Being a full time employee, student and mother, I find it hard to make time for myself. What little free time I do have excites me, as I finally have the chance to clean out my car and catch up on laundry (yippee).
This year I decided to make a change in my routine that I’d strongly recommend to everyone—I decided to take care of my mental well-being—which is just as important, if not more, than our physical state. I decided to opt out of snoozing my alarm when I have the day off and venture out. Yes, I can use the time to catch up laundry, clean my home, or run errands around the city—but what good does that do my mental state? Is that really a day off? Negative.
This past week, I took time away from daily life hassles and traveled to the great Austin, Texas.
Not only is Austin the state capital, home of diverse cultures, food and music, but Austin is also home to some of the most beautiful nature hiking trails. On this particular trip, I spent the day hiking Barton Creek Greenbelt. The weather was absolute perfection—72 degrees with a perfect cool breeze in December (what is winter, anyway?).
Usually, my brain is racing fast as a stallion with financial worries, to-do lists and everyday issues—but out on the trails my brain suppresses all other thoughts to focus on two things:
- The beauty of the outdoors
- Not falling face first on slimy, sharp rocks.
Without effort, I was able to center my thoughts on the stunning seasonal colors, serene humming of the lake and impeccable timing of every cool breeze. Even with terrible sleep, the persuasive energy of the outdoors fused with what little I had and I was off.
We climbed through the shallow water river of rocks, up the sides of boulders, wrestled with vines and old branches and encountered several off trail breathtaking sights. It was a great physical challenge, but an even better mental escape. I felt free. I felt small. I felt humbled. Everything I was worried about seemed so silly in such an unrestricted environment. It may be important, but definitely not important enough to threaten my peace of mind.
The birds didn’t soar by, they flew charmingly. The leaves weren’t flying around with robust winds, they fell gracefully.
So many colors.
So many sounds.
So much life.
I thought to myself, ‘this is life’–not smart phones, emails, 4.0 GPA or status updates and hash tags—this is life. This is purpose. This is authenticity.
After spending the entire day outdoors on and off trail, I drove back to Corpus Christi, Texas. I felt relaxed, refreshed and blessed. Even through Austin traffic, the drive was great. I found myself grateful for the smaller things I tend to naturally overlook. I wasn’t thinking of issues with my cell phone provider which had me pulling my hair out days before; instead I was wondering how the moon managed to be dark enough so as not to disturb us, but provide just enough light to guide us through the night and allow us to enjoy it’s stunning presence. I drove and thought ‘How amazing is that?’ I have three more trips planned before spring semester starts in January—and this trip was a great kick starter.
As the busy bees we are, we somehow always manage to find time to care for ourselves physically. We sanitize our regularly used items, brush our teeth three times a day, ensure regular physician check-ups, and [occasionally] convince ourselves to put the second donut down. Though these may be considered a hassle to some, we do it—because it’s important.
My dear friends at Camden, I promise you, as busy as you may be, as busy as we all are, it is so important to take time for ourselves. Don’t let life hassles trick you into thinking you don’t have time or energy—life hassles are the very reason you don’t have time or energy. If you’re feeling worn down or fatigued, you need a break—a life refresher. This doesn’t mean a day off to play catch up and run errands, but a day off to simply run. Run with no destination; run with no time limit—just run. If you don’t run, jog, walk…just get out and enjoy nature’s beauty. Enjoy life as we were meant to. We need to care for ourselves mentally just as much as we do physically and I cannot stress that enough.
As you’re scrolling through my photos I hope you’re not only enjoying them (and maybe silently judging my unfortunate iPhone photo skills), but you’re also planning your next mental escape. The time will never be perfect, so do not wait. No matter what you think, you most certainly deserve it.
Calling all Camden Lamar Heights residents-did you know you’re less than 30 minutes from Barton Creek Greenbelt? Take advantage of your awesome location- I’ve linked the directions here for quick reference!