The Forge

Burnout is everywhere. It creeps up without you noticing and can have a devastating impact on every aspect of your life. There is no easy cure. To really break the negative cycle of burnout you need to do something radically different. This is where the great outdoors comes in.

Putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, in a very literal sense, can give you the time and space you need to reflect on your own behaviour and why the same old patterns keep occurring.

When you take a cold-water swim in a lake, your body goes into a managed state of shock, releasing a big hit of adrenaline. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is released from your adrenal glands, which maintains this state for minutes to hours, while a surge of beta-endorphin hormones in the brain provides pain relief and gives a sense of euphoria. This affords you a unique and refreshed perspective on your life and what’s important to you, which you are unable to do when you are mired in the deep fog of burnout.

When you spend time using your hands in the woods, engaging in bushcraft activities such as fire lighting, foraging for wild foods and whittling basic tools, you are taking yourself out of your usual modus operandi which provides a source of relaxation for your brain. Getting your hands dirty and exposing yourself to perfectly safe bacteria found naturally occurring in the soil (Mycobacterim vaccae) activates a group of neurons that produces the brain chemical, serotonin – the happy chemical, which regulates mood and contributes to better emotional stability. Spending time in the woods, what the Japanese call ‘shinrin yoku’ or ‘forest bathing’, has been proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and lower heart rate and blood pressure. All key ingredients in providing the foundations upon which to rebuild a burnout-free life.

And when you engage in a new outdoor activity with an element of risk, such as axe throwing or stand up paddleboarding, your attention and focus is entirely absorbed in the present moment, providing a release from the relentless thought patterns of burnout which can make the condition worse. Learning to enjoy the present moment and engage fully in a new activity is a key component of successful burnout recovery.

If you’d like to find out more, you can take a short test to determine your burnout score and what actions you can take, if required.

You might also be interested in our Free Yourself From Burnout Programme, a five-day, outdoor immersive experience in which you get to address the triggers of burnout and learn new behaviours to break the cycle once and for all. For more information click here.

Posted: 11.05.22 | Wild Bushcraft| Health and wellbeing

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