is exactly what we need to survive difficult or traumatic situations. Where there’s hope, there’s life. Without it, we spiral into a self-fulfilling doom and gloom mentality.

Exercising outdoors has been very confronting. I can’t walk on my home trails without seeing or smelling death. The brown dust colours my view as if I’m looking through a sepia filter. Ticks are in plague proportions. Swarms of good ole slow country flies are driving me nuts. The heat is unbearable. And there’s not enough water for washing your hair after a workout.

My stress tank is overflowing! How about you?

My connection with nature runs very deep, as does my yearning to be active. But in this tough time, I also came down with shingles. My stress tank began to overflow. I had to do something differently. Bushwalking and bike riding whilst constantly thinking about the drought and feeling unwell was contributing to the stress.

So what CAN you do when being in nature is SO stressful?

You have to put your creative thinking hat on to find a solution when things get tough. What worked before is no longer effective. The questions people keep asking me (and that I wanted solutions for too) are:

  • How can I reconnect with the side of nature that heals and nurtures and teaches?
  • How can I enjoy my time outdoors without feeling overwhelmed?
  • What mindset shift do I need?
  • What actions do I need to take?
  • How can I keep exercising everyday?
exercising in the drought
Exercising in the drought has it’s challenges

So I set you to explore this new territory and experiment with the possibilities!

Here are 6 solutions that I’ve discovered. I hope they work for you too!

1. Podcasts

If you haven’t got on the bandwagon yet, then you really need to! Podcasts are audio shows, a bit like a radio show, that you can either stream from the Internet or download onto a device to listen to later. I download episodes from my favourite shows onto my phone, plug my ear phones in, and listen to inspiring, energising interviews while I walk. Instead of focusing my attention on my surroundings, I lose myself in the show and arrive back home with excitement for life and new ideas to put into action. Watch out for a future blog post about my favourite podcasts suitable for Android or Apple.

2. Set an Intention

Before heading out on a walk or ride, I often choose an intention – something I want to focus on or get out of my experience. This is a personal choice, so it can be anything at all. Some of the intentions I’ve set for myself go like this:
“Today I will notice new growth”
“Today I will focus on the sensations in my legs”
“Today I will find fun”
“Today I will discover colour”
“Today I will notice sounds”

3. Mindful Walking

With mindful walks I like to focus on one sense at a time and when I notice my mind has wandered away from my body, I gently bring it back to rest on my senses. I’ve especially enjoyed focusing on my sense of hearing – noticing the many different bird calls, the sounds of the breeze in the trees, my footsteps on the ground, insects buzzing around, wallabies bounding along. I usually focus on one sense for a few minutes, then move onto another one. With my sense of touch, I focus on how it feels to have clothes on my skin, feet in my shoes as I take a step, muscle movement, sunscreen on my face, leaves brushing my skin. When I focus on my sense of sight, I challenge myself to find colours and light and patterns that I don’t normally notice. You can also use a meditation app with a guided practice for mindfulness of walking.

4. Photography

I’ve discovered that taking photos along the way really helps me to bring my attention to the beautiful things. Sometimes I combine photography with an intention or a mindful walk so that I can collect images that bring me joy, and at the same time it helps my brain to collect evidence that there is hope.

5. Make it Social

Walking or riding with other people can be really helpful because the focus is on that invisible connection between myself and someone else. Give me a deep and meaningful conversation with a friend any day, plenty of laughs, a chance to debrief the stuff of life that drives me crazy, and to celebrate the rest. Sometimes, too, there’s a sneaky competitive edge that sees me running or riding faster when I’m with others. Inevitably that ends up in a heap of laughs too, gasping for air, heart pounding out of my chest, and the satisfaction that I’ve done my weekly interval training.

6. Mix it up

I’ve always said “I’m not a gym person”. I’ve built a business and identity around my outdoor adventures. BUT, being unwell and being in the drought has helped me re-set my rigid thinking about exercise. Instead of going outdoors everyday, I went to an aqua class with a friend, did loops of the river walk in town where it’s a bit greener, and took up an irresistible offer to join a gym. I’ve extended the variety of exercise I get which is a fantastic thing! It will help me enjoy and have greater success with my outdoor adventuring which I’m still doing at least a couple of times a week. Going to the gym also gets me focusing on my sadly neglected strength training (one of those things I really ‘should’ be doing at my age!), all whilst staying out of the flies and heat. I get to make new friends and pace myself sensibly (sort of) as I recuperate. At home I’ve also begun a more regular yoga practice – something I’ve been wanting to do but it’s been a lower priority until now.

To Sum Up: Choose Your Focus!

It’s really all about CHOOSING WHAT YOU FOCUS ON. When we feel like we have What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?no control or influence over a situation (like the drought), it’s important to push the pause button, think about it creatively, and choose your focus. Like many people, I’ve struggled with exercising outdoors in the drought. The ideas I’ve shared in this article have made a huge difference to me, my mental state and my physical health. My hope is that they help you too.

Let me know what works for you! Have you got some other ideas to share with our readers?

Daisy Spoke

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.

Women Empowered: Framing My Future with Financial Confidence

Daisy Spoke Banner

Have you booked for the evening of retreat “Women Empowered: Framing My Future” coming up on Wednesday 21st March 2018 in Warwick, Queensland? It’s going to be an absolute delight to welcome you along! The Women Empowered retreats have been very popular in past years, and to keep up with changing times I’m offering this retreat in the evening instead of during the day. I’m keen to see how that suits everyone and whether this is a format you’d like repeated in future. I’m also keen to tell you a bit more about what to expect when you come along to “Framing My Future”.

Women Empowered Logo

Dream Big!

There’s no shortage of media images these days prompting women to dream and achieve Dream Biganything they want. It’s a message that’s intended to be encouraging by chipping away at the gender stereotypes our society has constructed over many generations. For so many reasons we know that women can, and do, achieve amazing things in our world. There are many wonderful role models who inspire and propel us towards our own version of success.

Obstacles lurking beneath the surface

Yet beneath it all continues to lurk a tangle of obstacles, deeply rooted and barely visible to the eye until we dig down through the layers, bringing them into the light of day. Thus begins the process of empowering women to not only take charge of their dreams, but to have the skills to manage the obstacles along the way.

The voices in our heads

I’m a big fan of dreams (and I do a lot of dreaming!) and I’ve often written and spoken about goal-setting previously. When used appropriately, dreaming and goal-setting is very powerful. It brings us to a position of being future focused. Sure, not everyone is comfortable with this. Human brains are preset to focus on problems (that’s how humans have survived for so long!), and so our angst rises with every thought of following a dream. The barriers, the obstacles, the hurdles, the roadblocks – call them what you willthey generally get in the way preventing us from following through with actions, and even from getting started in the first place. They wield their power not so much through their actual ‘being’, but through the unseen voices in our heads telling us we can’t do it, it won’t work, we’re not good enough, and we’ll fail if we try.

Don't believe everything you thinkSounding familiar? The thing is we often don’t even realise it’s happening, and when we do notice it, we keep it to ourselves because we think we’re the only ones. But have I got news for you! All of us have those critical voices. YES! All of us! They’re the voices of self-doubt, fear, hopelessness and pessimism. They keep us small when we need to be big. And the way to deal with them is to bring them out into the open. Straight away their power begins to diminish.

Read more about the voices in my head here!

Financial confidence is an obstacle

Two of the hidden obstacles that frequently impact women are financial confidence and emotional confidence. These are the key themes at my next retreat “Framing my Future”. We’re going to dig them up and shine a light on them. We’ll bring them to the surface and get to know them a little better. We’ll scratch away and see what they’re made of. And we’ll use them to propel ourselves forwards towards our hopes and dreams for the future instead of allowing them to trip us up and keep us where we are.

Create a powerful mindset for your future!

Well actually, yes I can!The beauty of the process is that you don’t have to even have any real idea of where you want your future to be heading in order to benefit from this retreat. You’ll leave with the skills to create a powerful mindset to identify, challenge and manage your financial and emotional confidence no matter what path you take.

Retreat activities

I’m truly excited to be a part of this unique retreat! I believe when women gather together in groups with openness, warm-heartedness and shared intentions, that’s when magic happens! So I hope you’ll join us for this exquisite evening. Donna Neale-Arnold will be my co-facilitator. Donna brings a warm, caring and holistic approach to her financial therapy and homeopathy practices. She has a rich experience having worked in the corporate sector as well as community services and the health sector for many years.

Donna and I will guide you through a series of personal reflections followed by simple yet Creative Artspowerful creative activities. The gentle pace will support you to make valuable connections with your own beliefs and actions around financial confidence. You’ll identify the mindset you need to bolster your financial and emotional confidence, and to frame the future you choose. You will be provided with a light meal, delightful company and a gorgeous keepsake to take home with you that will frame your future perfectly.

Bonuses!

CD Give-awayWe will be giving away some special bonuses and door prizes at the retreat including beautiful journals, meditation cushions, carry bags, a Tony O’Connor CD of relaxation music, and more – fabulous gifts to support your self-care and progression!

Bookings are essential

Bookings are essential and limited spaces are available. It’s more fun with a friend or two (or more) so we are offering discounts when you book multiple tickets at the same time.

Here’s the deal: 3 hours of guided reflective retreat with two experienced facilitators, a light meal, all materials, a take home keepsake, a nurturing atmosphere to support your financial and emotional confidence, and opportunities to leave with a special bonus door prize.

Your investment: 

  • Single ticket: $55
  • Double ticket: $100
  • Triple ticket: $140

To book, click here

For more information view the Facebook Event here

If you have questions, email Kathryn here

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.