Anxiety is hard.
If you struggle with anxiety it can be hard to get out and do day to day things, let alone getting you and your kids outdoors.
It’s understandable to have anxiety surrounding getting into nature with your little ones. However, to ease your worries here are a few tips for the anxious parent to help you get your kids outside.
Take it slow
Heading into a no service area on a desolate trail is probably not the wisest idea if you’re just starting out. Start small. Go to a popular trail along the river or a busy lake. When you’re comfortable with this, try finding a short, well-known hike where you have cell service. Then, try a short, well-known hike without cell service. There is no timeline for getting comfortable on that no service area on a desolate trail. Don’t rush yourself or put yourself too far out of your comfort zone. When you feel confident in what you’re doing you and your kids will have a much more enjoyable time getting outside. If your anxiety is getting in the way it will be difficult for everyone to enjoy your time outside.
Get geared up
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Try and figure out what your biggest fears are about getting outdoors with your kids. If wild animals are your concern get yourself some bear spray, bangers, bells, or all of the above. If getting lost is your concern, try getting a GPS with downloaded maps and capability to communicate if no service is available If injuries are your concern try taking a First Aid course and keep a first aid kit with you in your pack. It may also be a good idea to bring a portable phone charger so you can rest assured that your phone is always at full battery. Do what you can to alleviate some of you fear and stress!
Read about the outdoors
The book “Balanced and Barefoot” by Angela Hanscom will help you understand how much impact nature will have on your kids and will leave you wanting to take them out all the time. Reading a book like this will give you the motivation you need to really weigh the benefits vs the risks of taking your kids outdoors.
Once you’re thoroughly empowered by the information you read, make sure you check out other resources for outdoors information. Websites like www.wildsafebc.com is great for understanding wildlife, and can help you feel more comfortable with it. Check out our Safety section and Adventurer’s Collective to find more information about being outdoors. If you can’t find what you’re looking for please feel free to email us and ask us any questions!
Spend time outside by yourself first
It can be overwhelming to jump right in and start taking your kids outdoors when you’re not even entirely comfortable with it yet. When you have some time to yourself grab a friend and head outdoors. If you have a friend who’s an avid outdoorsperson take advantage of their knowledge and skills. Ask them questions and let them share their experiences with you. Don’t have any outdoorsy friends? Head to your local outdoor sports shop and chat up the associate. Chances are they’ll be a wealth of knowledge, and they can get you set up with the appropriate gear you’ll need!
You don’t need to bring the kitchen sink every time you leave the house, but there are a few things you need to make sure to pack when you go outside with your kids. Make sure to bring water and snacks. Those are the two main things your kids are going to need to make sure they’re happy (which will make sure you’re happy). Bring your first aid kit, sunscreen, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, and any special objects that your kids may need for comfort.
Find a friend
Going on a little adventure is way more fun, safe, and exciting when you have friends to go with! Ask your friends or family to go with you. Being with another person will put your anxiety at ease, knowing that you are with someone else. Before you head out anywhere, alone or with friends, make sure you tell someone where you’re going, what time you’re leaving the house, and when you should be arriving home.
Use this technique to deal with anxiety:
It’s hard. Anxiety can affect all areas of you life, but try and enjoy the beauty of not only the outdoors, but the beauty of your children outdoors. Focus on the benefits that nature is providing to your children and yourself. One of the best ways to combat feelings of anxiety is to spend time breathing in the fresh air while getting some exercise and looking at the trees and mountains surrounding you. When you feel anxiety sneaking up on you try and make yourself present. Bring awareness to each of your senses: Find something you can hear, taste, smell, see, and feel. Hear your children’s laughter. Taste your coffee. Smell the flowers. See the trees. Feel the breeze. When your anxious feeling has passed give yourself praise for getting through that moment.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Take things one step at a time, and do it with kindness. Give yourself credit for what you’re doing because you are doing a fantastic job.