How to have a self care day in the bush alone
By Ruby Claire
I never used to venture out alone. Yes, I was scared of snakes and cliffs and creepy strangers lurking in the undergrowth, but I was mostly afraid of being confronted by my aloneness. I was afraid of the subsequent discomfort that comes with the realisation that you are made up of other people and things and social media gratification, and that you’re lacking in a little bit of self-love and the ability to keep your own company.
It took me a lot of time to learn how to be comfortable alone. And it was an act of learning. I would start out small: walking around the block without music, sitting in a park without my phone for a few hours. Eventually it moved to pitching a tent for a few days out the back of someone’s property, and soon, to the wilderness, off track, buried deep in the mountains.
There are a few things that make these trips what they are, a few essentials that make it more comfortable, safe and enriching.
1) The Nakie hammock
Weight and size is everything when you’re packing a backpack and heading into the wilderness. I had never put much thought into a hammock until I came across Nakie, which is small, lightweight and fits in your backpack along with everything else you need.
If you’re hiking into your self care day spot, you can’t always bring a comfortable chair or a large mat to lie on. And if you’re there for a few days, you want to be able to sit back and relax without doing so in your teeny tiny tent. This is where Nakie comes in.
I like to veer off track, to where the undergrowth is sharp and overgrown, where the birds congregate away from the hoards of people that come and go on the well-worn track. I take my day pack and fill it with snacks, and I string up my hammock. There I nap and read and journal and watch the trees move in the wind. I meditate and think and give myself space to do nothing. Pre-hammock life, I’d just perch on a rock, which wasn’t the most comfortable long term.
2) Sugar-free food
I know, I know, hear me out. As a self-proclaimed coca-cola addict, with a packet of biscuits on the go at all times, the whole no-sugar thing seems like a ridiculously difficult lifestyle. But when I’m out in the bush, listening to the orchestra of wildlife, inhaling the scent of wild flowers and eucalypt, it feels kind of… gross… snacking on a half-melted Kit Kat. A few carrots and some hummus, some scroggin and soup... there’s something hearty and wholesome about it. And when you’re having a self-care day (or weekend), you want to maximise the hearty and wholesome.
Carrying a first aid kit and an EPIRB if you’re spending time out of range, and letting people know where you’re going is necessary if you’re heading out alone. If you’re not familiar with going solo, this will give you and your loved ones peace of mind. Maybe watch a YouTube video about what to do if you get bitten by a snake, too.
4) Activities that encourage playfulness
When was the last time you did something for absolutely no reason? When did you colour in a drawing (and not complete it!) or build a fort from sticks or paint terrible pictures of what’s around you? When did you let go and create without putting it on your Instagram story? This is the time to delight in play. This is true self care! You shouldn’t need to spend money to check in with yourself, and to do things that nourish your body and your heart-place.
Learning to be comfortable alone was the greatest gift I ever gave myself. Doing so out in nature, with my journal and my books, my hammock and my snacks, makes for an affordable way to keep my mental health in check too.
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