5 Tips For Getting Outside (If Struggling With Your Mental Health)

Brecon Beacons waterfall

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You might have read how walking and being outside is good for your wellbeing and improves your mental health. But what about when you’re feeling that bad that you can’t even consider getting out of bed, let alone leaving the house and going outside?

As someone that has suffered from depression in the past, I know all too well how hard it is.

I will often encourage people to get outside, if you follow me on Instagram (@beckythetraveller) it’s probably the one thing that I like to encourage more people to do.

But I also know how hard it is when you don’t feel good, if when depression has gripped you and it’s a struggle to even make yourself a cup of coffee.

Autumnal walk in Peak District
An autumnal walk in Peak District

This time of year you hear the term SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or winter blues talked about. I notice a difference this time of year and really have to push myself to get outside.

As the days grow shorter, the temperature drops outside and as winter weather creeps in slowly, I notice my mood starts to change. It’s not that noticeable at first but once I stop and think about it I realise that my lifestyle has altered and I’ve stopped getting outside as much.

Here are a few tips for those of you that might be finding thing hard at the moment. Whether you’ve had mental health issues all your life or you’re recently diagnosed, or maybe even you aren’t aware? And hopefully, by doing that it will help make you feel a little better.

If you’re struggling with getting outside, please ask me any questions in the comments or get in touch via my Instagram @beckythetraveller

5 Tips To Get Outside 

(When you don’t really want to)

1. Start with the Little Things

Hiking Ben Narnain in Scotland
Hiking Ben Narnain in Scotland (even though I was feeling anxious)

What do I mean by that?

In order to get outside, there are a few steps that you need to make first, one of those key things is getting up out of bed and getting dressed. You might be struggling to sleep at night so when you wake up rolling back over seems the obvious choice.

But try and get up, shower, get dressed, draw your curtains and let some natural daylight into your life.

Once you’re feeling better later in the day you can then plan to head out. 

2. Plan a Time to Go Out When it Suits You

Afternoon walk in the Peak District
Afternoon walk in the Peak District

Make a plan and try and stick to it.

But think about when suits you best first.

Do you feel better or worse in the mornings, maybe the afternoon is best for you or perhaps early evening? Whatever time you generally feel better is the time you should make your plans for.

3. It Doesn’t Need to Be a 10-Mile Hike

Cheddar Gorge sign post
Walking around Cheddar Gorge

Start with getting out for a short time, work with what you feel comfortable with, maybe it’s 10 minutes, maybe 30 minutes or even an hour. There are no rules, go with what you feel comfortable with and increase or decrease the time outdoors to suit you.

There are some beautiful short walks around the UK, that don’t involve hiking up mountains to see gorgeous views, Catbells walk in the Lake District is beautiful as well as a lovely walk around Rydal Water, you can read more about those walks here

Or a couple of my favourite Peak District walks, Chee Dale walk in the White Peaks or a hike up Mam Tor in the Dark Peaks, both walks can be adapted to shorten to what you feel comfortable with.

4. Don’t Go It Alone

Hiking in the Peak District
Tough day on my E2W hike and Sarah’s company helped

It’s tough getting out on your own sometimes, so make a plan with a friend or family member. I find this works better for me because I like to keep my promises to people if I’ve arranged to go out.

On one of the days on my hike across Britain, I was struggling, I had bad blisters and they, of course, had an impact on my mind and whether I could keep going. But a meet up at my halfway point for that day with my friend Sarah gave me a massive boost.

Yes, my feet still hurt but there’s nothing like a good friend to distract you from the pain! You can follow Sarah on Instagram (she’s lovely) at @SarahJ_Outdoors.

5. Keep Your Energy Levels Up

Top Herd snacks in Peak District
Enjoying some Top Herd snacks on a Peak District walk

Make sure you’re looking after yourself and eating regularly throughout the day, you might not have a big appetite but your energy levels up so that you have enough energy to go out.

Oh, and don’t forget a big breakfast is the best way to start the day!

Eating properly starts even before you go outside, to start the day and keep it topped up throughout the day. Then when you’re outside take some snacks to treat yourself whilst you are walking.

What is your biggest struggle when you’re not feeling well? How does being outside improve your mental health? Let me know in the comments below.

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