How Life Outdoors Improved My Mental Health
I haven’t always been connected to the outdoors, in fact, there was a point in my life where I absolutely loathed being in nature. I hated leaving my house and being outdoors so much that I would lie about being sick to stay home. I even missed out on a trip to a Caribbean Island because I didn’t want to deal with the ocean and boats. Hard to believe that now I would practically jump at the chance to go to any remote island in the world. In reality, my hatred for the outdoors stemmed from something deeper within my own mental health that I wasn’t recognizing. Something that I didn’t recognize until I started seeing my own therapist when I was twelve. Within seeing her I came to the conclusion that I hated being vulnerable, and I never wanted to lose control of my situation. The outdoors was everything I feared, it was the unknown, it was vulnerability, it was something I couldn’t control. It was something I could never gain control of because it was mother nature, you can’t control her no matter how hard you try.
Inspiration Comes In Many Forms
I could tell you that after I came to this conclusion everything was clear and I became an avid outdoors woman. But that would be lying because, in fact, I hold myself up more, I watched movies day in and day out instead of facing my fears like some badass. I would always dream of doing something amazing like the people in those movies but I never acted on it. Until I saw one movie, that changed my life, now I know it sounds cliche and I won’t rant on about it but “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was something that I connected with. It’s a movie about what it was like to fear the unknown but stepping out of what you know despite your fears. It’s a movie that made me into who I am today, and if you are looking for a stepping stone into life outdoors or even a step into the unknown aspects of your life I can’t recommend this movie enough. It gave me a glimpse into what life was if you didn’t control it if you were vulnerable.
The First Step Is Always The Hardest
And that’s how my love with the outdoors started, it wasn’t a grand finale but a gradual climb. Walks with my dog every night, kayaking around the bay, and self-defense lessons for my birthday. Slowly but surely I started surrendering myself to the unknown, it then became camp on Catalina Island, a trip to Italy with school, and climbing to find an unknown waterfall in Oregon. Then my grand finale appeared in working with Leatherback Sea Turtles in Costa Rica, and horseback riding for a week in the Sierra mountains. It wasn’t easy, though what good has ever come out of being easy. There were many nights spent crying in a tent or getting frustrated with how many mosquito bites I had. So many nights in which I felt vulnerable, or out of control in what was to happen next. But I never once regretted those experiences, quite as much as I still regret not going to that Caribbean Island. I would not be the person I am today without the outdoors and the experiences I’ve had good and bad, I have fallen in love with life outdoors despite all my disagreements we’ve had in earlier years. My mental health has been improved with its methods of teaching me how to go with the flow of life. There is so much that the outdoors can teach us, and so much that we can learn, but the first step is stepping out of what we know. Whether it be big or small, it’s taking the step. With that, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes in starting the journey to improving your mental health in the outdoors.
“The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.”
― Robyn Davidson, Tracks