We’re all figuring out how to adapt to changing times right now. Since heading to the wild to recharge and refresh isn’t really available these days, we wanted to share some tools on how to stay grounded and find peace of mind. Whether you’re looking to kickstart a new healthy habit or need something to help you get by, these are sure to help.
Meditation is one of the best ways to create stillness, find mental clarity, and become aware of our thought patterns. Just five minutes of sitting down and paying attention to your breath can create calm, and best of all: you can meditate anywhere. (Ok, maybe not noisy, busy environments. But you get the idea.)
Here’s how to start meditating:
Find a comfortable seat.You don’t need a padded cushion here, you can use a couch, a char — whatever’s available to you.
Set a timer.“Are these five minutes up yet?” Use a timer with a quiet tone to remind you when your session is over so you aren’t anxiously checking the clock.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath.Notice how your breath feels in your nostrils, your throat, your chest and stomach. You can count your breaths, starting from one to ten, then restarting at one. Thinking “in” while inhaling and “out” while exhaling works, too.
When thoughts cross your mind, gently remind yourself to focus on the breath.Remember: meditating isn’t about the absence of thought. It’s recognizing when a thought occurs and gently reminding yourself to return to your breath. You’re not doing it wrong if you’re flooded with thoughts - meditation is the act of noticing them, saying hello, and returning your focus to your breathing. Go easy on yourself.
Sometimes the benefits of meditation are quiet and sneaky, so don’t feel like you did it wrong if you don’t always feel better right away. Think of it as a way to treat yourself to some quiet alone-time.
Start getting more sleep
This is a seriously underrated way to feel better all day long. I’ve met a lot of people that boast about not needing much sleep, and I’m willing to bet most of them are seriously under-rested. Give yourself a break and prioritize getting more than 8 hours of sleep a night. You might be surprised at how much brighter and happier your body and brain are when you’re regularly providing yourself with 8+ hours of sleep.
Have a hard time falling asleep at night? Here are a few tips that have helped us at Seek More Wilderness:
Don’t use your phone, computer, or tv for at least an hour before bed.Blue light from screens tricks your body into staying up later. Plus, the content on the devices keeps our minds alert and active instead of winding down and relaxing. We’re definitely guilty of scrolling through photos of national parks and campsites on Instagram while in bed, but we sleep better when we don’t.
Set a bedtime reminder.Most of us use an alarm to wake up in the morning, but try using an alarm to remind yourself when to go to bed, too. Do the math to figure out what time you should head to bed to get 8+ hours of sleep, then set an alarm for an hour beforehand. This way you won’t accidentally stay up super-late, plus you can use this time to create a bedtime routine.
Create a bedtime routine.Having a set behavior before going to bed trains your brain to decompress and fall asleep faster. This isn’t too tough to do: take a short shower, brush your teeth, change into pajamas, meditate for five minutes — there are a lot of ways you can start a short routine before crawling in bed.
Cut the caffeine, especially in the afternoon.Seriously. As a big coffee- and caffeine-lover, I can’t believe the amount of difference this one makes. Here’s a fact I wasn’t aware of until this winter: it takes most people about 5-6 hours to process half the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Say you have two cups of coffee at 10 AM and head to bed at 10 PM — there’s still about a quarter cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine in your system!
“Yeah, but I have no trouble falling asleep even right after a cup of coffee.” Me too! But caffeine doesn’t just affect your ability to fall asleep — it affects your ability to get deep, REM-cycle sleep. That means that even if you can fall asleep just fine after caffeine, you can still wake up feeling groggy and under-rested because the caffeine kept you from sleeping well. Which is usually when you head back to the coffeepot or tea kettle for more caffeine to remedy it. It’s a bad cycle.
Here’s a fun way to test caffeine’s effect on your sleep without reducing the amount you drink: drink it all before 10 AM. Whether you’re having one cup or one pot of coffee, keep the amount the same but only allow yourself to drink it in the early morning. Then, switch to decaf or, even better, herbal tea. Try it for a week - you might be surprised at the better quality off sleep.
Plan future trips into the wild
One of the hardest lifestyle changes facing us is we can’t really safely or responsibly head into the wild right now. In a lot of places, trails and parks are closed. In others, they’re so crowded with people that it doesn’t feel safe to visit them. It’s a bummer, but one way we’ve coped is to use this time to plan future trips.
I’m usually really bad at trip planning, opting to ‘plan' my trips weekend-by-weekend with a generous helping of spontaneity. But these days, I’m researching new hikes and places I want to visit in national parks, adding when to apply for hiking permits to my calendar, and learning about new national monuments to visit after the pandemic. Future me is going to love all the organization I’ve added.
If trip-planning still doesn’t feel like the right way to scratch your adventure list, we’ve got an entire blog post about other ways you can get outdoorsy right in your living room.
Defend the wild
You know what’s just as good as getting in the wild? Defending the wild. You can use this time to stand up for the places you adventure, because there’s no better feeling than supporting a cause that deeply resonates in you. Read our blog post about the Great American Outdoors Act, then call or email your senators and ask them to support it.
If you’re able, consider donating to a cause you believe in and reap the warm fuzzies of making the world a better place. Here at Seek More Wilderness, we support our non-profit partners Wilderness Inquiry and The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, because we love their work in celebrating and protecting public lands. Remember: 50% of profits from your order are donated to supporting their work. Check out our new t-shirts or grab some stickers for your water bottle or laptop and support our mission to make sure everyone has wild places to adventure.