One of the reasons I love being outdoors is because I truly feel that time spent in the wild has been my greatest healer, listener, and teacher. Walking amongst the natural world has allowed me time to reflect on my life; on aspects that aren’t sitting right with my being, and on realigning my mind and body to the slow pace of nature.
Harvey and I headed to the Isle of Arran a couple of weeks ago, and I - as per usual - went with around five goals for the weekend. Not only did I want to enjoy the company of my wonderful boyfriend in a place I’ve never visited before, but I also hoped to film a video, curate a blogpost, make a Ramble Guide to the Isle of Arran which included visiting a number of sites and doing a hotel feature and review, and on top of that I needed to get some photography content for a brand I was working with. We had also planned to do a long 9-mile mountain walk and a 13-pitch trad climb. I went into the weekend feeling anxious that I wouldn’t get everything I hoped for done; and I left feeling anxious that I hadn’t tried my hardest at all of it. Everything got too much, and I broke down half way up a mountainside with exhaustion and sadness. I learned a lot that weekend.
This blogpost isn’t going to be a long one about all the things we did and places we went on Arran, instead it is a reminder to myself - and perhaps to you - of the necessity of slowing down. It’s something that I find really difficulty, and lately I suppose I’ve been ‘keeping busy’ to avoid the onset of sadness and grief. Stopping means thinking, and in all honesty I don’t always want to be thinking.
What I’m learning is that stopping doesn’t have to be scary. That relaxing doesn’t mean that I’m not achieving. That not filming that video or writing that blogpost doesn’t mean I’ll get left behind.
That weekend on Arran, we did half a 9 mile walk and half a 13-pitch trad climb; I got 75% of the content that I wanted for Ramble and filmed a half-hearted video for my channel. I didn’t excel at anything I set out to do, because I set out to do too much. It made me rethink a lot of things; the amount of work I’m giving myself, what I enjoy doing most, and what I see having longevity. But more than that, it made me realise how much I just need to be… and for once, not do.
You might notice that I’ll be scaling back my blog and Instagram a little. Not because I don’t love this little corner of the internet, but because I want to focus more on getting quality content out when I have real time and energy to put into it. I want to keep writing about things that matter; about the lessons I have learned in nature, and the ways we can protect her in return. But I really can’t do that if I don’t take care of myself first.
Social media can be a wonderful space to be inspired to go out and do things, but it can also be a place where you feel like you need to constantly be doing something. The reality is that you just can’t. Sometimes what your body needs is to spend a day at home and do nothing much but drink tea and read books, and other days it’s nice to head out on a 5 mile hill-walk and evening swim. There are the days when you wake up raring to go, and those when you bury your head back under the pillow and say ‘nope, not today’. I think we should all honour those days just as much as we honour the ones where we head outside and do something ‘cool’. I think we should all listen to our bodies a little more, and look at those days as times to realign, relax, and rejuvenate.
I love the idea of ‘say yes more’ in many ways, but I also feel that as a culture we are obsessed with the concept of showing people that we’re doing something all the time, even if we don’t want to be. I heard something recently called JOMO and it really resonated with me; JOMO is the ‘joy of missing out’, and I think it is a beautiful concept that I will certainly be bringing into my life more. In essence, listen to your body and take time for yourself. How about not going out on that day-hike and instead spend a day burying your head into a good book or film with oodles of tea and some self-care. The hills will always be there waiting for us, welcoming us with open arms when we are ready to embrace them.