By: Daria Holler
Being in the great outdoors can bring healing on many different levels. It can bring mental healing, spiritual healing and even physical healing to some degrees. Whether it is sitting on the porch, going for a walk, a vigorous hike, multi day backpacking or ascending to a very high peak. All of these outdoor activities can bring a sense of healing to you.
However, there are many instances in which the outdoors can hinder or hurt you if you do not plan accordingly and prepare yourself for the elements of these wild places. Regardless of activity you should always plan ahead and prepare. Perhaps not as intensively for sitting on the porch but to think ahead creates less work and possible complications later. Whether it is on the trip or years down the road in life. Caring and planning for yourself, self care is one of the most important things you can possible do.
So what is it we are getting at? Protect yourself!
What’s Killing you?
Any season of the year can kill you in some way it’s just a matter of time and exposure. Too hot with not enough water, skin protection or food to sustain you as your body is in motion.
Sun, heat, Cold, snow, wind, lack of layers, lack of food, lack of water, lack of proper foot protection.
How can you best plan for your next outing?
Be sure to pack your 3 essentials: Water, Rain gear, Sunscreen
You will always need water, you will never be able to full predict the elements you will be entering into and the weather it may bring. When planning for a day or a 14 day journey you should always plan ahead and prepare. This is deemed principle number 1 in Leave No Trace. More importantly if you don’t plan ahead and prepare for what could or WILL happen, the intentionality of self care is neglected.
Many have stepped out into the sunshine after a long winter or time in doors. The sunshine feels so great! Getting that Vitamin D that your body has been craving like it’s your job! Maybe you fall asleep or you push yourself harder because you feel good. You return home or simply come back inside and you realize you have a headache, you feel weak or your skin hurts to the touch.
Dehydration and exposure can deplete your body over time. Especially if you are on a multi-day hike or camping. The over exposure that first day or first couple of days while your body is adapting to trail life can cause your body to work harder than it would need to if you put on sunscreen and kept a conscious eye on your fluid intake to be sure all that your sweating or exercising out, you are replacing at the same time.
Some common overlooks:
Re-applying sunscreen often
Changing out of your sweaty layer after a hard day on the trail
Preemptively putting on additional layers when temperature begins to drop.
Wearing TOO many layers while sleeping (this causes prevention of body heat warming your sleeping bag)
Intentionally drinking water while moving or during short breaks.
Tending to blisters (instead of grinding it out)
On many occasions in extreme hot environments, it is easy to forget self care in this way because you are concentrating on getting through the elevation gain, loss or simply working hard to get to your destination. The same goes for extreme cold conditions. If you aren’t being conscious and listening to what your body needs it can put you and possibly others on your team in danger of exposure or possibly falling behind on itinerary.
When you Plan ahead and take care of yourself, the overall experience and impact of the journey you’re on is all the more spiritually, mentally and even physically healing. Be kind to yourself.
If you’re interested to see in more detail what extreme conditions and poor planning consequences can bring. Check out the American Alpine Club (AAC) for some accident reports that include what happened and what caused said incidents.