Everyone is always going to have days or moments where they don’t feel their best. However, it is important to know ways to make yourself feel better or to maintain balance in your life. As someone involved in the outdoor sector, many of the activities I use for my wellbeing are outdoors. You might also find that these are helpful, but the most important thing is finding things that work for you and that you enjoy.
I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on a therapeutic surfing programme and explored how this, and being in or by water, may help wellbeing. Having grown up swimming competitively and spending many holidays at the beach, I find being close to the water makes me calmer and happier and there’s growing evidence to support this.
I enjoy going paddleboarding. I try to choose scenic locations on days when the water is still, making the experience peaceful and relaxing. Going out onto the water provides some distance from the stresses of life and heading out to sea, or into an open body of water can make your problems feel small or less significant as you see how tiny you are compared to the world around you.
Another thing that I find to be helpful for my wellbeing is going swimming in lakes, rivers and the sea. Whilst sometimes I do this for exercise, swimming longer distances, mostly I just go for a dip, to play in the waves, or to spend time with friends. Playfulness is good for wellbeing across all ages, but becomes harder and more stigmatised as you get older. Being in or by the water provides a perfect opportunity to have fun in an unrestricted way which can be both freeing and invigorating.
Not everything has to be by water to be good for you, although having spent the last 5 years in Devon, I am a little biased towards the sea. Green spaces, such as parks or woodlands are also said to have health benefits. Spending time walking, running, and even just sitting outdoors can improve mood and provide a contrasting environment to daily life.
I also enjoy climbing, especially outdoors because I find spending time in outdoor environments to be energising and it usually makes me happier too. The focus required in climbing is also useful to my mental wellbeing. When I am climbing, I cannot think of anything else except what I am doing. This means that it gives me the opportunity to switch off from the stresses and responsibilities of my day-to-day life, providing me with an often well-needed break.
Not everything has to be active or outdoors to make you feel good. Whilst exercise and nature can both be useful, if you don’t enjoy spending time doing them, then they aren’t going to make you feel better. The most important thing is finding activities that you enjoy, that make you happy, and that give you the break you need from your usual activities.
I’m not the biggest bookworm by any means, but sometimes I enjoy settling down and getting lost in a book. It can provide a distraction from any worries and give you an escape from them.
Sometimes, I enjoy baking. It is fun to create something and even better to share it with friends and family afterwards. Many creative tasks are great for wellbeing, so whether you enjoy drawing, painting, playing music or dancing, they are all great outlets, providing chances to focus and relieve stress.
Finally, spending time with friends and family is always great ways to feel connected, supported and to have fun. Doing something you enjoy with your friends can be a great way to have a break from your work or to enjoy any of the previously mentioned activities in a more social way. Additionally, when you are having days that aren’t as good as you’d like, being able to talk with other people is usually helpful. It can put things into perspective, give you an opportunity to let out your feelings, and provide a distraction from the stressful events in your life.