endorphin enthusiast, writer and life-lover sophie everard discusses the pros of going physical

Today’s world is frantic: A place where our senses are directed to outward objects that suck and pull us inward – but what happens to our heads, hearts and minds when we swap it for some IRL experiences?

Our gazes our glazed and our touches dulled by our multitude of tablets, smartphones and processors that demand all of our attention. We are all guilty of not letting a single tweet or Instagram mention going unnoticed. God forbid a Facebook message remains unseen. You’re guilty of it, I am guilty of it – this modern day opium intoxicates us all. The result of all this e-stimuli hits the senses hard, our perceptions to our surroundings, the rustles and chirps of life, are dulled. 

Stress and anxiety levels are busting to an all time high. Eyes gravitate downwards towards phones, shoulders slump. But there’s a lot to be said for drawing the eyes up, opening the ears and heard and getting the mind and body out there: exploring, breathing, moving and being. Gazing up at the trees, filling lungs with air, smelling and hearing the squelch of damp earth underfoot – reigniting the damp, deadened senses through simple out door activity, one invigorating step at a time. It’s a gift that will never stop giving.

Our bodies are capable of incredible movement, our senses equipped to connect with and be stimulated by nature – it’s the primal essence of what being a human is.  The simple rewards of embracing activity and the outdoors, are copious.  From boosting energy levels to decreasing anxiety, increasing endorphin production, reducing hypertension and the risk coronary heart disease, strokes, diabetes and obesity, the exposure to vitamin D improving sleeping patterns and immune system function, and let’s not forget the power of having a spring in your step – the feeling of being just that bit more capable of tackling and enjoying the day both physically and mentally. 

Surfers, explorers of the mountains, hikers, bikers, snowboarders, skiers are often name-dropped as having the most enviable and desirable of lifestyles.  Casting aside the initial connotation of the toned and tanned, it’s the connection to nature and the senses which are charged and utilized in their full capacity in these sports.  Drenched in adventure and the elements, electrifying the senses and sharpening the body and mind, those who pursue these activities often cite a spiritual awareness from the participation in these sports.   

The connection to mother nature and to feeling so charged and awake, in the moment and in life, takes on a spiritual meaning. Action sports aficionados tend of take themselves out of their comfort zones, cognitively, to push their bodies, physically, to places they may fear.  The exhilaration, the adventure, the reward and the happiness this affords is often referred to as a “natural high”, incomparable to any synthetic or virtual high. 

It’s a very a basic formula – how good it feels to have the ocean drench you while you ride a wave, to see the sunrise in front of you sitting on your board between sets as you immerse yourself in Mother Nature, how good it feels to charge down a track on a bike with the wind in your face, and smell of the trees in your nose, to gallop down a beach with the sun setting in front of your eyes, to carve down a snowy mountain with the crisp air rushing at you, to take a run around your local park, the smell of autumn leaves and blue skies around you, crunching leaves under foot.

It’s easy to try and fix the common gripes of the over virtually stimulated with over the counter bounty – but the primordial core of being human is rousing and stirring through a simple connection to the outdoors and being active, of being in the moment.

Sophie Everard runs Mad to Live retreats, find out more madtoliveblog.com

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