Following a lot of Instagram accounts where their owners seemingly spend every moment outdoors in a different country, exploring and hiking and camping can be intimidating. I know I spend half my time staring longingly, and the other half wondering how on Earth other people manage it. They’re experts at all things adventuring, and I barely see the sun when I’m checking the mail sometimes. It’s the conundrum of social media – you’re comparing your entire life to the highlights they’re posting. But balancing your “everyday life” with your “outdoor life” is a lesson I’m learning everyday. So far it’s consisted of two exercises: prioritizing myself and knowing my relationship with nature is worth the effort, and two, finding ways to get me outside, even if it puts me outside my comfort zone.
First, I had to realize that, for me, being outdoors is centering. Prioritizing your relationship with yourself is prioritizing your mental and physical health, which puts you in a better place to tackle all the other things in your life vying for your attention. No matter what you think of when you think of being outdoors, don’t think of it as a luxury – think of it as a necessity for self-care. This change in mindset has allowed me to change how I approach my work, social and other obligations and found ways to incorporate being outdoors into those, rather than keeping them in their respective buckets.
Next, I’ve been finding ways to “opt outside”, even though it’s proven a huge challenge for me. I’ve also started changing my perception of what my idea of what “counts” for being outdoors. My “outdoor life” doesn’t have to match an REI website everyday. I love hiking but if I can’t go every weekend, it’s not the end of the world, because I’ve prioritized being outside throughout my week. For example, I’ve started riding my bike as often as possible. I’m not a strong biker (yet!) but forcing myself to bike to the store or the gym everyday has given me moments to spend enjoying the changing seasons, notice the trees are starting to bloom, and watch a sunset I would have otherwise missed had I taken my car. What’s great is I still got all my day-to-day tasks done, and I got to bask in some outside time. You don’t need to be a camping warrior or thru hiked a million miles to benefit from nature, but you can certainly start working towards being it, if that’s your goal!
To balance a life outdoors with a life that pays bills, makes dinner and remembers to get oil changes regularly isn’t easy. But what has helped is to not think of them as separate at all. Change your mindset to prioritize nature in your everyday life, and don’t compare your unique experiences to someone else’s, so you can prioritize your personal relationship with the outdoors. Finally, if you’re reading this, I would like to invite you to try just one thing this week that pushes you outside- get out and get creative!