When I’m feeling overwhelmed, this counterintuitive outdoor step helps (Outdoor Diary)

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episode 384

I do it to myself and over and over again. That feeling of overwhelm sneaks right in, and it’s entirely because of my own poor choices.

(You would think I’d learn my lesson, but I have not.)

So when the going gets crowded, what do I do? I think you’re probably going to guess. But the wild thing is just how much adding more of it to my schedule helps.

Listen now.


Some of the good stuff:

[00:23] Yeah, OK I do this to myself

[01:17] We know the signs — truly

[01:32] Maybe I could do this before

[02:25] This is the part where we come up with a solution

[02:43] When, in fact, the real solution is this one that doesn’t make any sense.

[03:33] The reason it helps? Priorities.

Connect with this episode:

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

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

I have a nasty habit of adding way, way too many things to my plate.

It’s not that I don’t understand the constraints of time and space. Ok, maybe it is that a little bit. But mostly I think what happens is that I have a week or a day where I don’t really have that much going on, so I think I have time to say “yes” to something new.

So I do. I say yes. And then I realize that have made a severe calculation mistake, and that the one blip on my time radar was in no way signaling or indicative of my future bandwidth.

Oops. We’re on our way to overwhelm city.

There are signs that I’m overwhelmed before I actually realize the situation. Some of them look like me snapping at my husband or kids. Some of them look like me being incapable of making future plans with friends or family. In those instances, I cannot fathom putting a one more single thing on my calendar now tomorrow or even three weeks from now. The future may be bright, but it also seems exhausting.

There was a time I could operate like this, I think. It’s how I created this bad habit to start with. Once upon a time, 22 year old Amy had no family or life requirements. She didnt sleep a minimum of seven hours every night, she worked multiple jobs, she got up early and then took an Arabic class at 8 p.m. AT NIGHT. For what it’s worth, Arabic did not go well.

Back to current me. I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. I am sure it is entirely my own fault.

I know that I have made this mistake before, and I will make this mistake again. But for now, I am scratching around for solutions to this feeling of impending doom and panic that sits on my chest when I realize I have 42 places to be at the exact same time.

When I feel overwhelmed like I do right now, I look back on what’s worked for me before because of course, yes, there is always a before. And every time I do that I realize how wild it is that the solution I’ve found to work the best is so counterintuitive that I don’t want to do it. But I’ve seen its effect. I know it is, in fact, the best path forward.

And it is this: take my 20 minutes outside, trash it completely, and go outside for 30 or 40 minutes instead. If I don’t have time to be outside, if things are so overwhelming that I can’t fathom fitting it in, fit more in than I think I ever could. And then do it again.

There’s a meme floating around the internet that makes this point and I couldnt find it while writing this episode, but I know it exists. And that means Im not the only who has experienced this.

Going outside for longer than I think I can reasonably go gives me the opportunity to take a deep breath, think about my choices and prioritize what it is I actually need and do not need do.

It gives me the space to think about the things I can say no to. It gives me the space to think about the things that I actually do want to say yes to. It gives me the things space to think about what’s important to me what I want and what I need.

By adding more outside time to my schedule, my day somehow expands to have room for the actually necessary. It feels like an outdoor miracle. But it’s actually just the benefits of taking a beat, leaving behind the frenzy and integrating the space of nature into the space of my life.

You can see photos of lots of happy outdoor time on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. The weather has been so, so perfect here as Alaska spring comes beautifully sweeping in for a few weeks before we hit summer. I promise I’m taking other adventures too, plotting great things for the season and enjoying every slice of sunshine. Share your photos with #humansoutside365 and until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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