Backpacking -Practicing self care and regulation

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.

Self Care Back Packing

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:

  1. Temperature? Put on a shell
  2. Oh wow nature is pretty
  3. Hungry?- we just started maybe I should wait a few minutes
  4. Look at that neat rock feature
  5. Is that a blister starting?
  6. Clouds are moving in- it got dark
  7. Moss!!!! look at all the moss!
  8. Temperature?  maybe I'll keep the puffy coat and up my toque to the warmer one
  9. Tighten that top back pack strap- oh that was loose, so much better
  10. Wow look at the snow coming down
  11. Watch your footing!!
  12. Waterfall!!
  13. How wet are my toes?
  14. SNOW!!!!! can you see the snow?
  15. Hey no toe blisters yet!
  16. Wow did you hear that?
  17. Are you cold?
  18. Scat... how fresh is that?
  19. Is this the turn off? Who has the map?
  20. WOW look at that tree!
  21. The sun is coming out! take off a layer
  22. How are my legs doing? Back? so far feeling strong

**Repeat for next 4 hours.

Self care before an adventure

backpacking self care

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!

Back Packing self Care

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

  • Coffee!
  • 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"

About Jen Taubensee

Jen Taubensee is an Occupational Therapist focus on family wellness. Her coaching helps kids and parents develop the skills to thrive in their everyday lives and have more fun doing the things that matter to them! She has had the opportunity to walk alongside families and children who expereince brain injury, concussion, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, mental health challenges (anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, schizophrenia), social struggles, behavioural issues, developmental delays, learning delays and those who are looking to have more fun everyday! Jen loves supporting families with strategies to support emotional regulation, behaviour management, connection, executive functioning, positive parenting, toileting, (not so picky) eating, sleep, healthy and happy routines, fine and gross motor development and PLAY! Reach your goals with OT Jen's creative, fun and meaningful strategies.

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