This week’s post has been written by the wonderful Iona! Iona is an Internet friend I made through following each other online and keeping up with each other’s journeys along the way. She is a big inspiration and she takes absolutely stunning photos of her hikes and trips through the outdoors. Today she has kindly written a post all about the positive influence being out in nature has on her and how it helps her gain more clarity and insight on things. This post has been beautifully written and really highlights the importance of doing something that fires you up and lights you up inside in order to allow you to go into other elements of life showing up as your best possible self.
If you follow my Instagram account (@iona.adventuring) then you will know how much I strive to spend every spare second finding new adventures. People constantly ask me how I have the time to explore so much and I get asked what I do for work that allows so much free time. The reality is that I work full time as a nurse with very unsocial, long hours. I just have to look a little harder for the free moments in my week which I can then fill up with big or little adventures.
So you may say that I manage to find time to enjoy the great outdoors DESPITE working such long shifts. I actually feel that it is BECAUSE of my work that I crave the therapeutic benefits of spending time outside. The everyday stresses and strains of life can leave us feeling drained and lethargic. Everyone has ‘stuff’ going on and everyone is under pressure at some time or another. The easy option may be to sit down in front of the TV and switch off from the rest of the world. Does that really leave you feeling refreshed and re-energised? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s exactly what I do. However I can truthfully say that the majority of the time my real stress reliever is to lace up my boots, wrap up against the elements and get out into the hills. Even a gentle stroll round a loch. Kick through leaves in a park. Cycle along muddy trails. Dip my toes in the sea. Anything to be outside taking big gulps of that lovely fresh air!
It’s these moments with mother nature that I look forward to. When I’ve got a long day at work I’m constantly planning and scheming the next adventure in the back of my mind and that is what keeps me going. Although I know of course that these hours spent in the outdoors are good for my physical health, it’s the psychological aspect of it that also draws me back time and time again. When I’m out walking in the hills I allow myself the headspace to think about the things that have been on my mind. I don’t necessarily come to any final conclusions but it’s good to have the time to actually process my thoughts without the interruptions that everyday life can throw my way.
There’s something naturally therapeutic about putting one foot in front of the other with no purpose other than to enjoy moving. Not hurrying to get somewhere, not trying to prove something to someone who’s opinion doesn’t really matter. Just moving and enjoying the fact that you can do so!
We all know about those lovely natural endorphins that are released in the body when we exercise but there’s so much more to it! There’s a sense of achievement I get from planning an adventure and seeing it through. That connection I built with anyone who joins me for a day in the mountains. Not to mention the incredible views from the summit of a majestic Munro! There’s a reminder that however big my problems may seem, being outdoors and surrounded by those huge powerful mountains puts everything back into perspective.
The mind is so incredibly intricate but it can be easily neglected. From my own experience I find that being outdoors and exercising helps my mind to slow down so I can process everything a little better. In turn it can then catch up with the constant pace and demands of the rest of my body. When some aspects of your life can become overwhelming, trust that some time in the outdoors will give you a clearer perspective of it all. Make a little more time to explore and to move, I think you’ll find that the benefits can become addictive!
If anyone would like to join my mountain days then you can find regular updates on the facebook group ‘Iona’s Adventures’. So far I have met some really wonderful people through my online community and it’s amazing to be able to bring together like minded people with a passion for the outdoors!
In her spare time Iona also raised money for the charity Health in Mind by hiking 26.2 miles! (Is there anything this girl can’t do- she’s a superwoman). If you want to learn more about the charity please check out their work through this link.