5 Ways You Can Choose To Be Wild Every Day

Wilderness is a state of mind.

By: National Outdoor Leadership School
April 28, 2016

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If you’ve spent any time in the wilderness, you’re familiar with that special feeling it gives you. It’s important to understand that Wilderness isn’t just a physical place like an empty shoreline or a quiet grove of trees—it’s a state of mind, too.

As much as we’d like to stay in the wilderness and hold on to that feeling, for most of us, that’s just not realistic. A million things pull us back to our lives in civilization and make it difficult to head to the wilderness.

For those days when you can’t get away, here are a few things you can do to help yourself be wild every day.


1. Sleep Outside

Camp at Red Rock | Photo: Moe Lauchert

You don’t have to go on a big trip to enjoy sleeping under the stars. Whether it’s in your backyard or just opening all the windows in your home, sleeping amid fresh air can capture that sense of exposure that makes sleeping in the wilderness different than sleeping indoors. You can up the ante by whipping out your camp stove and cooking outside—or, even easier, just take your dinner outside.

2. Put Your Phone Away

Your phone is one of your greatest connections to the world. Let it go for a while—actually turn it off or leave it behind when you head out the door—and you can imitate the timelessness and solitude of the wilderness. Enjoy not knowing how much time has passed and base your actions on your internal sense of time rather than your alarm. Just be sure to let friends and family know that you’re going radio-silent so they don’t worry too much when you don’t respond.

5 Reasons Why You Should Unplug On Your Next Adventure | Photo: Austin Trigg

3. Take Out Your Headphones

Making your routine a little wild isn’t only about escape. We like wearing headphones because they help us create a bit of distance from the (sometimes unpleasant) surroundings of life in town. In the wilderness, you’re acutely aware of your surroundings and taking in all the sounds and signals around you. Take out your headphones as you walk down the street or clean the house and you will tune in to what’s happening around you. It helps you pay more attention and appreciate all the mundane aspects of your daily routine.

4. Get Dirty

Being comfortable with dirt and body smells is a bittersweet part of outdoor living. Letting yourself get dirty (ideally doing something fun, like going for a run in the rain or playing around with your kids) and then letting yourself stay dirty for a bit will get you right back to your wild, dirt-loving self. (Not to say that you shouldn’t wash your hands—you can be hygienic without being squeaky clean).

7 Tips For Planning Your Perfect Day Trip | Photo: Joe Whitson

5. Plan a Trip

It’s important to dream about your next adventure and visualize where you want to go. Big trips that actually take you to wilderness take a lot of planning and commitment, so making a habit of preparing for the next trip will make sure that the summer weather doesn’t pass you by.

Need some wildness? NOLS can get you there. Visit our course finder today.

Cover photo: Nick Tort

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.