When you think of ‘green time’, what thoughts come to mind? Are you drawn to the colour green in your mind? Are you seduced by the view of your garden through a window or a forest from a bus? Or, do you feel a compelling urge to reach for colouring pencils or a paint brush? For me, green time is the important ritual of listening to myself then searching for the green, mindfully, that exists beyond the comforts of the indoors. Then, how do I fit it in to my life?
Start by shouting a resounding ‘NO’!
Being trapped indoors, gripped by daily deadlines, demanding bouts of screen time or being bombarded by the demands of daily life all drain my energy reserves eventually. The opportunity to refuel each day can sometimes slip away from me. So, there are times when I have to stamp my foot down and shout a resounding ‘NO’ when demands become too demanding. For me, saying ‘no’ is what I’ve discovered to be as saying ‘YES’ to myself. What good am I to my writing, my work, family and friends if I’m not functioning well? That’s when my ‘green time’ starts. The skill is to know when you need to say ‘no’. Learn to listen to your inner voice. What is it saying to you about your inner state? Do you need a break? Do you need to recuperate?
Switch off and tune in with the within
It seems almost impossible in this life to switch off. Notice, I said ‘almost’? Start with your conscious ability to switch off like switching off that phone, tablet, laptop and PC. Have you ever gone out for a few hours without your phone? I recommend you try it. Then, choose how you’re going to spend those couple of hours – device-free.
Choose an outdoor activity that’s right for you
My easiest go-to activity is walking. Walking has been my foundation exercise for years, even during the hardest times in my life when I could barely walk due to exhaustion, sickness, or chronic stress. No matter how far I walked during those times, I realised that my energy was gaining on me step by step. I was breathing in pure, fresh air, the momentum of my stride made me feel I was in flow and my surroundings rejuvenated me. I’m grateful that I have a gorgeous view of the Dandenong Ranges at the top of my street – the pinnacle of my daily walks.
Now, much stronger and energised and feeling the most alive I have ever been, I’m considering running. For now, long-distance walking and newfound yoga classes are further increasing my strengths in which to try running. Is walking your thing too? You can also mix it up with a walk with a friend, changing the location of your walk or going for an extended walk in nature that will take you a couple of hours.
Take advantage of long weekends and annual leave by travelling
Long weekends and annual leave are your tickets to holiday time. Choose a destination you always wanted to visit and book it! Or, start a savings fund in order to pay for your break away. Before you leave, research the activities you want to engage in – walking trails, day-trips to a forest, beach or local national parks, or even exploring local restaurants to try vegan, plant-based food. If you like to volunteer is there a reputable animal sanctuary where you can dedicate some of your time while embracing your love of animals and nature? Or, is there a goal you wish to achieve? For me, this came as a hike over four days in Tasmania earlier this year.
Your green time is in your hands. All it starts with is a ‘no’ to your demanding world, then a ‘yes’ to yourself. Only then, you can embrace your inner yes to leverage your chances at green time. If anything, consider it as a basic, primal need to your survival.
How do you fit the green time you need into your life? I'd love to hear about how you achieve your time back to nature, or the rituals of which you abide by. I'd love to hear your stories about how you say no, then yes, too!
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