During April, my hubby & I spent two weeks in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Usually, you need to make your booking to this popular destination months in advance, so when newly acquainted friends invited us along on their booking, we jumped at the opportunity.
Spending two weeks in the wild with no internet connectivity forces you to take a (highly recommended) mental pause. After a few days of digital detox (even digital withdrawal if I must be completely honest), you begin to observe nature in a completely new way. Sadly, it’s only once you unlock your eyes and ears (your information senses) from digital screens and online information overload, that you start to discover Mother Nature’s long-forgotten life lessons, freely available to those who make it a priority to spend time with her.
Some of these lessons Mother Nature (and camping) reminded me of were:
- Know, accept and embrace your strengths & weaknesses
When camping with new friends for the first time, you can easily ruin a beautiful friendship if you impose your camping rituals on others or if you try to be too adaptable, not taking your own needs into account. My hubby and I both enjoy quiet surroundings (we are auditory roots with low thresholds for auditory input which means we function best in an environment with LESS noise/sounds). We decided to venture out in our own car each morning and do our own morning game drive after lively, festive, enjoyable “kuiers” (aka gatherings) around the campfire at night. This helped us reduce our daily auditory input and resulted in 0% irritation caused by prolonged listening. When nighttime came we were ready (and looking forward) to join in conversation and story-telling around the campfire. By acknowledging our sensory needs, we contributed towards sustained harmony in the group and were able to bring back many happy memories from our trip… and a newly established friendship. We are all different (thank goodness) and can live happier lives when prioritizing and addressing our own sensory needs. It will benefit not only ourselves but those around us as well. To discover your own sensory style and needs, complete your Sensory Matrix™️ by following THIS LINK.
- Realign your preferences to your current environment & circumstances
If you ask any South African, the image that comes to mind when thinking of the Kgalagadi would usually contain descriptions such as “dry”, “sand”, “hot”, “tough”, “harsh”. That’s because the park is situated in a semi-arid area. Animals living in this area have learned to survive and thrive in these harsh conditions. During the past few months, something magical happened though: the rains came (substantially more than in other years) and transformed the park into a green, grassy, lush habitat. As regular Kgalagadi visitors arrive, you can hear their astonishment at the unexpected, new landscape. What’s even more magical is how the animals have adapted to their new environment. No more jackals begging for a piece of meat from your “braai” grid at night. Game can be found throughout the park and is not restricted to staying close to waterholes because food is plentiful and easily available.
The animals’ adaptations to their changed environment reminded me of our new remote working environments since the start of the pandemic and how some of us are still trying to adapt. Maybe we should stop trying to change and mould our environments and rather look at new opportunities to make small changes in how we live in this space. For instance, we’re all stuck in front of digital screens all day. It need not be a burden though. By making small adaptations such as adjusting your notifications settings and screen brightness, you can reduce your sensory overload caused by visual- and auditory input from your digital environment. Or by setting an alarm to go off every 45 minutes, notifying you to stand up and take a digital break away from your devices, you can increase your productivity, resilience, and wellness.
- Make a deliberate choice to incorporate at least one healthy habit into your schedule every day
Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1984, once wisely used the old African proverb “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” What he was trying to explain was that every new task or circumstance in life that seems daunting, overwhelming, and even impossible at first can gradually be accomplished by taking one small step at a time.
Our so-called “new world” is rapidly changing: from separate offices to open-plan offices; open-plan offices to immediate (chaotic, crisis-driven) remote working when the pandemic started; remote working to hybrid working… Who knows what’s coming next?! To not get swept up by these waves of change, we all need loads of resilience to ensure our own sustainability. How do we achieve this? By incorporating simple, effective strategies into our everyday life to promote our own wellness, mental health, and happiness. So whether you need to schedule regular stretch breaks, adjust your digital sound notifications or check in with a friend every day, include (and stick to) daily healthy habits for your own good. It’s the sensible thing to do. If you would like to join our learning revolution and get monthly tips on how to promote your own health and wellness SIGN UP HERE.
I have a renewed respect for Mother Nature following our visit to the Kgalagadi. Go with what life gives you and make small changes to get the best from new situations and environments. Stop fighting change (it’s exhausting anyway), rather embrace it… one bite at a time.