If I think back about my life there is one constant that has always been there: I LOVE to be outside.
Lately I’ve been trying to figure out why exactly that is. In childhood it was kind of a given that I spend a ton of time outside- we lived in rural areas and there was always lots of work to be done on our property. My brother and I would mow/rake grass, haul brush, weed the garden, chop firewood, etc. Outdoor time was just built into our lifestyle.
I always resented the yucky winter weather in Canada because it would prevent me from enjoying my outside time. I remember as a kid feeling anxious and antsy when rain kept me housebound for too long. Sometimes I would get frustrated and brave the elements, knowing full well I’d come back completely soaked (rain in western Canada is NO JOKE!). I’d take my dog for long, dreary walks that more for my benefit than for hers. She’d give me puppy dog eyes and then reluctantly follow me through the damp forest, knowing it would make me happy.
So why put myself through this?
Time alone in nature is great for self reflection
…I haven’t read it for a while, but I’m pretty sure this is what Siddhartha is about.
When I’m out on the trails by myself listening to the sounds of the wind in the trees or the surf breaking on the beach I find that my mind totally clears. Everything else in the world falls away and I can collect and organize my thoughts. If I’m stressed out about something I just go for a walk outside and I am able to find a reprieve from it. Any anxiety or insecurity that I have is gone and I am able to just focus on positivity- the beautiful sights, sounds and the sense of calm that this gives me.
Nature is invigorating
A good hike (or walk, run, canoe trip, etc) is so inspiring! Breathing fresh air and challenging myself physically (by challenge I literally mean moving my body) makes me feel SO good.
Finishing a hike gives me a sense of accomplishment that I sometimes need, just so I can feel productive that day. And there’s a rush of excitement that come with exploring a new area- wondering what’s just around the bend, or on the next block is a great motivator to keep moving! At the end of a hike I feel accomplished and strong, and hungry for another adventure.
The universe is humbling
Do you ever have those days where you just feel totally overwhelmed by your life? There are too many things that need to be done and not enough hours to ever do them all? I feel like that A LOT! My coping mechanism is to spend time outside.
Even just sitting the yard and looking at the ocean is enough to remind me that the world is so big and my problems are so small. I start thinking about how incredible the earth is, and how lucky I am to be able to experience it’s beauty and suddenly I start to feel like everything will be okay. Even if I never accomplish anything else in my life I’ll just be happy that I’ve been able to see so much spectacular scenery and nature.
So there it is. These are the reasons I “opt outside.” Nature is like free therapy- I can calibrate my mind, body and soul! I feel relaxed and simultaneously so inspired and invigorated by the outdoors. It’s such a great drug! And the best part is, this works on as big or as small a scale as you can imagine.
Sometimes my time outside is a walk around a city block taking in sights of down trodden grass on my way to buy groceries, and other times I’m climbing mountains or trekking through the forest. Any type of outdoor time is good in my book!
Why do you #optoutside?
I’m Janine, a Canadian-American expat based in Mexico. I feel strongly about living life on my own terms, which is why I left my 9 to 5 job to become a digital nomad and live abroad! Follow me for travel inspiration, stories about expat life, and the journey to becoming truly location independent!