My job as a survival consultant requires me to be a year-round nomad, so the coronavirus pandemic and government restrictions such as lockdown and quarantine have thrown up a whole host of challenges for me. While at home alone and craving adventure, I ended up using the time to rebalance my mind and body, and spent most of the lockdown camped out on my patio.

I usually spend 10 to 11 months of the year on the road bouncing between jungles, deserts and mountainous regions of the world, where I’m often responsible for the lives of others in these environments and, as exciting as the lifestyle may sound, it comes with a huge amount of responsibility. When we first went into lockdown it took me a few weeks to calm the restless soul in me that is so accustomed to being on the move and attuned to danger.

I had a ridiculous moment when out walking along the coastal path where I live in North Wales when my mind spotted a rhino. Before the logical part of my brain kicked in and registered it as a harmless boulder, it sent me into fight or flight mode. As lockdown progressed and my bank accounts started emptying with the monthly outgoings of running a business and paying a team who, not based in the UK, could not be furloughed, I felt my anxiety rising. My normal escape from anxiety is being in constant movement, but not being able to go anywhere meant I had to change my mindset.


I went back to my roots and remembered my fascination with the natural world and the small things. Spending time in nature has been proven to reduce levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. I found myself really looking in the rock pools again, which I hadn’t done since I was a small child, watching the limpets and the anemones. Worries are still there, they are legitimate concerns, but factors are currently out of my control, and being in the present helps alleviate anxiety.

Pre-Covid, our lives were stressful enough. Our world is full of stimulation, which triggers the stress response in us. This primitive survival mechanism, which was designed to keep us safe, constantly scans the world around us using our senses to look for danger. But the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated our stress responses. If they are triggered over long periods of time and go unmanaged, it can cause serious health concerns.

In recent months, many of us have experienced a loss of work, homeschooling, and the dread of the unknown. Mix in the fear of contracting coronavirus, and our systems have the potential to become overwhelmed. Some have managed anxiety and stress by gardening while furloughed, others may have started a new hobby. For me it was adhering to a semblance of routine, which added a structure to my day, getting up at the same time, going for a run, and then having a coffee and calling a friend or colleague for a 30-minute catch-up, before starting the tasks of the day. Those who feel trapped by the new government travel restrictions can try one proven outlet: the outdoors. Spending time in nature is an easy way to manage stress. Green spaces are accessible to all, even if you’re in a city, they’re free!

Micro adventures are available from our front doors. NHS doctors in parts of Scotland are even prescribing spending time in nature or getting out for a hike to those suffering anxiety-related disorders. Taking a daily stroll in nature decreases our cortisol levels more than if we walked indoors on a treadmill. These doctors claim the sustained effect nature has on patients’ moods is dramatic. Being in the wild is also a great way to either be on your own or to spend time with others, and an opportunity to air your concerns or worries with a trusted friend.

Being surrounded by nature has always helped reset my body’s natural circadian rhythms. These can be knocked off-kilter by the way we live: things like artificial lighting ignore the body’s signs it needs to rest or sleep, as do overloading it with stimulants such as caffeine, and viewing screens before bed. Nature can help reset this, and bring us a sense of calm.

Campsites have reopened again, but if you can’t get a pitch and have a back yard or garden, why not set up camp there? Or go foraging in your local area, there are many edible plant species around our homes. I like to take a plant ID book with me on my daily walks, which helps bring me into the present moment and focuses me on the natural world. Or I take a camera, nature photography is a great way to really see the beauty of the natural world and helps motivate us to get outside to catch a sunrise or sunset or see berries on a tree.

When I am leading expeditions or doing safety on remote wilderness TV shoots, mastering my environment is key to keeping going for weeks, sometimes months on end. The same principles can be applied at home during a pandemic, no matter the government restrictions that may arise from it.

Building adventure and making time for the outside in our everyday lives is proven to bring mental and physical health benefits, so let’s remember that.

Megan Hine is a survival consultant to A-list celebrities, plus an expedition leader, private guide, and author of ‘Mind of a Survivor: What the wild has taught me about survival and success’

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