I understand this may not be a problem that everyone is experiencing right now, but for me, it’s very real.
As a nurse I’ve worked all through the pandemic, so with 2 weeks annual leave booked for my birthday, I had been busy planning all sorts of adventures. We were going to take our camper van to East Anglia, see my parents, explore the Norfolk Broads, the Fens, visit my old childhood beaches- but then a second lockdown was announced. What should have been two weeks of fun and birthday celebrations was abruptly stopped.
Matt decided he would carry on working which meant me and the dog were home alone, and whilst I envisioned I would still go out on daily walks and adventures, perhaps walk the second leg of My Cornish Camino, I actually found I had no motivation to go outside at all.
A combination of loneliness, anxiety or depression I wasn’t sure, but I was determined that even though I might not be on the holiday I anticipated, I would not spend 2 weeks in bed. When you’re mentally exhausted, you can feel physically done in, so it’s important to let your mind heal before you start to plan the next hike.
I know some people will swear that going for a walk and getting out in nature will cure everything, but for me, if I’m anxious, getting out in nature is just really stressful. Even the most basic walk can leave me close to a panic attack as I try to avoid others, beat myself up for wearing the wrong shoes as it starts to rain, or get angry at the dog because he won’t return when I call his name. Sometimes you need to stay at home.
One thing I find however, is that it is easy to allow feelings of inadequacy to spiral when you’re in a low mood like that. If you want to be outside, but you just aren’t feeling it, here are 5 things I do to stop me from falling into a full on depression.
Read something different
I love reading books by people that go on adventures; walking, sailing, travelling somewhere new, I love to read about their experiences and the situations they found themselves in. Sometimes though, reading other people live a life I wish I was living makes me feel like crap. If I can barely take the dog to the park, I don’t want to read about someones time on the Trans-Siberian railway. So, rather than try and push through a book I’m not enjoying and that is making me feel awful, I read something completely different.
I recently set up an account with a company called the Hand Me Down Book Club. This monthly subscription service sources books that don’t get recycled and saves them from landfill by sending them out to those that have signed up. I love it because I get books I probably wouldn’t even look once at in the bookshop, let alone twice. (To earn £2 credit use this link: Hand Me Down Book Club)
So, last week, instead of reading a book on a woman that went on a long distance walk, I read a book on gossip and scandal in 1900 New York. I got caught up in it and finished it in 3 days, it was perfect escapism and took myself out of my mind. I stopped beating myself up for not going on a long distance walk myself, and just enjoyed being mindful with the book I had read instead.
Have a clear out/ tidy up
I love having a clear out! One obstacle I often faced earlier in the year was that all my outdoor kit was unorganised and jumbled up. My walking trousers were mixed with Matt’s sailing gear and my beach shoes were hidden so far back in my wardrobe I was scared to reach and get them. Frustrated, I decided to do something about it rather than use it as another excuse not to get outside.
Pre lockdown, I ordered some new furniture, sourced some things second hand online, took a trip to Ikea and completely blitzed our spare room. It stopped being somewhere we just dumped everything, to a space the girls from The Home Edit would be proud of.
Since organising our stuff a couple of weeks ago, Matt and I have spent the past two Sundays walking on Dartmoor, whatever the weather. We now know where our waterproofs are, and where to put them back to find them the next time. So, if you have a similar issue, spend some time sorting. Go as slow as you want and don’t fret about the time it takes, but just enjoy keeping your brain and hands busy, you won’t regret it, and when you are ready to get back outside, all your kit will be ready for you.
Unfollow things on social media that make you feel bad
If you’re interested in something, chances are you engage with other like minded people on social media about that thing. I follow a lot of walking accounts and also groups like Love Her Wild and Say Yes More, but sometimes, I just can’t deal with them.
I’ll look out my window at the overcast sky and decide not to go for that jog because I’m feeling a bit tired today, then I’ll sit on the sofa and scroll through Facebook. I’ll see someone younger and fitter than me has posted pictures of that time they sailed solo to reach some deserted island where they wild camped for the week living off berries, and suddenly my whole life is called into question.
The thing is, there is nothing wrong with either life choice. Don’t get me wrong, we all have to exercise, but some days, its ok to take the day off, and you don’t have to feel bad about it. I can guarantee that the woman who solo sailed will also have days where she can’t be bothered to do anything either. If you ordinarily enjoy interacting with those groups, but you’re just not feeling it, as with reading something different, its ok to disengage for a while until you’re ready to look again.
Social media is notorious for making us feel bad about ourselves, and it’s well known people often only post their highlights and best bits, don’t let yourself get lost down the rabbit hole of comparison.
Listen to a feel good podcast
I’ve recently got into podcasts and I love them for chilling out or for a bit of background noise when doing the chores.
What I’ve also found is there are an abundance of them out there where people talk about their mental health, because the thing is, everyone has mental health, including some popular household names. Listening to the problems of people with seemingly perfect lives is, I think, extremely cathartic. They normalise that everyone has bad days. Incidentally, if you find yourself lost down that social media rabbit hole, putting your phone down and turning on a podcast can really help break the spiral.
Ones I enjoy listening to are;
How to Fail with Elizabeth Day
Food, We Need to Talk
The Joe Wicks Podcast.
I also listen to couple of others, one around fertility called Big Fat Negative, and a couple of funny ones, You’re Dead to Me and Evil Genius with Russel Kane.
I just find they take my focus off me, I can empathise with someone I might look up to, and learn something new about someone who always came across as cool and calm and collected. I love that the conversation around mental health is changing.
Ferne Cotton, when interviewed on The Joe Wicks Podcast said something really interesting, (she was quoting someone else but she couldn’t recall who), “Be patient with yourself, nothing in nature blooms all year.”
We aren’t all perfect, all the time- it’s ok to not be ok.
Do something creative
Bake a cake, draw a picture, sew, colour, wood work, glass turning, have a photo shoot- whatever brings you joy, do it!
We might be in lock down, but with many shops and suppliers offering delivery and click and collect services, there is no excuse not to try your hand at something you’ve always wanted to try, or make something you’ve always wanted to make.
If you don’t quite have the motivation to get creative or try or new hobby, thats also ok, but maybe plan for when you will be ready. Start a Pinterest board, write a list of materials you might need or sketch some designs.
If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, but like looking at pretty things, why not look at online shops like Etsy or Not On the Highstreet or the websites of some local businesses and buy yourself something that someone else has made, treat yourself!
I bought some new Outdoor Scratch Maps for our house as well as some early Christmas shopping. I’ve also started to make a new dress and I’m currently waiting on the thread to sew it all together but again, that mindful feeling of being in the moment as I sorted out the pattern pieces and cut out the material I needed was a joy.
So there we go, 5 things to do when you love going on adventures but you’re just not in the mood. Tell me, what do you do to combat those feelings of inadequacy? How do you bounce back and put yourself out there? Also, any podcast recommendations?
What a great post – despite the restrictions, the tiredness and generally feeling low you were able to find great things to enjoy – that’s quite inspirational and you should be proud of yourself. During 2020 there has been much distress and horrors (I am sure you have experienced your fair share, I salute all nurses and medics out there). I guess holidays away from home are often a perfect antidote. However, as we are all learning to enjoy small pleasures and to cope how we can I know where you were coming from. I am trying to slow down a bit, craft more, appreciate friends and family and have been reading lots and lots of books – escape into the pages – I shall look into the Hand Me Down Club. Thank you