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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
One of the reasons this time of year is so hard is ther we are facing an outside learning curve or perhaps re-learning curve. If you’ve only recently started an outdoor habit, the change in seasons means that it’s probably suddenly a whole lot less pleasant outside. Getting out there is uncomfortable because the weather is bad.
Then there’s clothing. If you’ve done all of this before and you’re like me, you have to re-learn what to wear. If you haven’t, if it’s your first time going out every day no matter what, you have to tackle that question for the first time.
And then there’s the forced hobby change. Maybe you really enjoyed running outside, but now it’s suddenly very snowy and cold and running is a whole lot harder. Is that the hobby you want to keep, or are you finding a new one?
Finally, there’s that sudden darkness. 6 p.m. now feels like midnight, and I’m having to plan my outdoor time much earlier in the day if I want it to happen in daylight. Gone are the days where I could put it off to 7 p.m. I mean I can still do that I guess, but since 7 p.m. is now basically midnight it’s a lot less fun.
A friend who recently started the Humans Outside 365 Challenge — heading outside for at least 20 minutes every day no matter the weather — messaged me recently to ask what I do outside when it’s really rainy and cold. She wondered whether sometimes, if the weather is particularly bad, do I just huddle on my porch?
Now, her question is obviously about tackling specific weather – rainy and cold – but I think the answer applies to all types of outdoor unpleasantness.
As I read her question I had a flashback to my first year or so doing this challenge. There were absolutely days I wanted to stand on my porch huddling against the wind, rain or cold and glaring at the elements like how DARE YOU SIR come here and make things hard. There was this one windstorm where I put on the jacket and huddled out of the wind, at least until my husband and kids convinced me to come out and play.
But since then I’ve learned that even when the weather is terrible, I’ve never actually regretted heading out into the elements. Twenty minutes isn’t long enough to be in any real danger from anything we’re likely to experience outside, so actual safety isn’t really a major concern. And that leaves us with simply having to push through the barrier of discomfort to find the good on the other side.
So what do I do when it’s cold and rainy or otherwise awful? I go out anyway. But I don’t do it without a little help from my two friends: good clothing and a plan.
First, good clothing. Let’s not minimize in any way that discomfort is in fact a very real barrier that does actually make us want to not go outside. Listening to the warning song of discomfort does not make us wussy or somehow less than. Mostly it makes us reasonable people.
But it’s also a barrier that can be overcome and the way to push through it is by using some decent gear. That means a warm jacket, a raincoat, an umbrella, rain pants, some dry shoes, gloves or whatever else makes you happy. These are tools in your arsenal, and if you want to overcome the gross bummer weather, you need to use them. Whatever weather you’re facing, there is a layer out there to help you address it. Hit up your thrift store or consignment shop for a great economical option. And then use the tool to move past the discomfort barrier.
Next, my buddy, Mr. Plan. Maybe this is just me getting over the mental barrier of facing weather I do not like — and please don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hate rain and going outside in it. And so I need to use a plan to decide what I’m going to do while I’m out there so I can move- – literally — through it. Where am I going to go on a walk? How am I going to push through? Once I have a plan, the weather seems overcomeable. And while sitting with a nice cup of coffee under your porch to listen to the rain actually does sound fabulous and i think you should do that some time, glaring at it just to run out the clock does not. That is not the vibe and it is not why we’re bothering with this challenge: You can see the difference between those two having a plan for your time out there. One has intention. The other is a lack of intention.
If you’re here in Alaska you may have recently encountered some lovely but challenging weather, especially if you have a driveway to shovel or ever feel the need to drive anywhere. But I think we should embrace it like a gift, so that’s what I’m trying to do.
You can see photos of how Ive been spending my time outside on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram, and Id love to see your photos too. Tag me with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.