The research is now overwhelming that getting out into nature has a multitude of benefits to the mind and the body. But finding the means to experience the great outdoors can be difficult, especially if you live in a big city.
Thankfully, there’s more awareness than ever before on the importance of one’s mental health but many of us, for one reason or another, are unable to heed the advice of an overwhelming number of experts. A hobby provides the perfect excuse to make time for ourselves and participate in an activity that will be rewarding in a variety of ways.
We explore some great examples of hobbies that will have you packing your bags and starting a long and healthy relationship with mother nature.
As a species we’ve always had a special relationship with the water – it’s been a source of food, and a means of transport and recreation for millennia. Many cultures still enjoy a symbiotic and spiritual connection to the waterways that they live in, but for those of us in the industrialised world, learning to sail is a fine way to rekindle that connection.
It might seem overwhelming at first, but you can learn the basics at your local sailing club. A small, two person boat with tiller steering can teach you the ropes. Once you’re familiar with the lingo and have the fundamentals down, you can start to graduate to larger vessels.
These kinds of skills come in especially handy when on holiday. Impress everyone in your group by chartering a catamaran or yacht and deftly plot a course from island to island. You’ll find there are still countless undiscovered locations, accessible only from the water so you can enjoy an exclusive itinerary away from the hubbub.
Popular destinations for your vacation on the waves are the Greek islands, the Croatian Dalmatian coast and Chesapeake Bay in North America. A company like Borrow A Boat also offers charters with captains if you’re not feeling truly seaworthy just yet.
They say, for good reason, that travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer. Seeing and experiencing other parts of the world is uniquely nourishing and helps combat the sometimes unavoidable monotony of familiarity at home.
The excitement begins in the planning stages and choosing which area you’d like most to visit. Factors include your budget, the time of year you intend to travel and how much time you can take off.
Flight price comparison sites like Skyscanner offer a feature where you can leave the destination and date fields blank and it will provide results of the most affordable countries to fly to from your homeland and for which months they are cheapest – a great way of generating some ideas if you’re lucky enough to have that kind of flexibility.
Double check the weather of the places on your shortlist and that it corresponds with your hopes and expectations; some warm countries experience surprisingly harsh winters and unbearably hot summer months.
Comparing the exotic flora and fauna to what you are used to back home is an exciting part of any adventure for an outdoors enthusiast. Don’t forget your camera to capture all those memories – flick through your snaps and be instantly transported back to paradise.
You don’t even need to board a plane to uncover new experiences in nature. The word ‘staycation’ has found vogue in recent years and it’s true, there’s often a wealth of natural beauty right on our doorstep.
If you’re a hiking novice, it’s a good idea to start well within your comfort zone. Find a list of local trails that have frequent pit stops (or coffee shops) along the way to refill your canteen and get a bite to eat.
For those delving into the world of hiking, there’s a wealth of information available, especially on YouTube, including the equipment you’ll need and tips on staying safe and respectful in nature. If you really get a taste for it, you might consider upgrading your experience to include wild camping.
The laws around camping differ largely across different countries so there will inevitably be a further level of planning necessary to ensure you’re not trespassing or breaking any laws but once you find some camp friendly spots you’ll see how waking up in nature puts us in touch with a primitive connection to the outdoors.
There’s only so far our feet can carry us and if we want to really hit the open road, four wheels are sometimes the best option. The popularity of camper vans is on the rise as the trend to go back to basics (without sacrificing too much comfort) continues.
The most dedicated nomads among us will even undertake the conversion of their own van to their exacting specifications before hitting the tarmac and seeing where their journey takes them. There’s no limit on where you can travel to as you plot a course across the continent.
It might not come as a surprise to many of us how important nature is to our emotional wellbeing. Try your hand at one of the hobbies featured to reap the many benefits the great outdoors has in store for us.