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If you’re listening to this on our normal release day, Tuesday, you’re hearing this on Election Day for the U.S. If you’re listening to this after Election Day, you might have the good fortune of hearing this episode after the fate of so many public official positions have been decided. But as I record this that’s not yet the case — we don’t know who is going to win or how the aftermath is going to go.
But I can tell you this: no matter what side of the aisle you’re on or how this election has gone when you’re hearing this, you’re probably experiencing some extra amount of stress this week, or have recently felt it.
If you’re like me, you feel it in your shoulders and in a tightness in your chest. You think you’re fine until it’s so heavy that you feel like you’re imploding and you just can’t anymore.
It’s for moments like these that we have going outside — without our phones, without our devices, without an agenda. We go outside with a purpose: to breathe.
This week I hope that you head outside for calm and stress release. I’m not a certified outdoor therapist, but I can tell you what works for me.
First, I embrace intentionality. You hear me talk about heading outside every day for 20 minutes no matter what, and that starts with intentionality and focus, that getting out there is going to for sure happen no matter what.
On days of high stress or when the world seems to be too crazy for words, that intentionality helps center me and helps me stay focused on the things I can control, the things that matter to me and the things that are centered and consistent, like the trees, the birds and the cold, crisp air.
Next, I find outdoor activities that bring my calm or joy. I like to walk in the woods because it’s both easily accessible to me and predictable. I like to take my dogs and kids with me because the way they leap through the snow brings a smile to my face. These things give me a chance to breathe deeply and shed the worries around me.
I also love to find something empowering. When I go for a hike up a mountain, it’s because I know that the reward of getting to the top will make me feel like I can take on the world. Pick an outdoor activity that makes you feel strong, that makes you feel like it’s all worth it and that the world has nothing on you in that moment. I promise that feeling will stay with you.
Finally, build a habit around something that can function as a goal. Having an outdoor goal — whether that’s just heading outside every single day or it’s accomplishing a mileage distance or learning a new skill — can shift your focus to something that is within your control. The world might be crazy, by working on this goal is within your realm of influence. You’ve got this.
Over the past week I’ve been taking my own advice. I love my hot tub right now because while I’m recovering from my surgery, it is a safe space where I can head outside knowing I won’t accidentally hurt myself while I heal. I also love going for those short walks that I mentioned and seeing my kids love the outdoors. No matter what happens with this election or anything else in the world, the outdoors will be there for you. Lean on it.
As I head out into the woods these days I’m wearing some mittens my husband, Luke, recently bought my from Outdoor Research. I get crazy cold hands — you’ll hear more about that on this week’s full episode of the podcast on Episode 68 — and these mittens are key for keeping me warm and happy. It’s easier to be outside when you’re warm and happy. I’m calling those mittens my outdoor hero for this week.
Listen, the world is a stressful place. I don’t think that’s going to end anytime soon. But over on Instagram I post a picture every day of how I’ve spent my daily outdoor time tagged with #humansoutside365. I’d really love to see how you’re spending your outdoor time every day, so hop on there, post your picture, tag it and give me a follow
Until next time, we’ll see you out there.