Why 10 Minutes of Focus Can Help You Keep an Outdoor Habit (Christina Dunbar)

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You know that intentionality is the foundation of keeping any habit, challenging or not. But maybe we’re overthinking this whole thing. What if there was a way to not only make and keep the outdoor, nature-focused habit you want to create, but also give better focus to your entire day? And what if it was only a matter of setting aside 10 minutes?

That’s the theory that drives the work of today’s guest, Christina Dunbar. Her program, Intentional Ten, works with clients (and a focus on busy moms) to give them the framework to drive focus and success all day long. And guess what? Heading outside is a vital part of that.

In this episode Christina walks us through the simple but powerful Intentional Ten framework while handing us tools for making, keeping or reenergizing a daily nature habit.

Some of the good stuff:

[3:37] Christina Dunbar’s favorite outdoor space

[4:33] How Christina became a person who goes outside

[10:38] Is there a moment where things changed?

[15:35] What is the Intentional 10 method?

[22:49] Why 10 minutes?

[27:01] What are the reasons people struggle to make this happen?

[29:06] Specific steps for creating a habit

[35:36] What role does nature play?

[40:33] How to create daily mindfulness

[45:04] Christina’s favorite and most essential outdoor gear

[47:29] Christna’s favorite outdoor moment

Connect with this episode:

Register for our newsletter to win a decal: https://humansoutside.com/newsletter

Follow us on Instagram and share your outdoor life with the hashtag #humansoutside365.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast.

Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Amy Bushatz 0:06

If you’ve been around Humans Outside at all, you might have caught on to the fact that I love the concept of intentionality. It’s the idea of purposefully focusing on something and doing it that allows me to have a habit of spending at least 20 minutes outside in nature every single day for my well over 1400 days in a row. If I wasn’t intentional about it, I would never, ever, ever find the time to make it happen in my busy schedule. If you’ve listened to episode five of season four, you heard from Karla Amador about her effort to hike once a week and how it turned into the 52 Hike Challenge, encouraging other people to hike. She talked about the how tos of building and keeping a habit. Today’s guest, Christina Dunbar, has also made a public effort around building a habit and helping others do the same. While Karla focused on a weekly event, Christina is focused on a daily practice, not so very unlike my daily practice of heading outside. In an attempt to recover from a stress-induced illness, she decided to change how she was living her life from harried to, well, intentional. Today she helps busy people, with a focus on moms. And she helps them slow down and build mindfulness and a wellness habit. And she’s going to talk about how we can build that mindfulness and what heading outside has to do with it. Christina, welcome to Humans Outside.

Christina Dunbar 2:19

Thank you for having me, Amy. I’m so excited that after all this time we’re finally connecting.

AB 2:24

I know! Because everyone doesn’t know that we stalk each other and talk to each other on Instagram, I’ve been a follower for I have no idea how long and just love, love what you’re doing.

CD 2:37

Yeah, I think actually, it was you who had made a post on a Facebook group that we are both in for podcast hosts. And you said something about, you know, my whole thing is that I go outside daily. And I was like –Oh my gosh, Amy! I wasn’t recording the time, so I wasn’t ready for a podcast guest. But like, I wanted to follow you because this is totally in line with what I talked about.

AB 3:05

So great. And of course, I haven’t been doing this that long. So I’m sure we intersected at the beginning of my podcast journey as well. And just like love connecting in, you know, as close to in real life with Instagram friends as I can. And you know, fellow outside practicers, if that’s the thing, so just stoked to have you here. So we start our episodes imagining ourselves in our guest’s favorite outdoor space, like as if we were just hanging out having a chat somewhere you’d love. So describe like, where are we with you today?

CD 3:37

So I think that if I could pick my number one spot, we would go to the beach. And specifically, I would choose the northern shore of Wrightsville Beach here in North Carolina. It’s a nice wide open spot of the beach. And the sand goes way out before there’s any buildings or anything and so you can really feel like you’re just in nature. There’s nothing around you and so we’re just hanging out with the ocean breeze next to us.

AB 4:14

I love an ocean breeze and I don’t get a lot of that here in Alaska. So walk us through your journey. How did you get to a place where you realized you needed to focus on mindfulness and intentionality? And how does that mindfulness bring you to a place of getting outside?

CD 4:33

I’m a wellness practitioner in my professional life. I’m a family nurse practitioner, I’m a yoga teacher, I own a yoga business as sort of a side hustle, if you will. And so I’m very familiar with, you know, habits of healthy living. However, you know, as a mom of three—at one point we had three kids under the age of two. We’re both working full time jobs and juggling a lot, and you just get sort of swept up in the busyness of life. And so I wasn’t, you know, using the tools that I knew. I wasn’t using them in my own life. And things were just really stressful and chaotic. I wasn’t taking care of myself. And then I went through this really big stress-induced illness, which was this huge wake up call that I was actually sick, because of my lack of taking care of myself and the fact that I let our lives and our schedules overrun us, or overrun me. And that was really my wake up call as to, you know, I’ve got to figure out a way to change, change my lifestyle. I had been saying to my husband for years — I wish that we could slow down. I just didn’t know how. And so you know, it sort of spiraled from this illness. I took a month off of work to physically recover. And during that time, a friend had sent me a little journal thing from Amazon, just these cheap little journals, sent them to me and said — I hope this is helpful. And so I started journaling daily. That was the starting point for me of how little by little, I started doing this each day and began to figure out, you know, what was going on in my life that I could fix, what was going on in my life that was good that I needed to keep. What could I improve? What were the things that were holding me back that I needed to get rid of? And after doing this, you know, over and over again, the outdoors became a big piece of it, that I realized, you know, maybe I would write in my journal, like yesterday, you know, the kids and I went for a walk. And it was this really great day, because we spent time outside or whatever. And we began to associate outdoor time with good days. And so I am not an outdoorsy person, sort of by nature. I’m just, I don’t know, I kind of grew up as a girly girl, and I didn’t like camping, and I did like being outside or hot or sticky. You know, I just always wanted to be inside. And I started to realize that outdoor time actually brought us a lot more peace, and the kids were happier. And so my husband and I were happier. And it all just sort of you know, rippled from there.

AB 7:26

Wow, do I resonate with that? You know, it’s funny, like it takes sort of like the dramatic moments for us to go outside and realize the answers there all along. Right, you know, like, we turn to all of these other things as answers and solutions to our problems, when we have this thing, like literally outside the door that could solve this for us and makes us feel good. The other thing that you said, you know, like you it worked, so you wanted more. Like, it’s amazing how that goes, you know, it changes the story that you’re telling yourself about yourself. So I did an interview with my friend Holly about my own time outside, and she asked me about the stories that I tell myself about who I am. And I said exactly what you just said, which is like — I’m not outdoorsy. Well, I mean, I think we can go ahead and say like I am outdoorsy now. Well, I mean, like you spend enough time outside, what’s the tipping point, okay, that you’re like “outdoorsy” now or not outdoorsy? I would say anyone who spends that time outside is in fact, outdoorsy, the end. So if you’re outside, you’re outdoorsy.

CD 8:46

I heard people talking about that with running once upon a time. I am not a tiny person. I’m 5’ 6” and I’m 130 pounds. And so because I wasn’t that like, you know, skinny runner that maybe you see like on TV running the New York City Marathon, I would never call myself a runner because I couldn’t go out and do you know, like, really long distances. And when I used to run a lot more than I do now, people would be like — um, if you’re running a couple times a week, you’re a runner, like, it doesn’t matter if you’re running a 12 minute mile, like, you’re still a runner. And I have never thought about that with the outdoor piece until you just said that about being outdoorsy.

AB 9:28

So I think we can go ahead and call you out. We’ve just made that decision. We’ll call ourselves outdoorsy. Excellent, excellent. And we’re changing how we talk about ourselves. I like it. So much progress in this one episode. Okay, so you noted that you do not consider yourself outdoorsy, but now you are. So can you walk us through a little bit more about that journey, was there like a moment where you realize that this is something that you like to do maybe like, a special or specific rather, event or specific outing? I’ll give you an example of what I’m asking. I have this memory of watching my husband stake our tent. You know, just like walking around the ginormous tent, you know, hammering in stakes. And I realize like — Hey, I like this, I’m about to like sleep in the bushes over here. And that is like, not how I thought about myself before. But this is great. Was there a moment like that for you?

CD 10:38

Oh, maybe not one specific moment. But it did evolve, I think through my yoga practice. So our yoga business is called Charlotte Pop Up Yoga. And so it’s pop up yoga classes here in Charlotte, around the area. And so we just do them, you know, at random places outside. And so there have been a number of moments over the years where I’m practicing outside. So most of my yoga practice these days is honestly outside unless it’s at home in the morning. And, you know, there’s certain poses, I don’t know if you practice yoga, but there’s there’s certain poses where you find yourself twisting and looking up to the sky, or maybe when you’re laying on your back at the end and Shavasana and, you know, you look up and you hear either birds or whatever around you feel a breeze, you look at the clouds, things that you never really stop and do on a daily basis. And those are moments where I’m like — Yes, like being connected with all of this is doing it for me. I’m finding joy in these moments. Now that we are sitting here at the beach, Amy, the breeze, when it comes about—I think that’s why I love the ocean so much is like the reminder to frickin breathe. I know a lot of other people who are busy and anxious, like myself, we get so worked up. And then we actually take these tiny little shallow breaths, and we forget to breathe fully and deeply. And so we’re like, constantly running around in this, you know, fight or flight mode. And so when we are, at least for me, when I stop and I connect with nature, that’s when it’s like that reminder.

AB 12:33

Okay, so when you said when we forget to breathe, I absolutely was like — Oh, I should breathe right now. I can’t imagine that somebody else listening to this did not do the same thing. Like — Oh, yes, that was a great time for deep breath. Let’s do that. But man, I notice that when I’m just walking around the woods, especially in the wintertime, I tend to do my outdoor time in a nature area. It’s actually a high school cross country course behind my house. And I was recently clued into the fact that most places don’t have cross country courses like this. It’s really like a nature trail. And that many high schools and many other places do their cross country on golf courses and whatnot. That’s not what we do here. High schools have like actual trail systems. I never knew that. I was homeschooled, so I didn’t go to high school, and I don’t have the context for that—homeschool problems. But we’ve got these nature trails, okay, so just imagine, like a nature trail area. And I go back there in the wintertime because it’s convenient. And it’s also got a lot of trees. So it provides a windbreak and when I’m there, because I’m not going out for a big adventure, I’m literally putting on my stuff walking out my house going back there. And I noticed that breath moment, I noticed that within five or 10 minutes of being out there I am unintentionally taking this deep breath and just breathing and then letting it out in a way that I don’t do when I’m in my daily habits inside. It’s like this release.

CD 14:24

Breathing feels good. So I don’t necessarily have the exact moment that I remember that I connected with outdoors. But I do have the exact moment in my mind where I realized that like, breathing feels good. And half the time that I feel like crap, I’m stressed and anxious, it’s like not frickin breathing. And so I remember this moment in our old house. We used to live in Raleigh, and I was sitting on the couch. I’d come home from a really long day at work at the hospital and I sat down on the couch and like took a big breath and was like — Oh, that feels nice! And that was like, really what sort of woke me up to this journey of like — Hey, I should try to do more yoga and meditation.

AB 15:09 I understand that. Okay, so walk us through the Intentional 10 Method because I’m not even sure we already said this is the name of your Instagram and it is what you do, it is the program that you give to people through your small business. So walk us through—what is Intentional 10? What is the method?

CD 15:35

Yeah, so Intentional 10 is really the foundation of building an intentional lifestyle. It is the method that I teach other people when they want to start making lifestyle changes, but it’s ultimately that key or that ticket to figuring out on your own, how to simplify your days, how to prioritize your wellness. And it’s an individualized plan, because you’re the one doing this for yourself. So I’ve created this breakdown of t-e-n to help kind of remember, essentially what it is. But the T is timeout. So essentially, for, you know, you mentioned that my thing is daily. So you’re going to take a daily timeout, at just 10 minutes, no less and no more, to focus on yourself. Most of us have really busy lives and schedules and it’s hard to make time for ourselves. So that 10 minutes is usually manageable for everyone. And I highly recommend that people do it first thing in the morning, whether you wake up at 4or 5am, or whether you wake up at 9 or 10am. The first thing that you do is take this these 10 minutes, and it’s a timeout that’s protected in your home, that everybody knows, like — hey, mom’s gonna do this; or your partner or spouse know, like, hey, you’re gonna take this time and make it a priority each day. Then the E is engaging with the Gs. So there’s three things that you engage with, or you focus on when you sit down and take those 10 minutes. So the first is the gut feelings. And that’s essentially that time to kind of figure out what’s going on in your head that maybe throughout the day, because you’re so busy, you’re not actually paying attention to. So for me, I tend to have a lot of anxiety. So that’s figuring out a lot of those little moments like hey, I woke up feeling anxious today, because we’ve got X, Y or Z going on. Or maybe like today, I woke up excited, like I got a podcast chat with Amy today. Like that’s something that brings me joy, connecting with people and doing interviews. Just sort of realizing the things going on in your life and how they make you feel. Then the next G is gratitudes. And so I talked about this on the podcast. Every day, I recommend that people take just a few seconds for gratitude practice. And so I incorporate that into my 10 minutes. I list three gratitudes out every day. And that’s going to again, help you sort of hone in on the things that are happening around you that maybe you’re not actually paying attention to because you’re so busy. So you know, finding gratitude for you know, shoot, the internet and Squadcast that can connect you and I from you know, from North Carolina to Alaska today, or finding gratitude for my husband who he and I have been working really hard to plan this deck that’s being built over at our house. And he you know, did a lot of the financial and logistical planning of it. So these little moments of gratitude, you know, help you find some positive mood and help shift the mindset. And then the next G is your goals. So figuring out, you know, what is it that you want for your day is your goal to have, you know, fun, maybe it’s a weekend and you want to make sure you’re having fun and you’re relaxing, or is your goal to be super productive or whatever, so that when you actually plan your day, your action items, your steps, they’re actually aligned with your goals. So you know, if my goal today is to have fun, but then I spend the whole day doing chores, if that’s not fun for me, then I haven’t had a successful day and am not happy at the end. So that’s the E, that engaging with the G’s, and then the N in the t-e-n is for next steps. And so each day when you’re taking the 10 minutes, I tell people to then take all those things that you’ve just quickly jotted down and figure out how you’re going to make that happen with time blocking. So, you know, we can often have these lofty goals of I want to do X, Y and Z but then when it comes down to it, how are we actually going to fit those in so figuring out okay, from, you know, 9 to 10, I’m going to be doing this; from 11 to 12, I’m going to be doing that. I really wanted to get a walk in today, or maybe I had my 20 minutes of outdoor time that I wanted to get in today. Where am I actually going to fit that in so that the day doesn’t go by, you’re crawling into bed, and you’re like — crap, I didn’t do that. So that’s the t-e-n. It sounds long, the way I just described it all out. But you can do all of that in just 10 minutes. And if you do that on a regular basis, over time, you’re going to figure out what it is you want to do with your life, the intentions that you have for yourself, and how to actually make them happen.

AB 20:41

Yeah. I think that a lot of people probably do pieces of that. So like, I make a list every day, okay, of what I need to do, but I don’t always time block it. Or I have in the past had a habit of gratitude. But I wasn’t making my list at that point, right? So this really what you’re saying is really a daily practice of rolling into your morning, in a very small amount of time, things that can really change how you spend your day, and how you feel about how you’re spending your day.

CD 21:18

Absolutely. And you’re right, that a lot of us are doing those little things. But it’s not making the difference that you want necessarily. It’s just like, if you are trying to lose weight, and you know, all you’re doing is exercising, but you’re not, you’re changing how you eat, and you eat a ton of junk food, like maybe you know, you’re not seeing the results that you want. Same concept, but like you have to sort of hit all these different points if you actually want to change your lifestyle. And, you know, make sure that you’re really living a life that’s aligned with the goals that you have for yourself.

AB 22:01

Okay, so you explained the acronym and we talked about how it’s only 10 minutes. Is five minutes simply not long enough? And is 15 too long? Like is there another reason that 10 is the perfect amount of time?

CD 22:49

So I personally found that 10 was the sweet spot. I’m not gonna lie, it also just happens to work out great that like, there’s a little bit of this like somewhat of an alliteration with Intentional 10. Yes, going over 10 minutes, at least in the beginning of starting this practice was too long. Initially I did this solo, and this was something that I would go off and do on my own, especially because the kids are little, you know, then it was like I was leaving my husband to be on, you know, kid duty in the morning, while I was going off and doing my own thing, then it started to like creep into that time. And personally, I find that like five minutes is just not enough for all of my thoughts and time blocking. But, you know, at the same time, if for some reason 10 doesn’t work for you, just like 20 usually doesn’t work for me when I do things like going outside, I usually do them in 10 minute increments, like find a time that does work for you, like you can adapt to whatever works for your life. I think that’s the most important thing, is that you have to figure out what works for you. But yeah, 10 is sort of that like, sweet spot that I have.

AB 24:06

No, I totally resonate with that. Because one of the reasons I picked 20 minutes for my outdoor time is that, well, it was conveniently backed up by science that, you know, that said that 20 minutes outside is really a sort of ideal amount of time to find benefits from being outside. But really, I thought 20 minutes is an amount of time that’s going to be a challenge for me that I can also actually do. It was that sweet spot where I realized that it wasn’t going to be more than I thought I could fit into my day when I was really really busy. But it also seems like enough time to make the practice actually worth it when you had to find all of your jackets and source a bajillion mittens. Getting outside was hard because the weather was bad. Did I really want to spend all this time getting dressed to go outside only to stand there for five minutes? Sounds like no. And I knew that, especially in the beginning that I would do the exact amount of time that I had made. Right? Like, let’s go inside. I was not going to do 21 minutes if I said 20, especially on cold days. And that’s no longer true, I’m happy to say, I’ve grown into actually enjoying these times. But when you start a habit, right, like you want to have a goal, and you kind of want to have those guardrails. And that’s why I picked 20. So, you know, I just really resonate with you saying, like, 10 minutes just worked. So that’s what we do.

CD 25:45

Yeah, right. I do think it’s really important that we look at wellness and mindful habits in really actionable ways. So you know, we talk about smart goals at work, like, we need to talk about smart goals in our personal lives, you know, like, they have to be attainable things. And a lot of times people are—this is where I struggled years ago, is that I used to think that like if I wanted to take care of myself, well, that required, you know, having an hour and a half to go to a yoga studio and take a yoga class to slow down and take a few deep breaths. And since I didn’t have an hour and a half, then it just wasn’t happening. No, you don’t have to have that amount of time to slow down and take a few deep breaths to take care of yourself. So you know, then once I started journaling 10 minutes a day, then I started looking at other things like that. So hey, if I wanted to go for a run, but I didn’t have a lot of time, like, what’s wrong with just going for a 10 minute out and back? Like, okay, yeah, it’s not as long as I used to run before I had kids, but like, it’s still running, and it still gets my heart rate up. And if that’s all I can do today, like that’s a win. So I started doing other things in small increments, too.

AB 27:01

Yeah, yeah. So, um, okay, so I am really good at going outside for a day, but I am really bad at taking 10 minutes to be mindful. And what you described earlier, I mentioned I do pieces of that I have tried to do it all in the past. And it’s like, it just falls, the habit falls off, you know, or I’ve tried to do portions of what you mentioned, you know, as at my own daily practice, and one day I forget, and that’s it. That’s why I have continually fallen off this train. What are some common reasons other people give for struggling with making this a habit?

CD 27:47

Yeah, I mean, I think you’re right, that this happens to a lot of people. One is, you get busy and forget that people often feel lost or not sure where to start. I mean, that was me years ago. And I just remember always saying to my husband that I wanted to slow down, I just didn’t really know how, and so maybe you maybe you listen to this, but you still don’t feel like you know how to implement it. So that’s another thing that people struggle with is just why we offer, you know, challenges and programs and things to help walk people through it and encourage and remind them how to do it. And then the third piece is that people struggle with thinking that they don’t have time. And so that’s why we try to break it down into really, really small segments. You had mentioned earlier in our conversation that, you know, initially you’re kind of forcing yourself to go outside and then over time, you begin to enjoy it. So you wanted to do it. And that’s really why I try to, you know, encourage people through challenges and things, if we do we sit down and we’re all going to do this together for a week, where we’re going to sit down and journal each morning for 10 minutes, by the end of that, you’re going to start to feel better, and you’re going to enjoy the benefits of what you’ve learned and that week, and you’re going to want to keep doing it. It’s not going to feel like it’s something that I have to figure out how to fit in or I’m going to try to remember how to do. It’s something you’re just gonna want to wake up and do because it’s life changing.

AB 29:26

So you mentioned challenge groups, you mentioned taking these habits. Can you give us like specific steps for creating this habit for overcoming those problems?

CD 29:39

I start with a blank piece of paper now, but in the beginning, I think it’s really important for people who are getting started, I think it’s really nice to have a guide so that you know what to do, you’re not just like, staring at a blank piece of paper. So I have guided journals that kind of walk you through these things on my website that are just free little guides that kind of help you figure out where to start. Or if you want to buy a journal off of Amazon that has little prompts and inspirations, like something like that, that will guide you, that is a really good way to start. So you don’t sit down to a blank piece of paper and think, what do I do? I mean, you can even set an alert or a calendar reminder. I mean, we used to get up at like, 4:30 in the morning to do this when the babies were little, to be able to do it before the kids got up and have that sort of protected, quiet time. And then I often tell people to, you know, with that timeout, like, make it a thing that everyone in your household knows about. So they’re kind of holding you accountable. And they’re also helping you to protect that 10 minutes, you know, let everybody know — hey, this week, from 5 to 5:10, or from 7 to 7:10, or whatever time you get up, like, I’m going to be sitting with my cup of coffee in my bedroom or wherever. And I just need that 10 minutes protected. One of the important things that we’ve done over time is that my husband and I actually now do this together. And so when we finish our journaling, we swap and I read his and he reads mine. And we have an idea of sort of the priorities for each person’s day. And he often wants to get in a workout, I often want to get in a walk or do yoga. And so we’re helping each other figure out how to fit that into our schedule. So the same thing, like your partner, or whomever you live with can help you find ways to put it into your schedule, if you’re communicating that with them. So have help. I mean that’s kind of a big part of it, whether that’s someone in your home or someone like me, I mean, I’ve got the podcast as a guide as well, that you can literally just hit play, but the episodes are 10 minutes long. And you’re going to have some sort of guide for you. Whether it’s that or joining one of my challenges, I really believe that people who are successful and living their best lives have a village of support, whether that’s a physical person in their house to help them, or outsourcing chores, or just having like a cheering squad, right, who will support you along your journey? Don’t think of your wellness as like a solo thing.

AB 32:45

Yeah, there is the other side of health, right? Like, it looks like health, but it’s actually somebody’s checking on you. That is, in fact, why I started when I first started my 20 minutes outside, I did my daily photo with it, which is something I still do today. But at the time, it was an accountability piece for me. And I also wanted to remember what I was doing. And I knew that I would forget to journal or I wouldn’t have the time or by the time I got to journaling after I rushed back inside late for something, you know, like, it just wouldn’t be what I wanted it to be. And so that daily photo, and then taking the time to caption it and post it at the end of the day was my way of journaling what I did outside every day, and then it was a way of creating that accountability to make it happen, especially in the beginning. And you know, like I would be 100% lying to you if I said that I do not do things just because it’s a good photo, sometimes. Here’s the thing, right? Like, I could go outside every single day to that nature path behind my house. That’s it every day, 20 minutes, wham, bam, done, okay. Or, I could make the effort to do something more interesting or better for me or longer or farther away, or new or hard. Whatever. Right? And in my head when I choose to do that, I think a little bit like that’s going to be a better picture. You know, this is going to be a better experience. It’s going to be something I’m going to be proud that I did to share with people, you know, so there’s that still that accountability there. We joke you know, you did it for the gram. But really like sometimes when I’m feeling extra lazy, or I’m tired, or it’s hard because it’s dark outside in the winter, it can be really hard. That is inspiring to me that helps me get out and do it. I think it’s easy to use social media as a way to compare yourself to others. And it’s easy to not to use it as a way to not be authentic. But I also think that having a village on there, where you are accountable to what you’re putting up can be an inspiration, that’s a good thing. Absolutely.

CD 35:11

Yeah. And you’re right. And that’s exactly what you’re doing. Because when I see your pictures, especially in the wintertime, because that’s when I really have a hard time. Remember, I’m in North Carolina, where we haven’t seen snow in two years. But like the idea of like, getting up, and getting outside is so like—but when I see that you’re making the effort. I’m like, we can do this too.

AB 35:36

Mission accomplished. Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about heading outside. And that’s my focus of intentionality: to create that space to do that. Talk to me about what role heading into nature has with creating space for an Intentional 10? How do you like to integrate your outdoor time if you do it? And how do you recommend other people use nature that either helps them with heading outside or, you know, maybe use heading outside to help them with Intentional 10?

CD 36:14

Figuring out what was going on in our lives was what helped me realize that outdoor time was good for us. So I think part of it is finding that on your own in whatever way it is, so maybe it’s going for walks, maybe it’s just sitting outside in a hammock or something. Maybe you only like to be outside if you’re doing something intentionally active or a game or something like that, I don’t know. So figuring out, you know, whatever it is that sort of suits you. But then I think in reverse, you can use the outdoors as part of your mindfulness, because you don’t necessarily need any kind of guide, you can just go sit anywhere, it can be, you know, in a busy public park, where there’s a lot of traffic, it could be in the woods, where there’s no one around, but all you have to do is sort of just listen, you know, maybe close your eyes, as long as you’re not walking, like or running like you were joking earlier. You know, close your eyes and just tune in to what’s around you, if it’s fast cars, if it’s birds chirping, if it’s a breeze, and just really pay attention to the space that you’re in, and the exact moment that you’re in. Even if you did that for 30 seconds, like that alone is a mindfulness practice. That is mindfulness meditation. And so if you can do that, and just like little chunks here and there, it’ll help you, you know, cope with anxiety, it’ll help as a coping mechanism for depression. It’ll literally help you to slow down your heart rate your blood pressure in that moment, and it can reduce cortisol levels if you do it for a little bit longer. So I mean, you can be having lots of health benefits just from like literally going outside and just like sitting down for a few seconds.

AB 38:15

Hmm, yeah. Boy, do I feel that. Sometimes you just have to peel yourself out of your busyness and take a second.

CD 38:25

That alone is hard to do, which is why I often recommend people to start small because we are so busy, that when we do peel ourselves away, that silence can feel painful. And you have to sort of like work your way up, just like you would sort of build up your stamina with running long distances, you just sort of build up your stamina for slowing down because we’re all so used to being overly stimulated from our phones to our emails to our text or laptops to you know, just everything being gogogo we have to like, on train that in a way.

AB 39:02

I have never thought about it that way—build up your stamina for stopping. It’s such a juxtaposition in my mind. Because we think about stamina as being associated with speed or doing something hard or like going hard, increasing your heart rate, not with slowing it all down and taking that pause. And so it’s contradictory images in my mind. But it’s such a perfect description because that’s exactly what you’re doing. Like you’re building up your ability to stop.

CD 39:46

Which is really hard for most people these days. And I think that’s that’s honestly where a lot of people get tripped up, maybe they try to learn to meditate or they try to take a break from work or whatever, but their mind races the whole time, or they feel like they should be doing something else or just feels really uncomfortable to be in the silence. And so they’re like — this sucks. And they stop.

AB 40:11

Yeah. So yeah, always start small. Yeah. Love it. Okay, so can you give us three or four super practical tips like, like we’ve been talking about them all along, but like, let’s get really granular. Let’s give people something to take away right now, about creating space for daily mindfulness inside or outside.

CD 40:33

I just said it, but like, truly start small. So whatever you commit to, commit to something that’s actually feasible for you. And if that’s five minutes, then do five minutes a day. And maybe you just do it for a week, you know, you don’t necessarily have to say, I’m going to do this forever. But start small. Like I said, I’ve always recommended the 10 minutes, but find something really simple, tangible that you can do. And do that daily for a short period of time and just see how it feels. Use that to sort of align with your intentions. That’s, again, where I recommend the journaling thing for 10 minutes a day, maybe just do that for a week. So that’s number one is to just start really small and like just make it happen. Two is, and this kind of goes back to what I just said, but you have to figure out what your goals even are for yourself. And so maybe you just take a day off of work, or maybe you take a Saturday and you go sit somewhere by yourself and figure out what you want for yourself, like what are the important things that you want in your life. And then you can start doing more of those things. If you want more outdoor time or you want to slow down or if you want to, maybe you’re trying to grow your career or whatever, like, then you can be more mindful and whatever you’re doing, to get yourself to whatever those goals are. And then and the third thing that I would say, if you’re looking for actionable tips to be more mindful is to figure out what tools you need to get you there. So if it’s going outside, for example, one of the things that we found was successful for us was figuring out the right gear to frickin be outside. Like, if it’s wintertime, and I want to be outside more, because that really helps my kids to just get the energy out and have more fun, then we need the right winter gear for us to do that. If you want to walk more, like get some walking shoes or whatever, like set yourself up for whatever it is that you want to do more of. And just have the tools that you need, or find the tools that you need, so that you’re set up for success.

AB 42:55

I think people think it has to be really expensive to do that to get those tools. I would say again, start small, right? So look at what you need as you need it. Talk to other people who are doing the same thing. Hit up resale shops and thrift shops and consignment shops, you know, and get what you need that way slowly over time as you as you realize, and as you create that habit, because it’s a lot to say to someone like — Well, you know, you need a big jacket, get a big jacket. And I never want to sit in my own privilege and say — Well, I have the resources to do that. So I’m just going to go do it without acknowledging, like, doesn’t work that way for some people. And it’s hard.

CD 43:42

That’s a really great point. It doesn’t necessarily require a lot of stuff, per se. It might just be like — Okay, well, if you want to go out on a cold day, like, then layer up and put on four shirts. Set yourself up for success. Don’t try to go out in a T-shirt and freeze and then come back in. Set up yourself for what you want to do so that you can be successful. And just putting a little bit of thought into it, a little bit of intention into it.

AB 44:17

Yeah, such a good point. Oh, my goodness, I love talking to you, Christina. I have enjoyed this conversation so very much. I’m hoping that we can close out our episode with the things we talk about at the end of these episodes. So speaking of gear, you know, you live in a place that’s not as cold as where I am. So your favorite and most essential outdoor gear is going to be different than mine. But I can’t wait to hear about it. I have, as a side note, found some of my most favorite things, very simple things, but perfect for me, through asking this question to guests. So I love these questions. Talk to us. What is your most essential, and then your favorite outdoor gear items?

CD 45:04

I would say that my favorite is actually my Hydro Flask. have this weird cup obsession. I really like cups and mugs and things like that. So Hydro Flask makes these really cute water bottles and it keeps it nice and cold. I’ve probably got way too many Hydro Flasks, but I’ve got this really nice 40 ounce Hydro Flask and it’s got this little bag. I can throw it over my shoulder, because it’s pretty heavy when we’re going for a walk. It’s like a crossbody thing. So that’s my favorite, love, love my Hydro Flask. And then as a mom, I would say my most essential, my crossbody bag, because we literally can’t go anywhere without, like, Band Aids, sunscreen, extra snacks, like we every time we leave the house, I have to have some sort of bag on me. So I love a crossbody bag just so that I can, you know, run around and keep up with them, but also have all of the essentials strapped onto my chest at all times.

AB 46:16

Yeah. So are we the same person because, I wouldn’t call this my absolute most favorite things. I have different choices for those categories. Those are both things that I use every day. Maybe my most essential is my water bottle. It’s like my security blanket. And I too have a 40 ounce Hydro Flask. It is dented and covered in stickers. And I do not carry it in a crossbody bag. I haul it around like a dope. And then I use a kaboo bag. So there you go. Crossbody bag is where it’s at guys. It’s like the fanny pack for your shoulders.

All right. So finally, last but not least, walk us out of here with your favorite outdoor moment. Close your eyes. Where do you go when you do that your favorite outdoor moment ever? And take us there, if you will.

CD 47:29

Well, I might be biased because right now we are in the process of building an outdoor covered deck, so we can recreate this moment. But when we were first young and engaged, my husband and I used to sit out on this covered balcony at my tiny little creepy old apartment in downtown Charlotte and sit out whenever it would rain. And we would just sort of like people watch. And I loved being outside in the rain. And so I just always remember that little old apartment and enjoying being outside when it was raining, but we were covered. 10 years later, we’re in the process of building one on our house to recreate those kinds of moments where we can sit outside in the rain. I love hearing the sound of rain and being around it and covered. Yeah. So that’s it for me. I love that.

AB 48:21

I think that if you are actually doing home construction based off of a favorite outdoor moment, it’s a good one and you should keep it. Christina, thank you so much for joining us today on Humans Outside. Oh boy, do I appreciate you.

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