“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. Awakening from the stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying as best they can to mix and enrich their own little ongoings with those of Nature, and to get rid of rust and disease.”― John Muir, Our National Parks
I am the original “Outside-In” guy. Most people throughout my life associate me with the outdoors. Nine times out of ten, I would rather be outside than behind four walls.
I have a group of backpacking friends – we’re in our fifties and sixties and proudly call ourselves “the misfits”. Funny enough, many people hear my name and mistake me for Chris Burkard, the landscape and travel photographer. Plenty of people send me comments intended for him as he takes pictures from the top of his land cruiser in Iceland or treks across active volcanoes. While you won’t catch me ice surfing anytime soon, I am a mountain man at heart.
Yet, I did find myself in an uncomfortable situation last April on the AT in Georgia – for once, I almost couldn’t finish the 55 mile hike. Everything just hurt in a new way. I wasn’t mentally prepared for this wake up call and what it meant.
I came home from the trip sore, bruised, both my body and my ego, knowing I needed to work on myself – and find new answers to maintaining the passions I had been holding on to. Last year, I had to face the reality that I no longer could pretend or “fake my way” through the toughest of days.
As I reflect on the months since my trip, I realize that they’ve generally been filled with stress – so much so that they manifested in physical symptoms. I have lost friends and have had health challenges within my closest family circle and generally have been in a fog for months. My mentor often says that everyone we meet will have “life stuff” going on every day. For some of you, it may be new health challenges, or maybe relationship woes. Or, for others, one of the greatest hits of all, money, finances, debt, paying for a life well lived. We all have “stuff”, and my stuff is not more important than yours. I simply want to talk about how I am learning to deal with my stress and health challenges and perhaps, from my story, you can help yourself, too.
I have talked before about having Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I am lucky that I have a mild case, currently. All my major joints hurt and swell from time to time, and sometimes, the fatigue hits me like a seismic shock. For most of my life I was referred to as the energizer bunny – I would perk up at the mere mention of a new adventure and never turned down a trip – but the last few years have just felt – different.
We all have triggers. My RA flares up with certain foods, from a stressful event in work, or anything that creates duress for my mind and body. I do not want sympathy, believe me. I still walk the pups, Ziggy and Gracie, every morning. I work out three times a week, and can generally still rally for what the day requires.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going – right? At least, that’s what I always thought. When you’re faced with a challenge, you buckle down and work harder and longer. Hell, we’ve even inspired this mentality at Outside Insights a time or two.
All that holds value, but here’s the thing – we’re all human, and humans need a break.
So, how do we deal with the chronic stress that is keeping our body in constant fight or flight and stopping us from reaching our full potential every day? How do we heal? How do we rest and recover and not just tough it out?
I am a leader, an entrepreneur, a father and a husband. For years I believed I simply needed to persevere – until I couldn’t anymore.
One day, I discovered and really explored the concept of self-care. The term sounds pretty cheap and flimsy, right? Like something “extra” that nobody really has time for. What I’ve come to learn is that even if you don’t make time for the little thing called self-care – your mind and body will force you to within time.
Self-care is how we recover and repair our bodies and minds and heal ourselves – and it looks a little different for everyone. Here’s how I practice self-care:
For me, self-care looks like meditation, yoga, journaling, active stretching, working out and reading.
It’s honoring my time outside, not as a “nice” to have but as my personal form of worship. It’s healing my body in the sauna and hot tubs and investing in massage therapy.
It’s the “simple things” that oftentimes seem impossible in our fast paced world – like getting enough sleep or eating whole foods. Hell, even drinking enough water.
Self-care is exploring and fostering hobbies that fill your tank and not necessarily your pockets.
Self-care is taking the time to reacquaint yourself with the body you’ve known for years as you strive to understand what it’s telling you in the form of aches and pains.
Self-care is realizing that while the actions mentioned above seem simple enough – most of us don’t honor our minds and bodies enough to actually do them.
Self-care is understanding that something needs to change and taking the hard steps to make change happen. It’s committing to showing up for yourself, everyday.
You only have one body and our minds require just as much nourishment – take care of yourself today if you want to continue to look forward to tomorrow.
Hope you get something from my self care plan. My friend and coach Amy Osik helped me figure it out! I could not have done it without you! Need fitness help reach Amy here.
Have you had a similar wake up call that reframed how you prioritize self-care? What inspired this epiphany and how have you changed since? Reply back and let me know.
Until next time, friends, and my group of traveling “misfits”.
If you enjoyed this article, I recommend reading these past Outside Insights posts:
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