I admit that, in recent months, I’d become a self-care hypocrite. My phone tells me as much with weekly usage reports creeping up and up and its tiny screen being my first and last sight every day.
I write and speak about mental health and wellbeing every day but I’ve become adept at preaching and not practising what I know to be important. I’m good at making excuses about why I can’t get outside more (something that brings me joy) and away from my laptop beyond working hours. I tell myself that I don’t have the time, there are other things I should be doing and it’s too hot/cold/rainy and my hiking boots leak and rub and I don’t have time to replace them.
Then, like a gift – quite literally – the team at Very contacted us with an offer to work together to highlight the wellbeing benefits of spending more time outdoors, and a challenge was born! I would prioritise stroll time in nature over scroll time on my device for five days and reflect upon the impact it had.
My task was to challenge my ‘productivity’ and technology-focused mindset while very kindly and swiftly addressed my incessant procrastination around buying new outdoor gear. Just a day after I selected them, two new beautiful pairs of Adidas hiking shoes and a lightweight Berghaus jacket from their sports clothing and equipment range on my doorstep. I no longer had any excuses left…
With the high-summer morning sun peeking through the blinds at 5.30am, I wake up earlier than my alarm and consider reaching for the phone. I could easily spend an hour scrolling through reels but, instead, I throw on some clothes and the Adidas Terrex Hikster low hiking shoes (I love the colors – beige, purple and white), wake up my dog, Zac and head out.
It’s already a warm day and, as I walk by the Thames, I notice how the river sparkles and witness two cygnets swimming alongside their parents. I remind myself that I wouldn’t have seen this if I’d indulged in my regular morning social media binge.
I sit down on the grass while Zac sniffs the ground around me and I close my eyes for a moment and breathe deeply before turning back towards home. It’s not yet 7am and I’ve felt the sun on my face, connected with nature and spent some quality time with my canine chum. I feel like I’ve achieved something already but, more than that, I feel calm heading into a new work week.
I know that journaling first makes a real difference to how I view the world around me and my interactions with others but I’ve been choosing my phone over the pen and pad recently, so I pop all three in a bag and head off for a walk to our local park.
I task myself with finding a place to sit and write that will bring me joy and I find a pile of logs in front of a majestic tree bathed in the morning sunlight. I sit and marvel at it. I take a picture and start to journal. I write about standing firm, the wind that blows our branches but never reaches our roots and how I could begin to feel more grounded and more satisfied by looking within, rather than out on social media.
I feel like I’ve had a good mind and mood cleanse. That’s the power of nature
Glancing at my watch, I see I’ve been out of the house for just an hour and there’s still time before I need to be back at my laptop. I feel like I’ve had a good mind and mood cleanse. That’s the power of nature.
I realised while journaling again last night that my five-day outdoor reset challenge is significantly easier because of the wonderful weather and the early morning light. On the flip side, starting this challenge in the middle of summer will undoubtedly help me to form a habit and commitment to more time outside, which I hope will continue in the autumn and beyond when the weather isn’t quite as kind.
I decided to forgo a morning walk and head out in the evening after work instead. I know this will be the test for me (early evening tends to be the time when my resolve dissipates). I often scroll through social media as a way of switching off, or I kid myself that I’m catching up with the day’s news. It’s all a slippery slope to lying on the sofa, numbing out, binge watching and mindless phone use – which can be good, but not every day.
When the working day ends, I pull on a pair of Adidas Terrex Trailmaker Mid Cold Hiking Shoes as I’m going for a walk at a local beauty spot and there are some steep climbs – my ankles need support and I want warm, dry feet ! I love these boots and they’re giving me Stranger Things/80’s vibes. It may be superficial of me, but having good footwear that I like the look of makes the walk more of a joy, not to mention even more comfortable.
I enjoy the physical stretch of a moderately challenging walk after a day of writing, seeing the horizon and feeling the air cool as the day starts to move towards night. I find myself thinking about how I can prioritise this kind of movement beyond the challenge. I’m noticing that I’m feeling like I have a little more headspace as a result, it’s almost as if the daily walk is giving me time to process more.
It’s drizzly outside and it would be so easy to push my daily walk to later, or tomorrow even, but I figure that rain is a regular occurrence living in the UK, so getting comfortable with being out in it is a good thing for my long -term hopes of incorporating more outdoor time in my days.
I’m reminded of how good it feels to connect with others while moving your body
I head towards Bushy Park, keeping myself dry and cosy in the lightweight Deluge Pro Shell Jacket Berghaus jacket and I pass two women running and chatting together at the same time. They have rosy cheeks, wet hair and broad smiles. I’m reminded of how good it feels to connect with others while moving your body. I make a mental note to contact a friend I’ve not spoken to for a while and suggest getting together.
Work, family and general time pressures can make it so much harder to see friends as we get older, but I’ve realised that morning coffee and dog walks can provide a real mood boost and an easier, less pressurised way to meet up. Lunchtime strolls could be an option too, break up the day and get in some glorious Vitamin D at the same time! That’s what I call a win-win.
The last day of the reset and part of me wonders whether I was too hasty in agreeing to five days, maybe 10 or even a month would have been good to keep the momentum up?! I slip on the Adidas Terrex Hikster low hiking shoes and head out early doors and pop on a podcast I’ve been wanting to listen to.
Podcasts are a great way of getting different perspectives on the world, hearing others’ opinions and learning more. I also love that I can listen while I walk, and I take in the morning activity on our local high street, coffee shops springing into action, deliveries being made and I see conversations happening outside the local corner shop. I reflect upon what I’d have been doing this time last week and the life I would have been witnessing at this time would’ve been online, possibly someone I didn’t even know sharing a video of a dance to Louis Theroux’s earworm of a ‘rap’.
This reset has been just the challenge I needed
There’s a place for social media and believe me, I’m not attempting to go cold turkey and delete every app! However, I would like to add more IRL interactions, journalling in the park, taking in nature and non-screen views into my day on a regular basis. This reset has been just the challenge I needed to realise that. It’s started something that I hope I’ll continue and make a regular, consistent part of my life moving forwards.
Thank you to Very for offering Happiful the opportunity to take this five-day reset challenge. This article is kindly sponsored by Very and we’ve loved working with them. Please check out their website and most definitely check out the Adidas Terrex Trailmaker Mid Cold Hiking Shoes. They make long walks joyful!
Every geographical sponsorship Happiful receives helps us to continue to send the digital version of our magazine to over 130,000 people every month, ensuring there are no economic or barriers to receiving the support and community we offer. By reading and interacting with sponsored articles like this, you are supporting that mission too.