If you are like me you probably spend a lot of time indoors. After all most of our work is inside. And a lot of our rest and entertainment is too. More and more of our lives are spent in front of screens.
I clean houses (inside) and I blog (inside) and I like to chill in front of the TV in the evening (inside). It can be hard to get outside when everything seems to be inside.
But do you ever feel couped up? This winter was colder and wetter than usual and I felt totally starved of sunshine. Every time the sky was blue I was looking for ways to get outside and enjoy it! I was dying to have a more open air life!
How often do you get outside? How does it make you feel when you do get to spend more time outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine? Would you like to know how to get outside more even if you are always busy?
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Let’s Talk About the Open Air Life
In the middle of our cold dark winter I listened to a book called The Open Air Life by Linda Akeson Mcgurk.
It’s about the Nordic idea of friluftsliv. That’s a mouth full but just means open air life. You could also call it free-air life or fresh-air life.
Unlike hygge which is generally about the coziness of the indoors, the open air life focuses on the benefits of fresh air and trying to spend more time outside!
It’s about having slow and reflective moments in nature. It is not about motor-sports, competitive sports, or playing loud music at the lake.
I have to admit I didn’t immediately want to go on a hike in the snow while I was listening to this book. Still as I listened to I realized that I needed to get outside more than I do and I set it as a goal.
What Is Your Life Like?
Why should we get outside more?
Well, in the book Linda talked about our modern habits and how so many of our hours are spent looking at screens and being sedentary. She said that a neurophysiologist named Carla Hannaford calls us “stressed out survival oriented humans.”
Does that describe you? Are you stressed out and focused on screens for work and then tapping into them to relax and escape too?
Isn’t is also odd that we are always working but we still have to go to the gym and be very careful about what we eat? People used to work with their bodies and that kept them healthy but we work on our butts and it’s not doing us any favors.
For these reasons and many more it is beneficial for our physical, mental and emotional health to seek a little more time outside.
But how can we do that? How can we get outside more when everything we need to do is inside?
Are You Ready to Get Outside More?
There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.Alfred Wainright
One of the biggest things that holds us back when we are thinking about going outside is the weather. Like I said, this winter I did not want to go outside because it was frigid, wet, and windy. In the summertime we like to go outside more but there are days when it’s so hot I don’t want to go outside.
But is that really a good reason not to go outside? Haven’t humans lived mostly outdoor lives throughout history?
As the quote above says maybe the problem isn’t the weather but our clothing. Or our general preparedness.
Could you then dress or pack clothes that are more appropriate to going outside?
For instance, if you live in a rainy place do you have rain jacket and water proof shoes? If you live in a dessert like me do you have a hat, sunglasses, and clothing made of lightweight cotton fabrics? What about hiking boots? Could you pack some tennis shoes for a walk on your lunch break?
I would have gone tromping through the pinion forest behind my house when it was a winter wonderland except I didn’t have shoes that would keep my feet dry.
So just this little tweak, having something to wear outside, can make it easier to enjoy a little bit of open air life.
How to Get Outside More Without Being Outdoorsy
I think of Nordic people and I think of Olympians. Ruddy faced, tall, slender and strong. They spend their entire life hiking and skiing and freezing their butts off.
But that’s an exaggeration.
Many Nordic people have office jobs and normal schedules like you and me. So what’s the difference between us and them?
Simply the DESIRE to spend more time outside.
The Nordic people who enjoy the open air life make time to go outside every single day. It’s part of their normal life.
So how can you make the open air life part of your normal life? How can you make time to be outside?
Simply commit to it. Look for opportunities to go outside.
Can you plan on a walk through a beautiful park everyday? Could you sit on your porch with your coffee in the morning or enjoy a the sunset?
When it’s cold I like to go sit in my hot tub (I know I’m lucky) and look at the pinion forest behind my house. I’m always amazed at all the birds and squirrels and bunnies I see!
What I appreciated most about the book The Open Air Life was this point. You don’t have to go on an EPIC hiking trip to enjoy the Open Air Life! You can make it part of your every day life.
Spend More Time Outside With a Hobby You Love!
So what do you like to do outside?
I grew up in the sunny southwest, on the border of Colorado. Summers were spent camping and hiking and in the winters my dad and I loved to ski.
I’ve always loved to swim and during the pandemic I found my love of kayaking. I even found a super cool folding kayak!
We also got pretty serious about our garden. And we have some pretty cool mountain biking trails and a disc golf course near our house!
There are lots of ways to enjoy the outdoors. From taking a little walk to having a big outdoor adventure there is something for everyone. (To be clear I’m not really the “roughin it” type.)
It’s easy to spend more time outside if you have an outdoor hobby you love. When you find out what you enjoy doing outside it becomes a lot easier to make the outdoors part of your life!
On a sidenot the book says that for a true friluftsliv experience you will want to steer clear or motorized sports or competition.
Learn from The Open Air Life!
If you do want to become a true outdoors officionado you can learn a lot.
In the modern world we are so disconnected from survival skills and nature we would be hard pressed if for some reasons we had to survive a week in the wilderness.
It is therefore very valuable to learn some basic survival skills like how to start a fire, how to do some first aid, and how to forage for edible foods. I definitely need to improve these skills so it’s a new goal I have for the summer.
Linda also mentioned in the book that we have lost our vocabulary for nature. We don’t even know what things are called beyond bird, flower, and tree. And when we don’t know the name of something we don’t feel very attached to it.
Instead she encourages us to get to know the names of things in our native climate. That way we will feel more connected to nature and take better care of it.
I’m going to start with birds and the audobon app I got on my phone! I can do that in the afternoons and evenings sitting on my porch.
Will You Enjoy the Open Air Life?
Here’s the thing. It may feel hard or even irresponsible to get outside more when there is so much work to be done inside! But I promise you this, it’s better than scrolling reels on Instagram or checking the news or your endless Facebook feed.
The benefits of fresh air go on and on. Being more active is key to protecting and promoting your health and when you get outside and connect with nature you can find restoration for your mental health.
When you spend more time outside it’s easier to have healthy habits that provide benefits you can’t get anywhere else.
For example sunshine helps us produce Vitamin D and other vital nutrients and hormones. It also helps us to have a healthy circadian rythym and sleep better.
When we feel anxious time in nature provides opportunity for some slow living, reflection and can help us feel calm and content. That feeling is hard to get anywhere else!
So the only quesiton left is what will you do? Will you try to spend more time outside? Will you make more time in your life for the open air life?
Will you find fun summer activities for adults or an outdoor hobby you enjoy?
What do you like to do outside? Please share in the comments below!