Adventures are for everyone

I believe that adventures are for everyone. Yet people tell me all sorts of reasons why they don’t or can’t have adventures in their lives.

wild flowers in background with text that says adventures are for everyone

What’s stopping YOU from leading a life of adventure?

The most common reasons people give me are:

  • I’m too old, my adventuring days are long gone
  • I’m not fit / strong / co-ordinated enough
  • I don’t have enough money
  • I’ve got too much pain
  • I’m too scared to do adventurous things
  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t have the energy
  • It looks too hard
  • I can’t leave my children / partner / dependants / pets
  • I can’t have time off work
  • My health won’t allow me
  • I don’t know anyone else who would want to do it
  • I’ll wait till I feel motivated

Acknowledge the obstacles but don’t let excuses paralyse you

people having a picnic on a grassy road verge with bicycles lying down on the grass
Don’t let your fears and lack of confidence stop you from having adventures in life

These are all legitimate issues that need to be acknowledged and talked about. But it’s vital you don’t stop there with simply talking or whingeing. You see, the thing is that whingeing can turn into excuses. Excuses can turn into paralysis because you can’t see a way forward. Being stuck in a rut is no fun and the downward spiral can be terrifying.

The excuses that have paralysed me

I’m writing this post, not only because I’m a mental health social worker and it’s my job to share information that improves your wellbeing. I’m also a human being and I know what it’s like to be sick and in pain and to care for dependants who are sick and in pain. I’ve spent 29 years as a stay at home Mum prioritising my children’s needs above all else, working part-time jobs and building a business around them as they grew up. I know what it’s like to be sleep deprived, devoid of energy, overwhelmed and scared. I’ve often been geographically isolated from friends and didn’t want to go along to activities on my own. Money, fitness and skill have definitely been obstacles to enjoying adventures. And as I get older I’ve had those thoughts of “Hmmm….am I too old for this? Will I hurt myself? Does anyone else my age do this?”

Learn to manage the obstacles

So I’m not anyone special when it comes to adventures. I don’t have any superpowers, and I don’t have any magic fixes but I have learned a lot about the link between mental health and an adventurous mindset. By learning to manage my obstacles I’ve stepped into another world of excitement, confidence and hopefulness and I’d like to share my ideas with you so that you can too. My way of managing my obstacles and excuses may not work for you. After all, we’re all different, so you’ll need to spend some time experimenting to see what works for you.

Are you open to the possibility of adventure? And all the benefits that go with it? Read my blog post about Why You Need To Have An Adventure Goal

Getting past your obstacles

You’ll need to think creatively about your obstacles, those things that get in the way of you having adventures in life. Thinking about the problems in the same old way you always have probably won’t get you anywhere. A great place to start is rethinking your ideas about exactly what an adventure is.

Adventures DON’T have to be physically demanding!

Let’s get the definition straight here – adventures DON’T have to be physically demanding, world record-breaking feats although that’s what we generally think of when we hear the word. These sorts of activities make for dramatic headlines but there’s much more to an adventurous life than that.

Adventures stretch you outside your comfort zone

An adventure is anything you do that challenges yourself in some way. It usually involves an element of RISK (eg physical, emotional or social) and stretches you OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE either a little bit or a lot – and that’s different for everyone. If it makes you feel nervous or excited and is outside your comfort zone, then it’s an adventure! How cool is that! No comparisons with anyone else (or your younger self) shall be entered into! So, no matter your age, gender, time available or what other responsibilities you have in life, there’s a suitable adventure waiting for you.

Every single day is chock full of opportunities for you to choose your own adventure. So let’s get going!

Choose your own adventure!

people looking up at a waterfall
Hiking to a waterfall is a favourite outdoor adventure

We’ve established that adventures don’t have to be crazy headlining stunts, and that there are opportunities in our everyday lives to experience adventure. Now it’s time to discover some adventures that are just right for you – no matter your age, fitness level, areas of interest or ability. Remember, you need to choose your adventures based on what makes you feel a bit excited or nervous and that’s slightly outside your comfort zone. So grab a notepad and pen, and as you read through the list below, allow yourself to be inspired to create a list of adventures you’d consider taking on this year.

Social Adventures

Contact an old friend
Join a club or social group
Invite someone over for a cuppa
Go to a class and learn a new skill
Connect with an online group
Research your family history
Volunteer at an event or fundraiser
Organise an outing with friends
Meet a friend at a cafe
Go to a conference or community event
Go to a festival you haven’t been to before
Organise a meet-up of extended family, friends or colleagues
Throw a party or have a family picnic

Physical Adventures

Learn a new sport
Join a sporting or exercise club or group
Climb a mountain
Go on a multi-day hike
Try white water rafting
Enter a race
Participate in a charity walk
Explore a National Park
Take up a new hobby

Spiritual and Cultural Adventures

Go to a meditation class
Take up a daily mindfulness practice
Visit a new place
Travel to a place that speaks a foreign language or volunteer with an ESL (English as a second language) class
Eat at a restaurant that serves food you are not familiar with
Prepare a meal using ingredients you don’t usually use
Plant and nurture a garden
Visit a place of worship that you are not familiar with
Help a charity

Mental Adventures

Join a chess or card club
Make or create something new or from repurposed materials
Teach yourself a new skill (eg crochet, painting, whittling, programming, video editing)
Experiment to create your own recipes or designs
Set up an online business
Take a class or sign up to a course
Get a new hobby that uses your brain in new ways
Become a mentor for a new worker
Write a book or start a blog

art and craft materials spread out on a table
Creative adventures can include art and craft at home or at a workshop

What inspired and do-able adventures have you written down on your list?

I’d love to know! Send me a message.

Be your own boss and get that adventure started!

And now it’s time to get started – be your own boss and take the actions you need to sprinkle an adventure or two into your life today.

You can listen to Adventures are for Everyone on the “Outdoors is my Therapy” podcast!

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.

Having a Crack at Chicks in the Sticks

Daisy Field

Have you watched “The Croods”? If not, do yourself a favour and watch this exciting, inspiring family movie starring the voice talent of Emma Stone. The Croods are a cave family living in prehistoric times relying on their sense of fear to keep themselves protected, safe and sound, cocooned in their little familiar world, and avoidant of any risk or danger that might jeopardise their lives. In short, fear has kept them alive. But it has also kept them confined; inhibiting individual family members from living their lives to the full.

TheCroodsCropped

In many ways I’ve lived much of my life like the Croods. Fear has long been my ally signalling danger with a blast of adrenaline and cortisol surging through my body and subsequently bringing with it great waves of nausea, muscle tension, sleeplessness, hyper alertness and fatigue. Fear has kept me safe from many dangers and it has also kept me small in some ways, becoming an obstacle to achieving some of my dreams.

Getting up ‘close and personal’ to your fear is the first step towards reaping its benefits whilst simultaneously learning how to keep it in its place. Throughout my own journey to uncover the true nature of my innermost fears, my eyes were opened to its duality. On the one hand fear has a protective, almost loveable quality, and on the other hand shows characteristics of being a bully by giving voice to my harsh inner critic – self-deprecating and self-defeating. Not wishing to succumb to the tactics of an overprotective ally or an inner bully, I have made conscious choices to work towards my dreams despite what my fears tell me.

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My mountain bike escapades have taken on a new dimension since I made this commitment to myself. I have always shrunk away from the idea of racing because I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace, I don’t have the technical skills, I would get in everyone else’s way, I would probably hurt myself and possibly the rest of the field too, I wouldn’t cope with the heat, my butt would get too sore, I would panic and do something ridiculous like crash on the start line, I would feel miserable ………

KW Helmet

One day recently I made the decision to take action against these fears. I quickly registered for an MTB event before the volume of my inner voice increased any more. “Chicks in the Sticks” is promoted as a women’s only 3 hour enduro event that will ease me into the world of mountain bike racing. The forums are all so positive, the photos full of smiles and camaraderie, and best of all, the grading categories speak the language of newbies like me! I’ve entered “Have a crack” specially for those of us with no prior race experience but simply wanting to have a go.

Chicks in the Sticks

I’m sure my fears will continue to challenge my decision to register, but for now I’m feeling excited! Excited because I’m having a go at something that I thought I probably wouldn’t ever have the guts to do, excited because I’m standing up to my fears, and excited to be part of a community of women who ‘get’ where my confidence is at.

So here I am with only a few weeks to go before the big day! My ‘very-informal-training’ has included going on longer family weekend rides and bringing a greater degree of intensity and variety to my weekday exercise. And I am absolutely loving it! I’ve booked in for some coaching prior to the event to become familiar with the trail and improve my skills to ride the more technical sections. Each of these actions brings new evidence that I CAN do it, and that I WILL do it.

MTB Bike Trail

As the Croods and myself have learned, avoiding everything you fear might keep you hanging on for dear life, but it isn’t much fun. It’s claustrophobic and confining. Life has no variety and risks the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams. By confronting those things we fear, we find new ways of being and doing, and it can open up a whole new world!

What’s the Deal With Exercise?

 

We all know that exercise is generally a good thing we can do for ourselves. Exercise is clearly linked with reduced risk to many health problems, including mental health, and this is where my interest especially lies.

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Social Changes

Over many years our society has gradually developed a more sedentary lifestyle. Our work, home, transport, leisure and play have all become less physically demanding as technology and industry have changed. While our parents, grandparents, great grandparents (and maybe even ourselves!) once spent hours physically kneading bread, beating butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon, digging holes and levelling ground by hand, sweeping the footpath with a broom, chasing each other in an after-school game of tiggy or helping to round up the chooks and cows, we are now much more reliant on our time and energy-saving devices to do the hard work for us or to entertain us.

Imagine living hundreds and thousands of years ago – people were even more active in these times, hunting and gathering food on a daily basis, building and re-building shelters at frequent intervals, tuned into their environments ready to fight, flight or freeze as the need arose. Yes! That thing we now call “anxiety” had a well-defined purpose for basic survival!

There have certainly been lots of changes to our way of living, our surroundings, our environment …… and yet our bodies basically work the same as they always have. In our sedentary lifestyles, we suffer for the lack of activity and exercise that our bodies and minds desperately need. We have discovered that many physical and mental health issues are exacerbated or even caused through lack of activity. Read more about exercise and depression here

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/ExerciseandDepression.pdf

What is the ‘right’ way to exercise?

When we commit to improving our health, whether it’s for our own sake or for the love of our family and community, we might feel pressured to exercise in ‘the right way’. There are lots of conflicting messages out there about what is the best form of exercise, the right time to exercise, and how much exercise we should be doing.

But let’s make one thing clear – doing something is better than nothing. We know the evidence says we need to be active, and throughout history human physical activity has taken all sorts of forms from basic survival activities (eg hunting, gathering, migrating, running / swimming / climbing from danger) to physically demanding farming and home management activities (horse-riding, fencing, digging, baking, washing) to a myriad of options we now have before us. We could, theoretically, choose any of the above activities, but now we also get to include walking / riding on specially constructed paths, swimming at the heated pool, gym programs, fitness classes, weight lifting, team sports, dance classes, adventure-based holidays, and the list goes on!

With so many options before us, we might seem spoiled for choice. There really is something for everyone whether you prefer to exercise in a group or alone, compete or engage in recreational pursuits, spend lots of money on the latest equipment / clothing / memberships or exercise at no or low cost. There are even more excuses for NOT exercising – more about that in a future blog!

So, how much exercise do we need?

The latest research was most recently packaged into the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines in 2014 and is still considered current. Basically the evidence shows that we need to focus on being more active and less sedentary. This means for adults:

  • doing any physical activity is better than none!
  • limit the time you sit down
  • break up periods of sitting down with standing / walking activities as often as possible
  • aim for 2 ½ – 5 hours of moderate intensity activity a week or 1 ¼ – 2 ½ hours of vigorous intensity exercise a week
  • be active on most or all days of the week
  • do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days a week

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines

Exercise vs activity – what are my choices?

Note that the guidelines refer to ‘activity’ rather than ‘exercise’! Consider how you can incorporate a greater amount of physical activity into your day. Here are some ideas to get your imagination and motivation going:

  • Go for a walk (footpath, park, beach, bush, in a large shopping centre)
  • Create your own treasure hunt activity to be completed over a few days or weeks (eg list natural or man-made objects you can seek whilst on your walk, maybe take a photo of each item as you go)
  • Join an adult learn-to-swim class or other skills-based program to build your confidence and increase your options for exercise
  • Run around with your kids after school in the park or back yard (it’s a great way to tire them out so they sleep better at night – same for you!)
  • Check if there are any walking groups in your neighbourhood or shopping centre
  • Take a daily stroll through your garden, along your street or in the park and really start to notice the colours and seasonal changes
  • Get up and stretch
  • Walk the dog or cat
  • Challenge yourself to complete a household or gardening task without the use of external power
  • If you enjoy combining technology with your exercise, try mapping out a walking or cycling path using a GPS or other mapping device, then get out there and follow it! For an extra challenge, take up the latest craze of mapping out a specific pattern to follow eg a star shape.If you have any concerns about your health and how this effects your capacity to be active, it’s very important that you talk to your GP or other health provider. So, no excuses now! Get up, get out there, and do something! Because something is better than nothing 🙂

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