Depression is a bitch. At times, it's a violent process that seems to rip apart your life quickly and brutally, but it can also be slow and insidious. For the lucky ones, sometimes it just pops up like a momentary cloud over an otherwise sunny day. Everyone has experienced it in one form of another, some of us just experience it more severely or more often.
Personally, my depression experience is linked to my circumstances: hormones, season… hell, even temperature. Too cold or oppressively hot? I’m either depressed or angry. With a knee problem that is only getting worse, I also experience mobility issues that I had never seen as being a part of my life. Some days are better than others. Some days are soul-cripplingly painful, emotionally and physically. Other days are fine and I surprise myself with what I can do.
Because of this growing disability/mobility issue and working from home, I’ll catch myself not leaving my house for a few days at a time, especially during less hospitable weather conditions. This snowballs into isolation, worsening pain, and a loss of a sense of freedom. I forget what I am able to do and become more and more codependent rather than interdependent with my partner.
I’m one of the lucky few that have a partner who can pick up on these habits and dips, sometimes helping me catch them before I’m in their full grasp.
Other times, he gets caught in my psychosis until something clicks in either of us like a lightbulb: It’s time for me to go the fuck outside.
It truly can be as simple as that. Get out of your space. Commune with nature. Get some vitamin D. Even if you don’t actively want to be out there, it truly can help to leave your familiar surroundings and just allow yourself to exist without them. Now, I’m not proposing some On Walden Pond or Leaves of Grass shit. We’re going to keep it real and keep it real simple.
Here Are 5 Ways To Integrate The Outdoors Into Your Every Day Life.
1. Take A Walk (Or A Ride) Through Nature.
Depending on your physical ability, the simplest thing you can do is to just put on your shoes and go for a walk around the block. It sounds like an incredibly easy activity, but for people with mobility issues or psychological disorders, it can seem like yet another daunting task in which they feel destined to fail.
It’s okay, dude. From one minor agoraphobe to potential others: we have to do these things sometimes because if we don’t, they get worse. The fear builds. The confidence and sense of self erodes.
Start with one block and work up from there. You got this.
2. Read A Book Outside.
All right, so you’re outside, but you can’t take a walk for some reason or another. That’s okay, don’t beat yourself up. Whip out that killer novel or non-fiction book that you’ve been dying to finish and commit to either a solid time or a few chapters.
Bring a blanket, something for your head, and sunscreen. Turn your phone on silent — or better yet, completely off — and just immerse yourself in the plot.
3. Have A Picnic.
Picnics don’t have to be fancy, twee affairs. There needn’t be any special baskets or serenades accompanied by ukulele in Dolores Park. Take your lunch outside and sit under a tree or in the sun for a bit. It doesn’t even have to be a full meal — enjoy your coffee or tea in the great outdoors. Let your sunscreen-covered skin soak in some vitamin D and simply detox from workplace bullshit for your precious thirty to sixty minutes of “me” time.
Bring a partner with you, or better yet, say fuck it and grab your little bit of zen. That place was stressing you out, anyway.
4. Bring The Business Meeting Outside.
If you have any flexibility at your job, suggest to your boss or colleagues that you bring the business meeting outdoors. Take a walk around the block while you discuss the latest strategy, deliver a pitch, or have your check-in. Bring a handful of folks to a nearby outdoor seating area and kick around new ideas in a new environment.
Different spaces can get creative juices flowing in ways that you wouldn’t expect. If you’re stagnating, sometimes you have to step out of the box — or workplace — to gain new perspective.
5. Take A Hike.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a rich park system or beautiful natural spaces and have the physical ability to do so, it’s time you take a hike. From the hills to the seashores, there are plenty of terrains and new spaces to explore if you live in a particularly eco-diverse area. Bring a camera or just charge up your phone if you’re into photography — you never know what will inspire you along the way.
If it’s been a while, bring a partner and pack a lunch. Bring plenty of water, SPF, a hat, and sunglasses.
6. Go Camping.
Camping doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. You don’t have to drive for hours just to go somewhere you’ve heard of. If you’re lucky enough to live near a State or Regional Park, many of them have campgrounds. In fact, some campgrounds even have showers with hot water, though they may be few and far between.
Pick a destination and figure out what you want to do. Are you there to hike and see the wilderness, or do you just want to grill and giggle with pals or your SO around the campfire? Make sure your plans and expectations somewhat align with your campfire compatriots so that everyone is on the same level, and advocate for your needs and limitations before, during, and after they arise. Let folks know what works for you and what does not ahead of time, but do not be ashamed of yourself if your needs change during the trip.
Advocate for your needs. Just do whatever it takes to change up your scenery. It’s time to go the fuck outside.