Backpacking and self care and regulation?
I went for my first snowshoe backpacking trip outside of Prince George last month! I learnt more than I thought I would.
I realized back country camping / backpacking is the ultimate practice of self care and self regualtion! I was constantly checking in on how was my experience. Where was my mind? How much fun was I having? How are my muscles? I was checking in with all of my senses, especially interoception- "the 8th" sense that receives information from our internal organs (heart beat, breathing, hunger, emotions), temperature, pain and more from inside our bodies!
Self regulation - checking in to your body , heart and mind
The conversation in my head and with my backpacking buddies sounded a bit like this:
- Temperature? Put on a shell
- Oh wow nature is pretty
- Hungry?- we just started maybe I should wait a few minutes
- Look at that neat rock feature
- Is that a blister starting?
- Clouds are moving in- it got dark
- Moss!!!! look at all the moss!
- Temperature? maybe I'll keep the puffy coat and up my toque to the warmer one
- Tighten that top back pack strap- oh that was loose, so much better
- Wow look at the snow coming down
- Watch your footing!!
- How wet are my toes?
- SNOW!!!!! can you see the snow?
- Hey no toe blisters yet!
- Wow did you hear that?
- Are you cold?
- Scat... how fresh is that?
- Is this the turn off? Who has the map?
- WOW look at that tree!
- The sun is coming out! take off a layer
- How are my legs doing? Back? so far feeling strong
**Repeat for next 4 hours.
Self care before an adventure
Another aspect of practicing self care was preparing for the adventure. This is sometimes the boring or hardest part of self care . I had to ask myself 3 questions:
- What am I looking forward to? Why am I doing all this work
- What do I need? Safety, comfort, fun
- What can I leave behind? When carrying a backpack you don't want to haul anything unnecessary
This was so simple and so helpful. I started thinking about how I could use these questions in more everyday events. Here's an example of how you can use these 3 questions to make room for self care and regulate your body and emotions before a morning meeting!
Using what I learnt playing outside
What am I looking forward to:
during this meeting that I usually dread
Making connections, problem solving with others, getting answers, seeing my work bestie!
What do I need:
to be the kind, team player, version of myself
- 3 minutes of mindfulness
- A good breakfast
- A solid outfit
What can I leave behind:
What is not really helpful or absolutely necessary
- Staying up late the night before
- Avoiding laundry after work
- The breakfast option that tastes god but doesn't fuel me
I will continue to reflect on the self care wins during my future backpacking and outdoor pursuits. I'm also excited to try out these 3 questions when my self care activities are in my schedule as often as they should be. I'd love to hear about your self care wins or 'ultimate experiences of self care"