I struggle to enjoy myself. There, I said it. I know its mildly ridiculous but I find it hard to notice and appreciate a moment of happiness because my anxiety turns my mind to thoughts of doom and my feelings of guilt prevent me from truly enjoying myself.
I am sure I am not alone. But, this doesn't happen in the outdoors. I don’t know why.
If it is something I am doing when I am paddling or walking or just sitting under a tree listening to the sounds of the forest I might be able to translate it to my every day life… but what if it isn’t? It definitely isn’t. Ah, there I go again.
Positive to negative
I have always considered myself to be a positive person and it is only recently that my eyes have been opened to my overwhelming negativity. It is a peculiar feeling to think you are one thing and then realise you are another.
I have always craved the company of positive people and only now do I realise that it is because they lift me out of my natural state and not because they maintain it.
Now that I am beginning to understand this negativity and the anxiety it brings, as well as the unnecessary guilt I carry around with me, I am also beginning to combat it and look to find ways to enjoy the moment. So how does the outdoors fit into this?
Well, for some time now I have recognised that time spent in the wild, in nature (whether alone or in company) makes me feel better. I guess I wouldn’t be writing this blog otherwise. I also assumed that it made me better. Every time I go for a walk, exert myself outdoors or simply sit in contemplation of nature I feel much better, therefore it is the cure, right? Wrong.
Sorry Ben Fogle!
More recently it has also dawned on me that getting outside is a respite from my usual mental struggles. Through the physical effort, the beauty, the harshness or the calm of the natural world I get a welcome, but temporary, reprieve from the whirring and chattering of my mind. Outdoors I often fall asleep much quicker and I always (nearly always) find the relaxation I need to recharge a little.
But it is not enough. I don’t want to run away from my family to find peace and happiness and a new life in the wild. Sorry Ben Fogle, if you thought you had another episode in the bank. The outdoors feels like a complete mental breather, a total distraction, but in this sense it is no different to just switching the TV on to avoid thinking. Ok, it’s a lot healthier, but on this level it is a mechanism for coping and not a solution. It is an escape.
What if the outdoors is not the answer to my troubles but simply a break from them? I should be grateful anyway of course, but perhaps from now on I will pay more attention as to what changes when I tramp up a hill, sleep in a forest or sit by the river. What happens to me that makes me feel joy in the moment and discard my imagined woes and how can I bottle it?
I would love to hear your thoughts and how you use the outdoors for your own wellbeing. Comment below or get in touch