Getting outdoors is a part of who I am as a person. It’s been a benefit to my mental well-being and physical well-being for most of my adult life. Having a child was not going to compromise that. With that said, I still had doubts about my own ability to get my baby outdoors as often as I did in my “life before baby.” However, like anything in life, with practice and consistency things fall into place. I’ve found that getting outdoors with my baby has been different than it was before but it’s reminded me that as parents, we need to stand our ground and keep our mental well-being in check. I am not a medical professional but rather this is written as my own experiences in the outdoors and the benefits it’s had on my life.
Maybe you’ve heard of the term “forest bathing” which refers to the simple act of walking in any natural environment and consciously connecting with what’s around you. In my experience especially as a parent, the natural environment doesn’t need to be a big planned-out endeavor into a deep forest. That’s the whole point, it can be so much simpler than people think. It can be a park, a garden, a lake, any outdoor space that is natural. Forest bathing is all about connecting with the natural environment. I like to achieve connection with my natural environment by using my senses. I’ve found that getting outdoors, especially with a baby, is more of an experience rather than a big destination. Rather notice the sensations the outdoors brings. Having a child has changed my relationship with the outdoors to be more of an experience rather than a destination and that is exactly what matters. It’s about the experience you bring and that will in the long run enhance your mental well being.
I remember the first time I got outdoors postpartum. It was day 3 of taking the baby home. Prior to that, I had been mostly sitting on the couch for 3 days with the baby on my breast. Prior to sitting at home I was in a hospital room with bright lights, and couldn’t physically move much due to COVID rules and regulations. We were trapped in a room. With that said I felt sluggish and drained from all of the sitting, bright lights, and lack of fresh air. Although pushing a baby out of your body is some of the most physically draining work my body has ever done, it was no substitute for the mental benefits the outdoors has to offer. I was craving outdoors SO bad. When I did get outside on day 3 I felt so free and rejuvenated and all I did was go around the block to our local park. I f you are a tired, drained, parent I suggest you try forest bathing. All you need to do is put the baby in a stolller or pack and get outside.
Just a few moments spent outside can have a great impact. I make it an intention to get outside every day and the benefits I’ve experienced have been greatly impactful. A few thoughts of my experiences…
*I feel like I am thriving to be my best self when I spend time outside.
*I feel the fresh air on my face and it acts as a reminder there is so much more out there than just life beyone of our homes.
*I listen to the crunch of the snow under my feet and it brings a reminder that the life is ever changing just like the seasons are ever changing.
*I see the trees blowing, snow falling, and animal prints and it reminds me that there is a circle of life and we are just a tiny part of it.
*I see my baby fall asleep in the stroller or in the pack and benefit from the fresh air.
To wrap it all up, remember you don’t really need a big endeavor. In fact you don’t even need to leave your home. If you have outdoor space where you live, take advantage of the outdoors! We were trying to bottle train Rory from an early age because we wanted him to get used to bottles and the breasts for my own sanity. It was a challenge but being outside made it less stressful. Just getting yourself and baby outside could have a big impact. Try it out and see if it makes a difference in your mood.
A little About the creator of Hiking Thru Life :
Sarah started the “parenting” portion of Hiking Thru Life shortly after her son, Rory was born in October of 2020. Blog posts and conversations on the Hiking Thru Life podcast with like minded outdoor families are created as navigates the challenges and growths of parenthood. Sarah has a podcast along with her husband Andy called “Hiking Thru Life.” Together they started Hiking Thru Life as a way to inspire others to get outdoors after realizing all of the benefits it’s had on their own lifestyle.You can find out more and follow the journey at parenting.hikingthrulife.net
Categories: mental health