I am a massive advocate for the outdoors. It is one of the reasons I am doing Swim Through Darkness. I have written several books in which I strongly support the outdoors as a means of structuring life and supporting both mental and physical health.
We do not all have the luxury of open space where we live. some of us live in cities for example that can feel very removed from the outdoors world. One thing that connects us all and that we can connect to no matter where we live on this earth is the sky. If you are feeling trapped or are struggling during the lockdowns or the stresses of life at the minute take a moment to look at the sky from time to time. It is always there. I know it sounds really stupid and I get it if you don't see it the way I do but hear me out at least, it might be of some help. In fact, I'm going to copy and paste an excerpt from one of my books. It is actually a book about bereavement based on losing my father but I think this section of it might be of use to some of you, or at least I hope so....
Excerpt from Survive & Thrive - Guidance to Help Keep You Afloat After The Death of Your Parent.
In my opinion the outdoors is something that should be one of the major focal points of daily life for everyone. It is the natural world; it is where everything we have in life has evolved from, yet so many people have virtually no conscious connection to it. Watching other people outdoors on TV shows or on social media is about as close as many people allow themselves to the natural world. Being out in the weather makes you feel alive! Whether it’s being active and pursuing a sport or activity, or simply sitting outside enjoying the sun, or being wrapped up with a fire lit keeping warm in the cool winter evenings. Most things outdoors fill us with energy.
Allowing yourself to be immersed in the outdoors is truly where the best connection to the natural world exists. Being beyond the four walls of your room is the best way to connect with nature and to feel part of it all. This could be where your exercise takes place, or it could be as simple as sticking your head out the window! The outdoors is where I personally believe ‘getting our heads showered’ is best achieved. I spend a lot of time outdoors - it has without doubt been an anchor in my life. I eat my meals outdoors most of the time - day or night summer or winter - I walk my dog in the forest, on the streets, on the beach, up the mountain, I fish in the river, I surf and paddle board and swim in the sea and I teach self-defence at the beach. Even as I write this, I am sitting out the back of the house with 4 layers on and an extension lead from indoors out to my laptop! I honestly spend hours outside everyday doing something. I’ve always been like that. I used to go through so many clothes as a kid because I would come in soaking wet and covered in muck every day. Maybe you work outdoors, and you love nothing more than to be inside after hours out there, that’s fine, at least you know and recognise that. However sometimes our eyes can be wide shut to all that is around us, so don’t dismiss the opportunity for more outdoors time but in a different capacity.
When was the last time you went camping? Ever gathered driftwood and had a campfire? What about walking somewhere that doesn’t have a path? These are things we often remember from when we were kids, but so few us carry them on into adult life. There is a lot out there to be discovered, to learn, to see and do that will broaden your horizons, give you new experiences and challenges, that will stay with you forever, often forming the best days of your life. I have countless stories from the outdoors; I don’t even know where to begin. Become connected with the outdoors, it is the greatest connection you can make. Connect through something, surfing, fishing, walking, hiking, climbing whatever you like, but do it regularly and it will take you places. It will open your eyes to other locations to do the thing you love, and before you know it you will be travelling all over the country and then the world, pursuing it, meeting others who do it, and seeing all the cultures of the world in the process. This alone broadens your horizons and shows you how others live their lives and their perspective on things. Having a passion for the outdoors is a very strong asset to have in life. Once again, the simple act of doing one thing can lead to countless benefits and experiences that will stay with you forever and teach you along the way. I know a man who lost his dad when he was 7 years old. It had a huge impact on the family, ultimately scattering them all over the world and living separate lives. This man had never done anything outdoors in his life, he had no interest in sport except watching it on tv. He also couldn’t swim at the time either. I took him out paddle boarding one day, and it changed his life. He ended up doing it every day, getting his own equipment, and then going on to teaching others too. He found a real love for something he previously didn’t know existed, and it’s now rare to pass the local beaches and not see him out there. He even went on and to raise money for charity and set a record time over a distance in doing so. A truly life changing connection to the outdoors.
The outdoors is a great metaphor for life itself. Living life regardless of the weather is a very good attitude to have. Embrace the world in which you live! There is beauty in the outdoors in all weather, and seeing that will no doubt make your life better. Look at the tiny details, the patterns in the sea, the blowing sand, the moss in the shadows, the cracks in the rocks. Look right now at the sky. See how vast it is? Notice the colours in the sky, the movement of the clouds. That is the true world passing by! Do that every day, look at the sky it is a very freeing exercise to do, lifting you from your head space to the natural world in an instant. And if you don’t want to leave your house to do it, well that’s ok, look out the window for now.
The sky is the one thing that connects us no matter where we live on this earth. Think about it, you can see it from everywhere. When was the last time you went to look at the stars? They are there every night and I bet you rarely notice them. If you follow me on social media, you probably noticed that I love looking at the sky and I post pictures of it constantly. It represents so much to me. It is moody, has depth, holds our dreams, daydreams, myths and legend, it is constantly changing and moving. It is a great symbolism of life itself, and connecting with it (by observing its changes for a few minutes every day) can be a great way of staying connected to the earth, and of keeping our lives in perspective in remembering that we are each part of a much bigger thing. Our problems - no matter how big or small - are all just part of this gigantic universe of energy.
So if you can, I suggest that you get outdoors every single day. In an ideal world we would all live with lots of space around us and easy access to the outdoors, but it’s not always possible. I strongly suggest doing it if you can.