By Shaquana Rodd
Black People and The Outdoors are typically two things we don’t often hear in the same sentence, but we aim to change that narrative! When most people say they're outside, they don’t mean intentionally being outdoors for an extended period of time, rather just out of the house. Well, we’re here to set the record straight that being outdoors can be inclusive to folks with brown skin too. After all, we aren't a monolith! Just like there are a range of hues that we come in, so are our interests and capabilities. Let’s unpack a wellness practice that many of us have been far removed from and encourage more to explore the benefits of what it’s like to be Black in the Outdoors.
When you think of being outdoors, what initially comes to mind? Possibly the weather conditions, bugs, and many other thoughts but as we all know, there is more than one way to get the job done. So let’s explore ways to get you out of the house and into nature so we can increase your Vitamin D and boost your mood.
There are many activities that you may haven’t considered that can be done outdoors. When I think of being outside, I personally think of some of the activities our grandparents would engage in and consider if that has any bearing on their longevity here on Earth. Oh, what a blessing. For starters, let’s explore the outdoor activity spectrum and work our way from less intensive to most intensive, because who doesn’t love a good graph, Lol.
Nothing smells better than grilled food lingering through the air, it’s like your nose can sniff out a cookout a mile away. Cookouts can be thrown for celebratory reasons or just because. When the weather is right, do we really need a reason to throw something on the grill? Just don’t forget to send our invite, Lol.
Picnics are fun and a creative reason to get fly and enjoy time with your lover and/or friends. Fellowshipping over a light meal with genuine people who love and care for us helps to uplift our spirits and warm our hearts. We even featured a blog last month on creating the perfect soft girl picnic here!
Now would be the perfect time to start a garden at home. With the recent lab grown chicken approval it wouldn’t hurt to grow your own food right in your backyard. Much like raising children, growing plants takes much time, dedication, and care on your part. Intentionally nurturing your work will bring you much joy when you have reaped the harvest of your hard work. If you don’t know the first thing about gardening, research a gardening club near you or check out Gardening with Goo or Niya Brown Matthews who share valuable information on plant education and offer Garden Workshops, respectively.
Additionally, maintaining the yard may sound more like a “man’s” job so I’m not judging if you hire a landscaper to keep your grass veranda green, but tending to your hedges or planting colorful flowers around your home helps to add an inviting and vibrant element to your outdoor décor, if you will.
Incorporating movement into your daily routine is a great way to get your heart pumping and release endorphins. If you are looking for a way to de-stress from a busy day and burn calories all at the same time, look no further. Implementing daily walks or even hiking, if you are adventurous enough, can be advantageous for one’s mental health with exposure to fresh air, exercise, and premium sunshine. We’ve included resources from organizations that promote hiking: Black People Who Hike, Blk Hiking Club, & Hike and Heal!
Put your bicycle to use and let’s take a stroll around the neighborhood or a nearby park. Even if you haven’t ridden a bike in years don’t fret, it’s just like riding a bike. It’ll all come back to you. Depending on your preference, take an intense ride while increasing your lower body strength. You’d be surprised how far you can make it on a bike. Here are a few trails to get you started, the 3.5-mile Charlotte Rail Trail in the Queen City, the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile greenway located in Greenville, SC, or the Big Creek Greenway just outside of Atlanta, GA. Trail Link is a great way to find a trail near you, just be sure to check the level of difficulty and distance and don’t forget to stay hydrated.
Visiting National Parks
According to the National Parks Service, they’ve recorded less than 2% of visitors being of African American descent. It’s safe to say visiting the Grand Canyon isn’t at the top of the list but I have to admit, there’s just something about seeing the park’s beauty in person that forever changed my mind about National Parks. With over 400 locations to choose from there’s much to be explored. You can pay per visit or grab an annual pass for just $80 additionally, veterans and active military get free entrance. They even offer free entrance days, with two dates this year including September 23rd (National Public Lands Day) and November 11th (Veterans Day). Check out their site here to find a park near or far. I don’t know about you but I have my sites on stargazing in Arches National Park, how dreamy!
We’ve discussed many activities but now let’s focus on the benefits of being in nature. Essentially, it’s not particularly healthy to stay cooped up in the house all day every day, even if you are a homebody! Even if you are sitting on the front porch or balcony getting some fresh air, that’s a start. Breathing in fresh, natural air over recycled manufactured AC has its benefits which helps improve your mood, clean your lungs, and sharpen your mind. Exposing yourself to Sunlight can also provide a wonderful dose of Vitamin D which helps to improve brain function, sleep quality, and overall decrease stress. Wellness in the outdoors is sure to bring you grounding, stillness, and peace of mind. It also allows you the opportunity to take a much-needed electronic detox from cell phones, laptops, and televisions. Let’s get back to how things were before all the distractions and social media became part of our daily activities. Let’s make mental restoration a priority to consistently create balance in improving our overall well-being. As you can see the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
As you have read there are many ways to explore the outdoors and we encourage you to take advantage of the various activities, year-round if you can. Here at RVL Wellness, we pride ourselves on providing our readers with sufficient wellness and self-care tips and advice to enrich your lives. From walks in the park to occasional cookouts, no matter what you decide, you can rest assured that you’ll be reaping tremendous benefits that will improve your overall quality of life. The temperatures have been a tad elevated but that just means more sunshine for everyone! Join us in getting off the couch and getting into nature, increased wellness and reaching a heightened level of ultimate self-care. We’d love for you to share any suggested wellness tips with us in the comments below or on social media. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook and let us know how you’ll show up Black in the Outdoors!
Until next time RVL Family, stay well!