As a solo female adventurer I’ve faced countless times where I’ve been exhausted, where my entire body hurts and my mind is full of doubts as I’m running past empty. I just wanna give up, go home and curl up in a warm bed to hid from the world. Unfortunately, I have found that doesn’t help. Even though it sounds perfect, at the moment. So what does help? Reconnecting with my inner strength with the help of these following tips, which I use when adventuring or even with life struggles.
Here are 10 tips to get you past feeling empty.
Past Feeling Empty Tip #1:
Slow Down, Take a break, and BREATH Past Empty
When you have a deadline or set miles or when you are past feeling empty it can be hard to take breaks. I compete or take part in bike events with time restrictions which cause for mad pressure to stay on track. I fear taking breaks, especially when I’m behind but that’s when you need them the most!
Learning to Breath
Find a good spot to stop. Either in the shade, if it’s a hot day or in the sun, if it’s a cooler day. Make sure you are out of traffic or other passers. Set everything aside, find a comfy place to sit that’s peaceful. Set your timer if you’d like (or not, up to you) and take a deep breath in, releasing your stomach muscles to let the air fill up your belly. Exhale slow and steady. Gently squeeze your stomach towards your spine pushing all the air out, gently. Close your eyes and repeat this deep breath a few times. Slowly let your thoughts of fear, pain, doubt, time, place float out of your mind. Do not push them out if they return just let float away. Let the empty feeling go on the exhale, allow the positive feelings fill you up on the inhale. Here are three breathing exercises and techniques to help change things up on each break. Taking breaks throughout the day is a must in my book, but how many breaks? That’s up to you.
Past Feeling Empty Tip #2: Look Around
So you are probably on a big adventure, out in nature somewhere, right? Well let the aspects of nature fill up when you’re past feeling empty. Take it in! Nature is the best remedy for anything and everything. Whether you are taking your much needed break or on the move, take time to look around. How amazing is the landscape? The trees? The flowers? The mountains? The desert? If you are in new terrain take in the unique new aspects of nature. Take a deep breath and smell the air. Is there a hint of jasmine, lilac, pine or dirt? What do you hear. A stream? Strange new bird calls? A calming stream? Look around and take it all in. Pretty amazing, right!
Past Feeling Empty Tip #3:
SCREAM, CRY, Yell, let it out!!!!!
When I was biking solo across NZ I cried with frustration (and sometime anger) EVERY day. I tried to keep it all in. Afraid I would be a coward for feeling this way or worse, a failure, I just pushed these emotions deep down. Past feeling empty, I moved on. This did me NO good. Emotions just don’t go away. They need to be felt! They are feelings after all. The Chopra Center’s article Emotional Spring Cleaning stats:
“Every feeling has an important message, and when we let ourselves feel them and flow through us rather than shoving them away, we can begin to experience greater emotional well being.”
SHOUT, SHOUT Let It All Out
After felling overwhelmed by pushed down emotions, I tried something new. When I felt alone I screamed at the top of my lungs “THIS SUCKS!!!” I was surprised how amazing this felt. I did it over and over again. I realized I was feeling anger and letting it go. By letting out the negative it made more room for the positive. Try it. Find a safe space where you feel free to express yourself, fully. Then let it out. Scream. Yell. Cry. Express the feeling of being past empty. Whatever you need to get it out, let it out! Just remember, good or bad, emotions are just a NORMAL part of adventure and life so embrace, express and truly fell them!
Past Feeling Empty Tip #4:
Refueling When Past Empty
Food. One of the basics that may be overlooked, may become a boring or even the unthinkable, a burden! Yet food fills us up, keeps you going when you’re past feeling empty.
Just Wanna Have Fun
When doing long multi day, even month(s) long adventures it can be easy to loose track of eating. Setting a timer helps. I use to set a timer every 30 minutes as a reminder to take a bite. Having fun snacks can also help. Dates with chocolate and almonds give energy, fiber and are a favorite snack of mine. Dates are super easy to carry too. There may be a point when you are tired of eating, doesn’t sound possible does it? But after a few weeks of having to eat, eat, eat it becomes a chore and is no fun. So make it fun! When I travel to new places or cultures I look forward to seeing what exciting new tasty foods I get to try. Ask locals what are their favorite.
Bring the Fam Along
If there is no one around, then have fun packing up your snacks. Add little notes of motivation to keep you going. Friends and family can join in with this. Have them write a few notes that you can put in each snack pack.
The most important part about food is making sure to carry enough. If I know it will be a day without a place to resupply I usually carry enough food for a two-three days, just in case. Refueling your empty works WONDERS. It’s our own bit of magic to keep us going. So keep at it, take the time to eat and have fun. Also, don’t forget water, it’s just as important as food!
Past Feeling Empty Tip #5: Setting Daily Attainable Goals
Setting goals are part of accomplishing tasks but if your goals aren’t being reach you can be brought down, making you past feeling empty. I’ve found when doing an adventure goals change from day to day, sometimes hour to hour or even minute to minute. So how do you set goals if everything keeps changing? Why do we even need goals during an adventure?
When riding my bike 1900 miles in 30 days, I set a goal of 86 miles a day. This gave me one day off a week for recovery, in theory. The first day I rode only 40 miles!!! I was devastated. I was also half way around the world, nervous and all alone. This was effecting my original miles goal. I had to get real with the fact I just could ride that many miles a day. So I made some changes.
I changed my ‘theory’ goals to attainable ones. Going from 86 miles to 60 miles a day. A few days later I changed my goal again. Ended up, each morning I just set a new mile goal making them, once again, attainable. I did kept my over all goal, as best I could (I ended up being 1 day over). I began to knock out miles and realized it was more fun to keep track of hours in the saddle then distance. So I changed my goals, once again!
The key to setting goals is to set goals you can reach. The empowerment and confidence gained from reaching daily attainable goals is like no other. And remember, you set the goals which means you can change the goals. You’re overall goal may be to finish your adventure. So stick with it but be flexible elsewhere.
Past Feeling Empty Tip #6: Good Nights Sleep
It’s beyond important to get past feeling empty by getting a good nights sleep. There have been many a nights when I’ve settled into my cozy sleeping bag full of the feeling that are past emptiness and despair. I just know that nothing will make it better. Much to my surprise, and kind of like a bit of magic, I wake the next day feeling like I may just be able to take the world. Why?
Benefits of Sleep
When you sleep your body repairs and heals which improves your mood, performance and abilities. This also reduces your stresses allowing you to take on the new day of challenges. What happens when we skip on sleep? Or don’t get enough? You may not function as well, both mentally and physically causing lack in judgement and causing you to drag. You may start making some bad decisions which will effect your mood and then your entire day. This could also result in unwanted injuries, which would be a totally bummer.
Research has shown that sleeping outdoors may improves your health and sleep. So make the time and take the effort, cause you deserve it. A good nights sleep will give you a more positive outlook, help you heal and help you to kick some ass the next day!
Let the power of music transform you past feeling empty, kicking your troubles away with your own personal adventurous soundtrack!!! I’ve used music to create a dance party for me and the dog while cooking dinner. Set the mood for a perfect romanic date. And to bring empowerment in dark times. Before a trip or adventure I put together a playlist for all possible moods. Playlists for when I’m sad. Mad. Happy. Scared. Or for a big climb or a long day of miles.
I highly recommend downloading music. Most likely you will be where there is no service. You may have to pay for this feature but to me it’s worth it. Spotify has some great playlists, albums and podcasts ready for you to download.
Sing Your Troubles Away
“When I sing, trouble can sit right on my shoulder and I don’t even notice.” – Sarah Vaughan
When an evil climb is coming, or you feel the sad tears approaching put on your power playlist and SING IT OUT! I know it sounds kind of juvenile but I say embrace it. The power of music and singing out loud at the top of your lungs may be just what you need. I sing at the top of my lungs while listening to my favorite playlist that I created. It brings me empowerment and fills my past empty with a bit of rebel girl love: Top 10 Rebel Girls Songs for Every Nomad.
I turn my music off when I have to pay attention to my surroundings. I sometimes have only one ear bud in at a time or have my music low. Rock out, get empowered but be safe! Also, you can also sing it out without a device, all ya need is a set of pipes.
Past Feeling Empty Tip #8:
3 Gratitudes: Remember why you are doing this
Each one of us has our reasons for adventuring: to be in nature, to find self worth, to set a record, to push ourselves, and more! At times you may find yourself more focused on the mishaps which is a quick spiral into a very dark place, a place that is past feeling empty. Shawn Achor’s 3 Gratitudes is a great habit to help remind you why you are doing something so daring and will also help you pull yourself up by the bootstraps, literally!
How to be Positive
Each day come up with 3 different things we are grateful for. Happiness expert Anchor says that it doesn’t matter what you are grateful for because your brain is now scanning the world to find the positive, instead of the negative.
“When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive.” – Shawn Archor
The 3 Gratitudes isn’t as easy as you might think and easier than you would think. Confused? I have found that when you are negative you want to stay in the negative. You don’t want to focus on say how beautiful the landscape may be (grateful #1 and tip #2). What a privilege it is to be on an adventure (grateful #2). That it takes strength, focus, commitment and determination just to take on an adventure (grateful #3). So I guess it is just that simple. Don’t let the negative get ahold of you. Remember why you are doing this in the first place. Remember what it took to just even plan a trip like this and don’t to have 3 new gratefuls a day, even when past feeling empty.
Past Feeling Empty Tip #9: Don’t Rush, Be In The Moment
“This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
– Pema Chödrön
We are always rushing or hurrying especially when past feeling empty. The thought might be that “if I just could get past this. Rush to the finish or through the bad, just get to the good, then I’ll be fine.” What if we rush so fast that we miss out? That we miss the message, the teaching that each and every moment has waiting for us.
Rushing to the Top
On a solo bike packing trip, I had a day that was full of a really difficult climb. The mountain was too steep and the rocks were to large and loose that I was forced to push my 70 lb loaded bike. On each and every step, I would loose my footing almost face planting. I tried to do was rush to the top as fast as I could. I remembering thinking “just get to the top and then rest”. Until I slowly realized, after only moving a few yards in hours, that I wasn’t going to be able to rush to the top. So I laid down the bike, took a breather (tip #1), took in the scenic awe looking sites of the mountains beauty (tip #2) and ate lunch (tip #3).
Present: Bad to Good
As I sat, taking in that moment, I really became present. I let the concerns of the day drop away and I began to enjoy myself. Sitting on that mountain side taking in the view, I became grateful (tip #8) for this experience. Yes, it was difficult but I was learning that there will always be a difficult. I also was learning that the faster I rushed to the top the faster this trip would be over, which I wasn’t ready for. I wanted to enjoy EVERY moment. This bad time quickly turned into good all because I stopped rushing and became present. Try writing, shoot a short video diary or sketch some art about what you learned by being present in YOUR moment.
Past Feeling Empty Tip #10:
Mantras to Replenish and Empower
A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated. They can be spoken out loud or silently to yourself. Taking a moment each day to sit with your mantra fills up your past feeling empty and centers you. I start every day off with a little mediation and mantra, especially when I’m on an adventure.
Choosing Your Right Words
I change up my mantras on the daily, depending on how I feel or what I am be lacking. You can make up your own, use sanskrit mantras or what every you’d like really. There is no wrong. Just choose a word or phrase to bring what you need. If you feel a lack of love, focus on the word love or I am deserving of love. If you feel beaten down longing for strength, find a word or phrase that brings you strength. Here are a few of my favorites that I made for myself, try them on for size. See if they fit, if not change them up and have FUN with it.
“I am a badass. Every day I MAY be beaten down but every day I WILL move one step ahead.”
“I am love. No matter the outcome I deserve and have love for myself and others.”
“I am strong. I may fall 7 times but will pick myself up 8.”
“I am me. I will move at my own pace, take on what I can capable of taking on and will let go of the things I can not.”