Ok, ok, now that I’ve got your attention, this post has nothing to do with Jordan Peele’s directorial debut movie that is easily a Best of 2017. If you haven’t watched it yet, do yourself a favor and google to see if it’s still playing in a theatre near you. I personally saw it twice, and would easily see it again. If you’re in my city and need a movie date, I’m there. It’s just that good.
Since we’ve cleared up the confusion, let’s talk about why getting outdoors is a must for me and something I highly recommend for you as well. You’re probably reading this post and saying, “yea, your pics are cool but being outside with the bugs and elements are really not my thing.” I know, I used to be you. To say I’m a mosquito magnet is an understatement, I used to constantly rock a mean blow out (my natural girls feel me), and honestly, I really just wasn’t about that life. Until well, a friend of mine convinced me to give it a try, and I fell in love. Even I find it hard to believe, considering I wasn’t that girl, but now I literally crave the outdoors. I have embraced the fact that I am low key a little nature nerd and I’m not ashamed. I think it makes me sexy, lol (shrugs shoulders).
But that’s my story. Not only does getting outside remind you of the kid that still lives in you, but it has awesome health benefits. According to the April 2017 issue of Shape Magazine, Mother Nature has been proven to “lower stress, rally your energy, upgrade your mood, and improve your blood pressure and heart rate.” Whaaat? Yep, it’s a proven scientific fact. According to the article, when you’re inside, you have to tune out all of these distractions (catty coworkers, TV, your addictive cell phone, etc.). This requires a large amount of mental discipline to focus on the task at hand. However, being outside allows your mind to wander and your body gets to focus on more important tasks, like strengthening your immune system.
Impressive, right? Whenever I feel myself getting stressed or I get that itch that I need to press the reset button, I plan to spend some time in nature. If you’re up for improving your health and taking a break from our technology driven culture, I encourage you to deviate from your normal routine and take it outdoors.
Here are my top 5 tips to help you to Get Out:
- See the outdoors through a new lens.– Nina Smiley, Ph.D, director of mindfulness programming at Mohonk Mountain House in NY insists that if you pay attention to the parts of your surroundings that you might usually miss, you enhance the therapeutic benefits that comes with being outside. The next time you commune with nature, pay attention to the shape of the leaves of a nearby tree or stand still and listen to the birds’ chirp.
- Go with a friend.– This may seem obvious but some of my deepest conversations have been when I’ve spent time with friends in the great outdoors. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that there’s little to distract you, allowing you to let your guard down, and just enjoy one another’s company. Plus your buddy may point out things that you don’t even notice. Like wait, is that a stick or a snake? I kid, I kid.
- Take a hike!– No, literally. According to Shape Magazine, research shows that when you exercise outside, you are likely to enjoy it more and work out longer than if you were to stick to the gym. Obviously, there’s a mood boost to being in lovelier surroundings, but perhaps that dose of vitamin D and reduction in cortisol, a stress hormone, play a part. I don’t know about you, but I’m always down for ways to sneak in extra calorie burning, so if getting outdoors helps me burn more calories, this one is an added plus.
- Make it a game.–This is for my peeps with kiddos. Granted, I’m no mom, although my yorkie, Boss, would bark to differ (see how I did that, beg to differ/bark to differ, lol). However, I am great at being an auntie/big cousin/godmother and even a reliable babysitter on occasion. Playing these different roles lets me incorporate my love for the outdoors with entertaining the easily bored. Before they even start the “how long are we?” whines, I make it a game! Challenge young minds to count the number of x-colored flowers, fallen trees, or cool insects you discover. Consider making it a scavenger hunt and giving the kids 5 things they need to collect, with the winner picking the dinner spot for the evening. Granted you may have to change the rules and the reward to fit the age group, but if you make it a game, I promise the kids will enjoy it just as much as you, and probably more.
- Protect yourself at all times!–No lie, the bugs outside are real. But so is poison ivy, and damaging UV rays. And ain’t nobody got time for dehydration or chapped lips, so be sure to pack your outdoorsy essentials. Consider wearing tights/pants and a light colored/lightweight long sleeve shirt. This has an added bonus of cutting down on bug bites and protection from harmful sun rays if you forget your sunscreen. If you’re a first timer, or it’s been a minute since you’ve communed with Mother Nature, consider bringing these things along: chap stick, water bottle, bug spray, sunscreen, sunnies, an extra ponytail holder (you’ll thank me later), and a backpack to carry all this crap, lol. I heard fanny packs are coming back in style. I personally have a Flip Belt (it’s basically a sheek version of the fanny pack) and it holds my phone, car keys, and whatever else I can jam in that baby. I’ll share the link below.
**Bonus: If you battle with allergies during pollen season try taking a probiotic daily. These healthy bugs not only restore good gut bacteria, but within three weeks, they have been proven to make you more resistant to allergens. Bam!
Don’t forget to make sure your cell phone battery is fully charged so you can take bomb photos, post your dope adventure on Snapchat or IG stories, and have as back up in case an emergency unfolds. There’s nothing scarier than being in the middle of the wilderness with a battery life of 12%, and you have to make a decision about that cool pose you saw such and such do on Instagram or save it for the walk back to your car. Critical decisions, indeed.
I hope this post has sparked your interest in taking a walk on the wild side and investing in some time outdoors. Tag me in your photos on IG and drop me a line if you try out any of my tips.
Remember, there’s an adventure waiting with your name on it (muah). Now Get Out!!!
Toya, In Wonderland