Until recently I was an excessively busy freelance copywriter and a student. It’s probably worth noting that I am also a parent, partner, cat parent, and supreme dawdler. None of my self-appointed roles allow for a calm lifestyle, which is why I occasionally try to relax outdoors.
As a copywriter in the UK, opportunities to relax outdoors without increasing my risk of frostbite are few and far between. Recently we’ve experienced a headline-generating heat wave in Wales, which means I’ve had more chances to enjoy fresh air in a bid to switch off my overly busy brain.
If the idea of relaxing outside appeals to your usually chaotic self, here are some of the ways I love to do so:
Relax outdoors free from the constraints of technology
When it comes to analysing the impact of technology on wellbeing, there’s usually two camps. The first decries the use of technology due to its potential to reduce in-person interactions and the way social media sites impart unrealistic views of daily life on our fragile brains. The other praises the way technology has made commerce easier for people of all backgrounds and its ability to introduce us to new worlds.
Like everything, technology use is both good and bad. If you do spend most of your waking hours glued to Snapchat and Instagram in a bid to glimpse into the lives of your favourite celebrities, then yes you’re taking an unhealthy approach. On the other hand, reading blog posts from those who inhabit other cultures is excellent for expanding your worldview. In either case, technology isn’t really conducive to relaxation. If your phone is within easy reach you’ll probably itch to grab it and flick through some feed or another while you try to relax outdoors.
My way of offsetting this is neither ingenious nor controversial: when I drive to my favourite outdoor space I leave my phone in the boot. When I’m no longer within five seconds of scrolling through Victoria Beckham’s Instagram feed I do some of my best thinking.
Try to relax outdoors with your favourite guided meditation track
If you’re not yet at the stage where sitting with your own thoughts produces the best outcomes, give guided meditation a whirl. App stores are overflowing with excellent guided meditation tools. The one I allocate to the few minutes a day I spend saving my own sanity is Simple Habit.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that meditation reduces anxiety. Even if you’re not an anxiety sufferer, the chances are you have encountered an anxious state at one point or another in your existence. As such, you’ll already know that anxious thoughts operate in a tornado-like spiral, leaving you unable to focus on anything else.
As a form of anxiety prophylaxis, mindfulness isn’t just something you should do as you attempt to relax outdoors. Dedicating at least five minutes to it at the beginning of the day can enhance your attention, promote a greater sense of self-worth, and reduce negative feelings such as anger. If you’re finding that your work as a copywriter is difficult due to the negative emotions that worm their way into your mind each day, give meditation a good chance. It may not tackle your problems in their entirety, but it can deliver the focus that makes it easier to face them.
Engage in a little mindfulness while you absorb the world around you
Let’s say you’re going to relax outdoors every single day. If that’s the case, guided meditation alone might prove a little boring. So, why not shake things up a little by walking yourself through mindfulness techniques?
Despite what you may have heard, mindfulness really is quite simple. Although it’s still a topic that’s worthy of all the thousands of pages experts dedicate to it, you can try it without obtaining a diploma or opting for accredited training. The most basic approaches to mindfulness involve grounding yourself in the moment. Practicing them outdoors where you’re free of distractions helps you to refine your mindfulness skills. If you later face stressful or anxiety-inducing situations, you can return to your mindfulness techniques and pull yourself back into the moment.
When I visit the beach for a time-out session, I focus on what I can see, smell, and hear. While the senses I absorb don’t vary wildly between sessions, their subtle differences do allow me to fine-tune my mindfulness approaches.
As you relax outdoors, try to list:
- Three things you can see; They can be items, colours, aspects of nature, or events.
- Three things you can smell; They don’t have to be delightful smells, they just have to be there.
- Three things you can hear; Even if you’re entering this practice thinking you can hear one thing and one thing only, you’ll soon find that lots of noises are penetrating your mind.
It’s always worth closing each mindfulness session with a gentle reminder that, in this particular moment, you are safe. Again, you can return to that assurance when sensations such as panic are getting the better of you.
Break out an actual pen and actual paper then write stuff down
Are you the type of copywriter who rarely reaches for a real pen and actual paper? I’m right there with you. Occasionally I try to make the old-fashioned art of writing a little more alluring by purchasing a pretty Laura Ashley pen and a glitzy notebook. For a short while I’ll use both for to-do lists I won’t complete. In reality, I’m probably better off enjoying a spout of freewriting.
Freewriting is the pleasant art of dumping all of your busy thoughts onto a piece of paper. Whether you scrunch said piece of paper up afterward, burn it, or keep it is up to you. But, I will highly recommend that you relax outdoors by taking pen to paper and writing down every one of your feelings, worries, and solutions for ten minutes straight.
During that wonderful ten minutes, you’ll likely generate ideas you never knew existed. You’ll dig up and toss out feelings you don’t want to acknowledge. Maybe, you’ll even unearth some hidden desires that will bring new layers of meaning to your life. Once they’ve left your brain and entered the physical world, you’ll have made room for happier thoughts and new learning experiences.
Produce a chillout soundtrack in advance and relax outdoors while listening to it
Every time you dedicate focus to a task when you’re working as a copywriter, you need a little dose of dopamine. In simple terms, the dopamine in your brain helps to produce pleasurable sensations in your reward centre. When you’re working it allows you to see the rewards that come with completing tasks and gives you the motivation to shift items off your to-do list.
There are lots of ways to produce more dopamine. From cold showers through to eating the right foods, some are more enjoyable than others. There’s a strong body of evidence supporting the idea that listening to new music provides a dopamine boost.
Before relaxing outdoors, create a soundtrack that’s packed with soothing tunes you haven’t heard before. You don’t need to plow a lot of thought into this process; instead just search for ‘relaxation music,’ ‘energy yoga tracks,’ or ‘classical music’ on Spotify, download, and go for a stroll.
To spice up your outdoor activities, don’t shy away from venturing to a new place, stepping outside in cold weather, or even going for a stroll in the rain. Providing your clothes are weather-appropriate, there’s no excuse to avoid the benefits that come with submerging yourself in a little sunlight and fresh air.