Outdoor Diary: Taking Time for Nurture When You’re Always in Nature

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Humans Outside episode 309

What happens when all of your tasks are outside but none of your nurturing? Can you lose sight of why you built an outdoor habit to start with? And how do you take a pause to reassess?

In seasons where tasks take us into the great outdoors, it’s easy to lose sight of why you want to be there, finding yourself just exhausted as always, but this time exhausted outside.

So what should you do? Listen now.

Some of the good stuff:

[:35] An unusual (for me) problem

[1:26] What happens when you’re outside for tasks not benefits?

[1:45] Sorta like chores but not really

[2:19] Why I’m thinking about this

[3:11] Where have you gone, oh recess?

Connect with this episode:

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

In the summer I encounter an unusual problem — well, unusual for me, anyway. I’m outside a lot, but don’t feel like I’ve taken the time to be outside. Or, at least, I don’t feel like I’ve taken the time to be outside the way I want to be.

When I started my 20 minute daily challenge, it was because I was having trouble making myself spend time outside each day for all of its benefits no matter the weather. I wanted to be someone who had a life built around prioritizing outdoor life.

As I got better at making that a part of my daily life, I started to experience the specific benefits of it. Maybe you’ve seen them for yourself. I felt happier. Heading outside provided a sigh of relief and a mood booster. I was more creative. I enjoyed how going out with my family made my relationships better because it gave us constructive time together. The list goes on.

But what happens when you’re just outside because the stuff you have to do is there. What happens when all that busyness, necessary tasks or, sometimes, life clutter that seeps in has you outside? You’ve checked the box on your daily time, because there you are in the place you said you’d go. But you haven’t felt the benefit of it because you were task oriented, distracted, working, whatever.

This problem is related to the challenge of heading outside daily for chores, and whether that is the outdoor time you’re looking for. But I’m not talking about chores, necessarily. I’m talking about distractions and stresses that can keep you from even feeling a breath of relief from being out there. Maybe they’re good distractions when considered one by one. Who doesn’t love an adventure? Or an outdoor event? Or taking your work outside to the picnic table for the day?

But if the entire thing becomes busy-focused, are we getting the nurture from nature we’re looking for?

I’m pondering this for myself after a busy two weeks with lots and LOTS of outdoor time that doesn’t have me feeling particularly restored, and I’m wondering if it’s because I really didn’t take a beat in there to just accept the aid and wholeness of being outside. For almost all of it I was working in some capacity. And sure, yes, absolutely working outside is far better than working inside as far as I’m concerned, but I’m also exhausted.

It was while confused about this level of tired that I started to think about all of this. I’ve had so much outside time, why am I feeling zapped? I’ve been doing the thing I lean on for all of its benefits like it’s my job.

And there you go. I never took the time to be there because it was somewhere I wanted and needed to be for me. I’m not talking about hours on end. I’m talking really about any time at all. When was the time I put aside the obligations and taskings to just sit and be and see and feel and breathe? Where was my at least 20 minutes of outdoor time that was, like Gretchen Rubin says, recess?


The answer to this problem is, of course, acknowledging that I feel something is missing and making myself take a beat to find the rest that I need. That doesn’t mean cutting off the things I’m doing outside that are work or task related. It just means remembering to be intentional in this season of outdoor busy to put away the work and take time to breathe.

It’s an important lesson I’m learning for me and I hope it helps you, too. You can see photos of my adventures on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram, and I want to see yours, too. Tag them #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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