I have recently been posting on my ‘Counselling and Psychotherapy in Durham’ Facebook page about the positive affects that nature can have on us. I feel fortunate to be located in Durham where there are numerous opportunities to connect with the natural world.
I keep discovering more and more research that seems to demonstrate that being outdoors is great for both our physical and psychological health. However, if you are feeling low, depressed or anxious it can be extremely difficult to get the motivation and the energy to regularly get out into nature. If you are wanting to get outdoors more then here are my top five tips:
Start by considering what it is you would like to gain from spending time outside. There are the obvious benefits such as physical and psychological health but there might other factors that could also be motivating for you. May be you would like to learn a new skill, make new friends, become fitter.
Discovering something that you will enjoy will make it far easier to sustain. If you are unsure of what you might enjoy then it might be a matter of trying a variety of different activities. Most clubs allow you to have a go at their activities before having to join. I have added a list at the end of this blog offering some ideas of activities that take place within the local area. It is also worth considering whether there was anything you enjoyed doing in the past that you no longer do? If so it might be a matter of reconnecting with that past interest or activity.
Don't over do it. It is much better to start off slowly and build up. Doing too much too soon could leave you feeling tired, in pain and feeling a sense of failure.
Set specific goals. You are more likely to succeed if you set yourself targets. You might want to include how often and for how long you will do the activity for. Try writing your goal down, as written goals are often more likely to be successful then if they remain in your mind alone. Although goals can be motivating, you need to ensure that if you did not meet them that you are not too hard on yourself. Reflect on what caused you to not meet your target. Was the goal too ambitious and needs reassessing? You could not motivate yourself that day? The weather was too bad? Rather than viewing missing your goal as being a failure it can actually be an important source of information that allows you to see what blocks your ability to get outside regularly. Once you have discovered the causes you can then work on finding how to over come them. It is okay to have a bad day or a few bad days. It does not mean that your plan has completely gone out of the window.
Be prepared. There is nothing worse than going outdoors on a wet and windy day and getting cold and drenched through or wearing clothes or shoes that rub and hurt. They key to enjoy what you are doing is to ensure that you are comfortable.
Involve other people. As well as it being a great way to meet new people, doing activities with others can also be very motivating.
Local Outdoor Activities
Here are some suggestions of local outdoor activities:
Volunteering for the Durham Wildlife Trust
Wild Yoga with Roy Moor
Elvet Striders Running Club (currently there is a waiting list to join)
Durham Harriers Running Club
Allotments in Durham
If you are going to embark on a new physically activity you should consult with your doctor first.