Is this the year you plan to live a life more wild? If you’d love to be more adventurous in 2022 but aren’t sure where to start, read on – here are seven achievable ways to get outside, get exploring and feel fitter and happier.
Seven ways to live more adventurously in 2022
Climb a mountain
In a complicated world, the challenge of climbing a mountain is a reassuringly simple one. Find mountain. Climb mountain. Stand tall on its summit and feel an enveloping sense of achievement. It doesn’t matter if it’s an easy scramble to the top or not – conquering a mountain and gaining the panoramic view of a wild landscape from the top always lifts the heart and helps to shed your worries. There are mountains of all shapes and sizes to set your sights on (a mountain is usually a peak of 300 metres of more), from beginner-friendly rambles in the UK, such as the Sugar Loaf in Wales or Catbells in the Lake District, to big multi-day summit challenges such as Mount Toubkal in Morocco.
The best resolution I’ve ever made was to be brave and try exploring on my own. It’s a big step out of your confidence zone to book a ticket or plan a hike for one, but I promise it’s worth trying. Solo adventures (and that could be a round-the-world trip or just a night camping) give you time and space to reconnect with how you’re feeling, to see amazing new places at your own pace, and to find joy and peace in learning to spend quality time with yourself. Not sure about a big trip on your lonesome? How about booking just a long weekend away or planning a day-long solo cycle?
In 2020, the average adult in the UK spent over six hours a day staring at a screen. Most of us (including me!) have to work on computers and laptops for a living – which is why I think it’s even more important to leave technology behind when you do get a chance to take a break. Going off-grid, even just for a day or a weekend, is brilliant for re-setting your mood, focusing on deep thinking, and leaving behind the endlessly distracting ‘pings’ of social media and work emails. You could simply leave your phone at home and go for a long walk, but I love to head to a campsite or a cottage with no phone signal for the weekend to force myself to relax and feel more mindful.
Swim yourself fit
Fancy adding something new to your workout routine? Swimming is utterly amazing for getting fit – it puts no pressure on your bones and muscles, yet still builds up strength and improves cardiovascular (that’s your heart) fitness really efficiently. But don’t stick to the safety of chlorinated water – outdoor swimming is a very different, and really magical, way to keep fit and get in touch with your inner mermaid. A good first step to getting into outdoor swimming for fitness is to see if there’s a local outdoor swimming club near you with whom you can train in local rivers and lakes. If you’re going it alone, find a placid swimming lake you can swim the width of – you’ll quickly get used to guiding yourself without painted lanes. In any outdoor water it’s best to wear a wetsuit and use decent goggles, and before swimming anywhere, check if there are any currents or riptides to be aware of.
Try an ‘act of wildness’
Studies have shown that spending time doing an activity in the wild – that could be foraging, bushcraft or even something as simple as feeding birds – significantly increases our health, happiness and connection to nature, and not just during the activity, but in a sustained way for months after it has been completed. Spending short amounts of time doing ‘acts of wildness’ can improve self-esteem and help with anxiety, and it’s also been proven that people with a stronger connection to nature feel more satisfied with their lives. I love these acts because they’re quick and easy to fit into a busy day – you could even just pop to your local park on your lunch break to get your nature fix.
Make food on the fire
Mastering the art of lighting a fire is immensely satisfying yet simple – and it’s also a great way to get creative with cooking outdoors. You don’t need lots of space, either – I’ve cooked over a fire pit in tiny gardens, and many campsites allow cooking fires (www.coolcamping.com is a good place to search for campsites with campfires) if you don’t have your own yard. Invest in a big fire pit, grab a skillet pan or a grill and get cooking outside. I usually make up a fire and wait until it’s burned long enough for there to be some glowing embers and enough heat that I can’t put my hand near the fire. There are lots of healthy-yet-tasty camping recipes to try online – my go-to is tuna steaks in a skillet pan topped with pesto (or even better, wild garlic pesto) and roasted potatoes wrapped in foil among the embers.
Fuel your adventures
One of my resolutions for 2022 is to eat more mindfully and healthily, to give me extra energy for all the time I spend exercising and exploring outdoors. No-one needs a sugar crash halfway through a trek, and prepping my own meals is also more environmentally friendly than buying pre-packaged snacks on the go. I’m packing Lizis’ High Protein granola (https://www.lizis.co.uk/shop/high-protein-granola/) in my backpack for camping breakfasts, and I’m going to experiment with making on-the-go cereal bars with its delicious treacle and pecan mix.