Image description: A landscape format image. Fay and Matt sit on a rock eating their lunch from 12oz and 20oz Hydro Flask Insulated Food Jars. Their backpacks are at their feet, with various other Hydro Flask bottles in the side pouches and there is a large hill in the background.
For this article, we’ve partnered with one of our favourite brands – Hydro Flask. We’ve used their high-performance insulated products for years now in the outdoors, at home, anywhere really! Their bottles and flasks keep our drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 12 through winter and summer (and everything in between) and the food jars will keep our food hot or cold for hours at a time. Sometimes having that warm comforting meal before a wild camp or that steaming hot flask of coffee after a wild swim can make all the difference to feeling supported and confident outdoors. Aside from that, we love the brand’s ethos on sustainability – helping us reduce our carbon footprint and reducing single use plastics which are harmful to the environment. They also have an incredible charitable giving program Parks For All, which supports the development, maintenance, and accessibility of public green spaces so that people everywhere can live healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives. So, when it comes to encouraging you to explore your happy, for us, they’re the perfect companion to support you along the way. Our favourite products are continually the iconic 32oz Wide Mouth bottles (purchasable from Absolute Snow) which we carry on pretty much every hike we go on. We also love the Insulated Food Jars (purchasable from Absolute Snow) which have become a staple in the kit we choose to bring – having a warm meal on a hike just makes us feel great. For this this trip, we prepared a vegan sausage and broccoli alfredo pasta that kept our tummies happy for hours!
We’re in a position right now where things seem to be moving forward in a much more positive way than they have since the early stages of 2020. Within that comes a returning sense of freedom – and however that feels to you, one thing that many of us have been questioning is if there are any adjustments we want to make, if possible, to our lived experience.
Something that seems to be apparent amongst so many people is the idea of becoming curious and exploring things and seeing how they feel for us again. This was such a big part of our lived experience before but feels almost alien to us as we start to restore those freedoms. When you’ve had something removed from your reality for a long time, it can feel almost strange to be able to make those choices again, and this can leave you nervous or with a sense of FOMO if you don’t make the ‘right choice’.
This seems never truer than with regards to our experiences in the outdoors and within nature. You’ve got two common threads meeting in the middle (and a whole lot more) – you might be someone who was massively into adventure before the pandemic but aren’t quite sure what you want to do or where you stand with your interests as much now. Or you could be someone who discovered just how important developing a connection with nature has been to you in this time, and within this, you may have started to get a sense that you want to continue this further, but you don’t quite know how and in what capacity.
Image descriptions – from left to right: 01: A portrait format image. Having been for a wild swim, Fay sits by the side of a mountain pool wrapped in a large towel. Fay is holding a 12oz Hydro Flask Coffee flask, filled with a warming drink. There is a hill and cold, grey sky in the background.02: A landscape format image. Fay is wearing a swim suit and is stood in a mountain pool having just been wild swimming. There is a waterfall and a mountain in the background.
It’s pretty natural, though. Navigating and finding your happy where you are right now, even though the sheer nature of using that word ‘happy’ might make you think it should be exciting and enriching, can feel utterly daunting. There’s the wondering if you’ll like something or wondering if you’ll still have the fitness to do something. There can be this thought of ‘will this still feel good for me?’ There can also be the ‘what if I don’t like that?’ anxiety. For us, there has absolutely been the worry that a lot of the good work we did outdoors before for our fitness won’t still be there – or wondering if we’ll enjoy certain things as much as we did. In some ways, it almost feels like starting from scratch again. However, this gives us a great opportunity. It allows us to come at things with fresher eyes, it allows us the context of our experience to see where we are at, meet ourselves there and explore as if this is a new thing. Within that, we have the opportunity to explore new things that we may not have done before because we’re not stuck in a pattern.
So how do you start to explore your happy place when it comes to time spent in nature? Especially if you’re new to this or feeling a bit lost and don’t really know where to start? Below are five action points to help get you started with exploring your happy outdoors again.
Be curious and explore
Having the option to be curious and explore different things is probably one of the best parts of getting into (or back into) adventure and time spent in nature. You get to see if all these different things are a good fit – and you get to see where they lead. There is something about this that feels almost like it’s filled with childlike wonder. You get to write your own story. If that sounds kind of daunting, take it gently and slowly. Going on adventures where you meet yourself where you are, without judgement, will allow you to really see what it is that interests you. Exploring your interests through books, documentaries, talking to others and being outdoors itself can really help you get curious about what you want to do and get inspired.
One thing leads to another
One of the best things about gently exploring what it that lights you up and brings you joy is exploring how one thing can lead to another. One of the things that led to us hiking in the first place was getting into gardening. We started visiting country gardens, which turned into a curiosity to explore the surrounding hikes, to then where we are today. You really do have no idea what might spark an interest in you – so try to develop your intuition a little bit around what feels good for you. It doesn’t have to look a certain way. There are so many ways to get to one point – there is no right or wrong way to get ‘there’.
Image description – from left to right: 01: A landscape format image. Fay sits at a picnic table whilst holding a 16oz Hydro Flask Tumbler. It’s a sunny day. There are pine trees and a mountain in the far distance.02: A landscape image. Matt stands with back to the camera looking out at a glacial, mountain lake. The mountains in front of him seem to form an arena. The sky is dull and the day is overcast. He wears black coat, black trousers and a backpack which has a 40z Hydro Flask Wide Mouth bottle in camera right hand side pocket.
Work with where you are
If you’ve been on a lengthy hiatus from connective outdoors experiences, you might be wondering if you are going to have the stamina to handle something. Or you might be new to this and feel daunted with a certain idea. It can be easy when this is the case to compare yourself to where you were, where you want to be, or others. This comparison and wanting desperately to be somewhere other than where you are is only going to strip away a good bit of the joy you’re trying to find. Trying to meet yourself where you are will allow you to develop the building blocks to what it is you want in a much more kind and gentle way. Being gentle and working with where you are will also allow you to explore your happy in a much more inquisitive way. Remember, we’re not going for perfection here – we’re going for something that feels right for you.
Try it once and be realistic
When we start to realise some of the things we might want to give a try, we often seem to get into this pattern of becoming very totemic with them. We wonder what will happen if we don’t enjoy something and forget that one of the main things that can happen if we don’t enjoy something is that we can choose to say no to doing it again. When Fay started wild swimming, there was often this feeling of ‘what if I don’t like it’ and it can really take some reconditioning to realise that, in that circumstance for example, the solution would simply to be to get out of the water! If this is something you’ve noticed is bothering you, try to start small. If going on a huge trek is something that makes you question if you’ll enjoy it, start with something that is smaller, more manageable and allows you the option to say no if you don’t actually enjoy it.
Focus on the emotions
When you’re exploring your happy and looking at what it is that lights you up and makes you feel good in nature and the outdoors, try to get really acquainted with how you feel. If something doesn’t make you feel great, analyze why that was. Was there something that could be changed next time to make that feel better for you? If you really enjoyed something, what was it about it? Connecting to how we feel about the different things we’re exploring can really help us to make decisions about what’s next or where we want to head and can help us feel a lot more in control of our experience.
Image descriptions – from left to right: 1: A landscape format image. Matt walks away from the camera. A 40oz Hydro Flask Wide Mouth bottle swings from his hand. There are rolling green hills in the background.2: A landscape format image. Fay takes a drink from a 21oz Hydro Flask Standard Mouth bottle, fitted with the Sport Cap. It’s a sunny day and there are rolling green hills in the background.