Disconnecting to Connect
The number one way I connect with myself is by disconnecting from the world around me. I don’t mean shutting off and being non-responsive or denying my feelings. I mean dumping social media for a bit and heading into nature for a hike.
We live in a society that’s constantly telling women who to be and how to act. Throw in violence and harassment and a little bit of the resulting mental illness, and it’s no wonder it’s so common for us to feel disconnected from ourselves. It’s like we’re never given a chance to really get to know ourselves and understand our own needs. There’s always someone around the corner waiting to tell us what to think, what to feel, how to look, what to do with our lives.
This leads to a whole lotta doubt and confusion. You know something’s wrong but you can’t quite figure out what. You’re doing everything you’re told to do to be happy, but still feel unfulfilled. You feel inauthentic around your friends, causing anxiety and insecurity. Uncertainty rules in just about every aspect of your life.
Here’s the thing, you’re never really, truly disconnected with yourself. It may sound all doom and gloom, but it’s actually a good thing. It’s your body’s way of telling you that you’re out of sync, that you need to stop what you’re doing and pay attention to your wants and needs. But nobody ever taught us this, taught us how to connect with ourselves. Nobody told us that we deserved to listen to ourselves and act on our own wants and needs. Instead, we were taught to judge ourselves by the standards of others. We were shown how to connect with the needs of others but without first connecting with ourselves, it’s all superficial.
We go about our days consuming vast amounts of media. Watching TV. Checking social media. Reading books. Listening to music. All of these give us ideas about who to be. Unfortunately, we don’t spend as much time with the one source that actually knows who we are. Ourselves.
I know I’ve been unusually lucky in this respect. An avid outdoorswoman, I’ve always embraced time alone. But for a lot of people, especially women, this isn’t the case. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I’m stupid for camping or hiking alone. This attitude can deter a lot of women from embracing time alone and, fun fact, it’s total bullshit. Heading into nature alone is the key for reconnecting with yourself.
If you want out of that funk (and hell, who doesn’t?), then you need to step outside by yourself. Head to a park or forest preserve and go for a walk, a run, or a hike. This needs to be a regular part of your routine. But you also need to be alone at home, every day. Whether that’s taking a nice, soothing bath or spending a few extra minutes in the shower alone with your thoughts. Fit it into your schedule.
Every time these feelings start coming up for me and start getting overwhelming, I know my body’s trying to tell me something. And that something is that I’m spending too much time on social media, watching too much TV, and not listening enough to my inner voice. I start every morning with a nice cup of coffee, just chilling by myself with my thoughts to start the day. I go for hikes as often as possible, but I try to fit in a nice hike every week. When I’m really feeling disconnected, I take a few days or a week and go camping. Yeah, I go alone. And you know what, the first few times I did it, I was super intimidated about being out in the wilderness by myself. But I came back feeling more like me. I realized a lot about myself, including that I was more than capable of handling my shit (literally sometimes) all on my lonesome.
And the actual science on this supports the hell out of it. According to a study published in BioScience in 2017 on how people in urban areas maximized their benefits from nature, birds and vegetative cover had the biggest boost in lowering depression, anxiety, and stress.
You don’t need to jump in with both feet to start reconnecting with yourself. Baby steps are still steps. So take ‘em. Buy some houseplants and start journaling a couple minutes a day. Go for a run around your neighborhood and pay extra attention to the plants and critters you see. Work your way up, but do something now.
And sure, you might be about to give me the excuse that as a mom your kids come first or you’re too busy with your two jobs. Here’s the reality though, you’re gonna be a more patient mom, a more productive employee, a more loving girlfriend, a more fun sister if you’re not stressing the fuck out because you’re denying your own needs. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. For the people in the back: TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF ISN’T FUCKING SELFISH! Living in a state of constant self-denial and self-confusion sucks for you and the people around you. And the people who love us know that and agree that we need to take care of ourselves.
Spend some time with yourself and really listen to yourself. What are you going to do TODAY to disconnect with media influences and reconnect with yourself?
Haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet? What are you even doing with your life?! Kidding…but for realz, sign up here.