A few weeks ago, my best friend called me demanding a girls' trip to San Diego. We had all been through a pretty rough season and so she suggested a little self-care trip to bond and reset. Even though I had a million excuses not to go, I eventually caved.
One of the many things I love about my best friend is that she's very considerate, and so she planned a bunch of excursions with 95% of them being free. She was aware that since it was a last-minute trip, we were all vacationing on a budget. One of the excursions she planned was a hiking trail called Three Sisters Falls Trail in a mountain range just outside of San Diego.
Now, keep in mind my best friend is one of those people who’s pretty committed to health and fitness. She works out. She eats right. She's on top of her stuff. The rest of us are, well, not as committed. I'm not saying that we're lumps on a log, but c’mon, this girl goes hiking on a Saturday for fun, lol. So with our differences in mind, she selected this trail because it was only two miles down and two miles back up. We would go down one of the mountains, around a bend, up a cliff and then we would end up at this gorgeous waterfall where the three mountain ranges come together.
We all think, "Two miles? No problem! It's going to be delightful."
As we head out on the way down she says, "If you want to take any pictures for fun, we should take them on the way down because on the way back, you're not going to be thinking about or wanting to take any pictures." So we started our hike, laughing, chatting, we stopped in a few locations to take some pictures along the way. As we're walking, about halfway on the trail it starts to get a little rocky and pretty narrow.
The chatting slowed down as our need to concentrate increased.
Now listen, I have big feet y'all, so there was a point where I felt like my foot was literally at the edge of this path around the mountain and I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to keep my footing, haha.
But, we all made our way through. We went down, up, around, we were on the beaten path and then we came to the last stretch where it was so rocky that you feel unsure if you're still on the trail or not. Thankfully, my best friend had done this hike before, so she knew that we were headed in the right direction. But around this time I remember thinking to myself, "I don't think I'm going to make it."
We were on the last leg of the trail, maybe another 10 minutes left to the waterfall. Only 10 minutes! We had already accomplished most of the journey, and yet, at this point I was starting to lose the light at the end of the tunnel. Then, as I felt like I was gasping for my last hearty, deep breath of air, we arrived at our final destination - the space where the mountains met and the waterfall was (barely) flowing. It was such an exhilarating feeling because it was literally living out the cliche metaphor of how it feels to “climb a mountain and it’s hard to see the end in sight.”
But I did it. I stretched myself physically and mentally and it was such an incredible experience.
Now, I will say that the trip back up the mountain was much more difficult, at times more difficult for some than others. (No names will be mentioned here. This stays between us girls. LOL) But the point is, we finished it all together. And it’s such a bonus when investing time in yourself also helps your relationships thrive and get stronger.
What does this all have to do with self-care? Well, taking new adventures and being open to exploring this world helps to tap into a power within you that would otherwise not be touched. If you’re not willing to go to the edge, so to speak, then you’re going to remain limited by what’s comfortable and the things you already know. There's so much to learn and explore, plus
the energy that you get from new experiences helps you grow and appreciate this world we live in.
Here’s what this hiking adventure did for me…
Challenging our body not only pumps you with endorphins, but it also is a confidence booster. Anytime you’re doing something physical, you’re celebrating all that your body can do. Whether it’s a sit-up or a 4-mile hike, it’s an act of self-love. That 5 ½ hour climb was the most exhilarating exercise I’ve had in a loooong time. And I gotta be honest, it felt so good to push my body.
Doing something new creates mental stimulation which helps you feel more energized and alive. Whether this is pottery or kayaking, the fact that your brain is being stimulated by a new activity activates new brain cells. And, when you’re using problem-solving skills or working through a challenge it’s a great time to train your brain. I had to utilize a few tools in my toolbox to push through the mental fatigue. I was so tired and I felt like my body was going to give out at one point. There was no shade. It was beating hot which made it hard to breathe. There were snakes and slippery rocks. Yet again, it felt so good to push through and overcome the mental challenges that were stirring up self-doubt and defeat.
This could unfold a lot of different ways or maybe not at all. In my case, when our friend (she who will not be named) was struggling to get back up the mountain, everybody's patience could’ve been tested because it was friggin’ strenuous and hot!!! But, we had each other's back, we kept our emotions uplifted, our energy good, and that helped her get to the end of what was a really difficult journey for her. It could've gone wayyy far left. But because of the love and respect that we have for one another and the way that we all checked our emotions internally, as we were going through our own pain and agony of this intense hike up, we all were able to practice emotional regulation and emotional intelligence to be there for the one who needed us the most.
Everyone I know says being in nature is the best spiritual experience you can find. I can't express how grounding it feels to spend time out in the open with Mother Earth. Even though it was excruciatingly hot, when I walked along the sides and around the corners of those mountains, I was in awe of the way our beautiful planet has been formed. And also crazy to see natural water flowing down the side of the rocks and creating life everywhere where the water touched. You just feel closer to the Creator when you’re out in the mountains, or on a lake, or the ocean, or anywhere where it's just you and the earth. It's an incredible experience.
Making new adventures is a really fun holistic approach to self-care. When you stretch yourself in new areas, if you try new things, then you ignite new areas of growth and energy in your soul. We should be making it a point to try something new often! It can be so much more than a good time, it could also boost your confidence, promote overall health, and improve your mood.
So - What’s your next adventure??