10 Ways For Nature Lovers To Stay Sane In A Big City

Don't let the city drive you crazy.

By: Spencer Madden + Save to a List

So you consider yourself a nature lover, an outdoor enthusiast and a tree-hugger? Awesome! There is only one slight issue: you live in the city. While some city dwellers are blessed by being able to get to the mountains after work, many of us only have the luxury of exploring on weekends and holidays. At times, the noise, the pollution and the continuous motion of city life can be overwhelming. How can you stay sane and still keep stoked for your weekend adventures?

Rocky cliffs fill the right side of the image while a body of water is on the left. The sky covers half the photo, and clouds stretch in lines from the upper left toward the cliffs on the bottom right.
Photo: Scott Kranz

1. Explore a new park

All cities have beautiful parks. Many cities contain hidden gems where you can detox from the daily grind. Look up your hometown on Google Maps and search for green pockets. Then go check it out – you never know what will be revealed.

2. Walk your dog

Time spent with your dog is proven to reduce stress and increase the release of feel good hormones. Whether you take them to a dog park, or just stroll around your community, walking Fido is a great way to keep the city sensory overload at bay. Don’t have a dog? Offer to walk your busy buddy’s pup.

3. Fire up Planet Earth

Brew up your favourite beverage, grab your significant other or friends and press play on Planet Earth. Watching documentaries about the outdoors will help fuel your desire to get outside on the weekends while helping you relax. We recommend sticking to positive outdoor shows if your stress level is creeping up. Pro tip: mix in a bit of fitness before and after watching to keep limber for the weekends.

A city stretches as far as the image shows. The sky is orange, purple, and pink like the sun is setting or rising.
Photo: Jameson Jones

4. Train insane

Grab your sneakers, pop in your favourite mixtape and go running. Do pushups, burpies and wind-sprints. Move your body, let it grow stronger and feel your heart race. Efficient and smart training will make you feel great and sleep better. A nice side effect is that you will be ready to crush up and down mountains on the weekend.

5. Snap, snap, snap

Spend time working on your photography and your videography. Whether it is walking around your neighbourhood, working on portraits in your basement, or building your Photoshop portfolio, continuous practice of your art will translate into increased creativity when you venture into the wild.

6. Research

All of us who are part of the Outbound Collective are constantly researching our next adventure. Whether it's cruising the blogs scoping the latest #TheOutbound and #EveryoneOutside tags on Instagram, or curling up with the latest adventure magazine, researching will help you stay sane in the city. Start by downloading The Outbound App to see what outdoor adventures are near you. 

A city is silhouetted against a blue sky.
Photo: Mr. Seb

7. Use your green thumb

Taking care of a garden is proven to reduce anxiety. If you have space, plant some flowers and veggies. Show the planet some love and plant some saplings. I guarantee you will feel great taking care of your little plot. In an apartment? Check out your local community garden. This is a triple win: you get to plant, you can learn from others, and you can make new friends.

8. Give back

One of the most effective ways to stay sane in the city is to volunteer. As an outdoor junkie, look for organizations such as Scouts, Girl Guides, or becoming a nature guide. Sharing your hard-won outdoor knowledge with others is a great feeling. You may just inspire someone to follow you into the wild!

9. Namaste

Get yourself to a yoga class. Whether it is river yoga, hot yoga, or simple mediation, the practice of yoga is beneficial for the mind, body and spirit. Not only will you feel relaxed and recharged afterwards, you will feel the presence of Mother Nature significantly more when you return to the wilderness. Be warned: this tip will change your life and can lead to increased city sanity.

10. Go birding

One cool thing about cities is that they attract birds. Begin a quest to see all of the birds that are found in your city. This can be a lifelong obsession once you get going. Keep a counter of all the birds you’ve seen in a year. Looking back, you will be amazed at how much stress disappeared and passed by as you were busy searching for that elusive blue jay

For the outdoor enthusiast, the city can be a tough place to live. However, many of us have important reasons to live in the city such as family, a great job and friends. Make the most of your time with the above tips and train yourself to stay sane in the big city. It will make your time in the wilderness that much more special.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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