Athena Mellor is an adventure lover and explorer at heart, inspired by the simplicity of nature and earth in its purest form. After finding some lovely reads on her Wild and Words blog, we invited her to share her passion for the natural world by writing for us. Be inspired by Athena’s top 5 ways to feel good outdoors…
It’s 5.30 in the morning and I’m stomping up a rocky path with a bitter cold wind stinging my face and hands; hiking boots laced on my feet and a flask of hot coffee tucked inside my backpack. As I approach the summit, the sky is aflame with one thousand shades of orange, pink, red and purple. The cold in my hands is suddenly forgotten as I dance those last few steps, a smile beaming on my face — gazing, bewilderedly, at the view before my eyes. For me, this moment right here is the purest form of feeling good.
I am an outdoor writer, photographer and blogger; passionate about adventures in the wild, protecting nature, and sharing stories from the great outdoors through photos and words. Going outside, for me, has always been synonymous with health and happiness, and I try to inspire others to get outdoors in whatever means they can; whether it be hiking a mountain at dawn, swimming in a wild lake, wrapping up your lunch and taking it into a local woodland, or sleeping on a hillside beneath a million stars.
Here are five simple ways that you too can feel good outdoors…
1. Take your morning coffee to the great outdoors
One of my favourite things to do in the morning is enjoy a hot brew outside amongst nature. Whether it be a mug of steaming coffee in the garden, or a flask of milky tea overlooking the ocean. Mornings are the perfect time to get outside; setting you up for the day with nature’s calmness and purity at the very start of it.
2. Walk through a pine forest after rainfall
Have you ever smelt a pine forest after rainfall? It leaves the most wonderful aroma all around, and wandering a woodland after a rainy day has to be one of my favourite things to do in nature. Take it slow and appreciate all the little parts of the forest that seem to glow after rainfall: mossy logs and sodden leaves, raindrops on pine needles and muddy puddles on forest tracks.
3. Wild swim in a cold lake
Swimming in a freezing cold natural lake might not sound like the most appealing way to feel good… But let me assure you that when you emerge from the water with goosebumps covering your skin, you will feel a sort of euphoria and refreshment that fills your body with warmth. Cold water swimming has actually been diagnosed as an effective way of treating depression; reducing chronic stress and leaving a feeling of elation and calm after it. Find a lake, river or waterfall near you, and why not take a dip?
4. Hike a local peak at sunrise
Greet the sun as it makes its first appearance for the day atop a hill at sunrise. This is something I love to do as autumn becomes winter, when the colder temperatures provide stunning colours in both the sun and the landscape. You don’t have to travel far – simply find a local hill and ramble to the top at dawn, breathing in the cold air and admiring the variety of colours and textures that surround you. A morning on a hilltop is an ideal way to ready yourself for the day, with those memories of sunrise always in your mind.
5. Sleep beneath the stars
Seeing the night sky has to be one of the most humbling experiences in the great outdoors. On a clear night, watch as specks of stardust glow above you; a trillion tiny stars that make up the Milky Way. I have always loved camping – summer or winter – as I think sleeping outside can make you feel so present in the outdoors and respectful of nature. So pack a rucksack with a tent – or even drag your duvet into the garden – and feel that goodness of stepping back to basics and sleeping beneath the stars.
Getting outside doesn’t have to mean climbing a mountain, hiking eight hours, or battling arctic winds and knee-deep snow. It can be as simple as stepping into the garden, a local woodland or a nearby hill. Even the smallest exposure to the great outdoors can make you feel good, so take time to appreciate nature every day – even for only 10 minutes – and you will surely feel better for it.