How to get motivated to get outdoors

Today we’re diving back into the topic of motivation which is always a very popular theme when it comes to anything that feels like hard work including exercise. I’ve previously written about how to get motivated for exercise so this time we’re going to explore motivation from a different but related perspective – how to get motivated to get outdoors more often.

The outdoors can help you get more movement into your day

The thought of exercise can be overwhelming. Some people really don’t like it and some people struggle to get into a regular routine because of health, mobility or medical issues. Perhaps you’re one of them. Or maybe there’s another reason that you struggle with exercise. But ….. did you know that the most important thing – even more than exercise – is movement?!

Exercise is fabulous for so many reasons, and yes, I’m passionate about this topic, but it’s absolutely critical that exercise is built on a strong foundation of general movement right throughout the day. Here’s where nature can help you if you struggle with either exercise, or generally being active and moving around more. When you include contact with nature in your daily routine, you’ll get outdoors more often, move more, sit less, and you’ll find joy in life and joy in connecting with nature. Your body will also benefit from the boost of Vitamin D it gets when you get outside into the sunshine.

Find your own reason to get outdoors

If you do find it difficult to get outdoors and into nature, even though you know it’s good for you, try to find another reason or a purpose for going outside. It’s much better to feel positive and drawn towards it than feeling like you ‘should’ or ‘have to’.

Grow potted plants or a garden

potted plantsYou could try growing some plants in pots or in a garden if you have enough space. Or you could have a go at growing salad greens and herbs in your kitchen. Plants can give you a reason to get up and get active when you look forward to nurturing and harvesting them. Checking on your plants every day gets you into a habit of connecting with nature. It helps you to get a daily routine going. Over time you can watch your plant habitat expand and before you know it there’ll be insects, butterflies, birds, bees, frogs and even spiders all sharing the space with your plants (especially if they’re outside) which is a sign of a healthy micro-habitat.

Look Out and Up

If growing plants is not your thing, you can still look for another reason or purpose to get outdoors and connect with nature that’s meaningful for you. Even if going outside is not an option, you can create a routine of looking out a window, for example, at birds as they fly by. Perhaps they’re searching for food, nesting or calling out to each other. Or you can look up at the clouds and notice their movement. Clouds never seem to stay still. They constantly morph from one shape, colour and texture to another.

Nature Walks and Journals

Are you up for a little more activity than simply observing what’s around? You could aim for a daily walk to a nature strip or park and notice the changes in your surroundings each day. Some of them will be obvious, and others much more subtle. It can get you wondering what changes you’ll see tomorrow when you next come back. You can make a mental note of the changes, or you might enjoy keeping a journal of what you see and hear on your outings. In your journal you can use words, but you can also use images. You might like to take a series of photos of something growing or changing, or keep some audio recordings of the sounds you hear in nature.

Learn and Grow

Take your noticing and journalling one step further by tapping into the resources in your community or on the Internet so that you learn more about nature and the outdoors. You can use bird and plant identification apps and books, online interest groups such as the Outdoors is my Therapy Facebook Group, clubs and you can simply ask other people what they know about the things you’ve seen or heard.

Set Yourself a Challenge

Staying motivated with your habit of regularly getting outdoors can be helped along by setting a challenge for yourself. This could include committing to a daily garden check or recording the birds you see for a week. Set a specific time of the day to do this that will work for you. For example, if you’re usually up and about early or spend time winding down after a day at work in the late afternoon, these would be ideal times to do a bird check because that’s when many birds are most active.

Notice the Little Treasures That Tell a Story

glistening spider webDon’t forget that the little things in nature can also help you get motivated to establish a daily routine of getting outdoors. Have you ever been the first person to walk through a cobweb as you explore the park or bushland? I certainly have! I don’t like the feeling of sticky cobweb across my face and the panic of wondering if there’s a spider clinging to my back, but I am constantly amazed at how the spider can rebuild the web overnight and there it is the next day, stretched across the same bit of walking trail.

If you find something like this in your local area whether it’s a cobweb, a little cluster of flowers, an ant hole, a tree with buds, a creek weir, or whatever it is, check on it every day to see what you can see. You will discover the secret life of the natural world all around you when you take a few moments to pause and notice.

Over time, these little discoveries will tell you a story. A story that will compel you to keep coming back day after day so you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch the next chapter.

What motivates you to get outdoors?

Some of us are motivated to get outdoors simply for health reasons. Some of us are not. But perhaps you will be motivated to see what’s calling for your attention outdoors once you get to know it better and discover nature’s secrets in your local neighbourhood. Too often we focus on the big, obvious things in life. I encourage you to focus on developing small habits – small changes to your routine. Look for the little treasures and let the motivation flow in its own time.

spend time in nature

If you would like more motivation and inspiration to connect with the outdoors, subscribe to my newsletter Grounded Inspiration.

Listen to the audio version of this post in the Outdoors is my Therapy Podcast Episode 25!

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

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.