Winter Fog by Stacey Repin

It’s OK to Slow Your Roll

Let’s face it. Technology is speeding up our lives. Our mobile phones are essentially extensions of ourselves, opening up more accessibility for communication than ever before. We are busy people, getting pinged all the time and with this accessibility and free-flowing information, it’s as if we are becoming machines – constantly juggling and running around just to keep up. This non-stop action makes many of us drained on the daily – mentally and physically. We are encouraged to conquer each day with a fury and our bucket lists continue to pile up.

Now and then, we want to escape to the wilderness – rekindle a connection with the ancient and organic for a body reboot. For some, exploring nature is like crushing ironman events. Climbing higher and higher peaks has become synonymous with our identity on the corporate ladder. We are pressured to achieve. How many steps have you put in today?

It may be difficult to do, but we desperately need to squeeze in the time to relax. Let’s add that to our daily bucket list. Every trainer or coach will tell you that recovery is just as important as the sweat and tears of the actual work, and should be treated as part of the training. Sprinting day and night will only lead to burn out. You’d be surprised at how relieving it is to let go. A mild walk in the woods (1-2 mph) can be refreshing. If you’re tired, stop yourself from propelling forward so quickly. BREATHE.

The notion of “Forest Bathing” or shinrin-yoku that originated among Japanese therapists in the 1980’s has quickly gained traction. The concept teaches us to fully immerse ourselves into our natural surroundings. What do you hear? Can you smell the leaves? What patterns do you see? Nature: It’s a beautiful thing.

Forest bathing also “trains” us to become more aware and in-tune with ourselves and others –  something practical we can use once we head back home to reality. You don’t need to huff and puff out in the woods at full capacity to gain health benefits.

According to recent research studies, a gentle walk for 2-4 hours boosts the body’s natural ability to fight cancer cells, reduces stress, boost energy and improve sleep. I’m not saying every hike should be this slow and methodical, but occasionally it’s good to add to your mix. It creates balance, grounding and fosters good health.

Next time you decide to go for a walk in the woods, the beach or the open fields and don’t feel like pushing it, it’s ok. Remember that you don’t need to conquer every inch of that trail  – it doesn’t have to be Manifest Destiny all the time. Take a walk with this perspective in mind and return home more human than machine.

About the Writer

Stacy Repin is a San Francisco native who works in the advertising industry. Landscape photography, writing and being outdoors are her passions. She contributes to nature-based outdoor networks and volunteers for park preserves in her spare time. You can check out some of her photography here.

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