It’s not even worth the argument – it is healthier for you in every way to spend more time being active and being outside. Don’t believe me? Then go here, or here, or here, or here. Or here. But when our lives are so busy, complicated, and full of responsibility, how can we even find the time to get outside?
A lot of people ask me how I am able to spend so much time in the mountains. I work full time as a high school teacher, I run a youth program, I’m a writer, a wife, auntie, daughter, and occasionally I am even required to eat and sleep. Spending time outside isn’t my job, but it is something I crave and I choose to make it a regular part of my life. No, I don’t always get to spend time in the mountains as much as I want. But I have developed a few habits that help me get into the mountains more often.
Here are a few things I have done to make spending time outside a more regular part of my life.
I choose to spend more time outside. You can do anything you put your mind to. But you won’t find time to do something if you don’t consider it a priority. Decide to do it, and put it on your calendar. Be selfish with your time – you are taking care of yourself, and that needs to be a priority. Sure, there are always going to be circumstances outside of our control that might interfere with our plans. But at the end of the day, we have a choice. I choose to go outside.
I sign up for stuff. You are going to be significantly more likely to follow through with something if you have invested in it. One year, as a way to force myself to exercise regularly, I signed up for the Tough Mudder with a few friends. I knew that I had a set amount of time until I had to be able to run 10 miles and complete obstacles that were going to require a LOT of upper body strength. I worked out more in the 8 months leading up to that race than I ever had in my life. The race was fairly expensive, so I didn’t want to back out. You don’t have to sign up for anything crazy – even a 5k walk can be a good motivator to get out and move around more often. Find something that will challenge you an appropriate amount, but that also sounds enjoyable.
I force myself to put aside unreasonable expectations. You don’t have to climb Mt Everest to get some quality time with nature. You don’t have to do an overnight trip. Heck, you don’t even have to spend a whole day outside. How much time do you have? Ten minutes? Go for a walk at a local park or around your neighborhood. No, it isn’t as good as getting out on the trail, but it sure is better than not getting off the couch. Even 10 minutes can be enough to get your mind and body in a better place. Do you have more time? Awesome. Decide how much time you have to spend outside, and find an adventure that fits your time-frame.
I find someone to go with. I try to schedule adventures with others on a regular basis. If I’m meeting up with someone else, I’m not going to bail. When that alarm clock goes off, I’m up and at it. It can also be a lot of fun to share the memories with someone else. Don’t have anyone to go with? Check Facebook for some local hiking groups. I’d bet money there are other hikers in your area that are also looking for a hiking buddy.
Find a way to reward yourself for getting out. I bribe myself with snacks. I make sure to bring fun snacks to eat during my adventure, and I always leave a snack in the car to celebrate. Eat somewhere fun on the way home. Or if snacks aren’t a good motivator for you, find a better way to reward yourself. One time I really wanted a new jacket – Outdoor Research’s Deviator Hoody (which I still have and LOVE). I wanted it BAD. I set a physical goal, and told myself when I reached that goal I could get the jacket. It was enough to keep me from skipping my workouts. Make sure you are celebrating the fact that you are getting outside!
Remember why you’re doing it. The end goal should be to become healthier mentally, physically, and emotionally. By taking care of yourself, you are also taking care of the people around you. Make your wellbeing a priority. Start small, and work your way up. Anything is better than nothing. We will always be able to find excuses not to do something – but what if we changed our mindset to where rather than making excuses, we make opportunity?
How do you make time to get outside?