Sophie’s World: Taking my first steps to an outdoorsy lifestyle - YEP opinion
As my long eyelash extensions sailed through the wind, I took a deep breath as I began climbing England’s tallest mountain after a last minute idea to deal with life challenges differently.
I had been tucking into a Chinese hot pot inside my cosy Yorkshire home with my family the night before and here I was with my step-dad eight hours later, voluntarily trekking through the cold wind as icicles formed in my hair.
I had chosen this path, with only a flask of hot coffee and a ridiculous number of layers to keep me warm, because the alternative would have been to wallow further inside my lonely anxious brain at home on my own. Underprepared, perhaps, but sometimes when we feel we’re falling in life, it’s important to dive into the unexpected. I am by no means, an ‘outdoorsy’ type and growing up I would complain about walking anywhere.
But the beauty of nature, outdoors and just exploring somewhere close to home, is available to us all, even if it starts with looking at the trees through a window.
Ever since that last minute decision to mount Scafell Pike, I have found myself walking and exploring more ofY orkshire.
There is true beauty in serendipitous moments that the natural world opens up to us in abundance, allowing our minds to be free, especially when feeling stressed. As restrictions ease, I chose to take a spontaneous self-care sabbatical away from my busy work schedule online to do the opposite of what my stressed mind wanted me to do (plough more coffee and slog at my computer), and accompany my step-dad and my partner on a scrambling trip for a few hours into the stunning Yorkshire countryside.
This helped to clear my mental clutter, connect with my loved ones and even feel unexpected snowdrops sparkle over my face - the icicles in my hair were back.
My step-dad Lee Furness has also been on a similar journey in life this year, from slipping back into unhealthy eating and excess TV when losing clients in the first lockdown to refining his woodwork skills on YouTube and having the time to start focusing on his hiking too. He said: “At first, I would hike for five, six or seven miles but after a few weeks this turned into 10 to 15 miles and later 20 to 30 miles, always starting from home and making my way out step by step into the countryside.”
Lee now spends his working weeks outdoors building garden offices, bird boxes and makes time for his hiking, instead of slamming the phone and sitting frustrated in front of a screen.
And as for my eyelash extensions, I completed a beauty qualification in lockdown to learn to apply them myself, I’ve also studied mental health and fitness and yoga...having this time has been a great self-care for my “brain and booty” as I say.
But do you know what, no make-up, no lashes, no nothing, our last-minute self-care sabbatical last week was just the tonic. Unpredictable, a challenge and a healthy start.
I hope my kids will follow in my footsteps, and even the school run is a great way for us to get moving together.
It is important to get out of our heads and into our bodies whether this be a physical outdoors pursuit, dancing free or picking up an easel or a makeup brush and creating art your own way. Just take one step forward and who knows where it will take you...