Away for the day—nature’s answer to man’s challenges
Life throws a lot of punches. If you’re putting yourself out there—and we hope you are!—you’re bound to get hit once or twice.
As we journey through manhood, guys often have moments when we feel low. Tired. Stuck. And exploring the great Canadian wilderness with a few friends can be just the escape you need.
Leaving behind the day-to-day hubbub for a change of scenery gives you space (figuratively and literally) to reflect on life’s changes. And nature’s vastness reminds you of just how big and full of possibilities the world is, which is easy to forget when we’re thinking about careers, fatherhood, retirement, or anything else that’s weighing us down.
Add a few friends, and you get the type of casual, relaxed atmosphere for male bonding and social support that researchers say men crave but have difficulty cultivating. It’s good for our mental health, and it’s also just plain fun.
- lower your stress
- boost your mood
- increase your testosterone through exercise and vitamin D (low testosterone often leads to low energy and fuzzy thinking)
- burn calories (bye, dad bod)
You don’t have to ask your boss (or partner) for a week off to bond with the boys. A quick daytrip is all you need to break out of your physical or mental rut and shift your life.
Step 1: Choose your own adventure
Canada offers unparalleled choices for a guys’ getaway.
Feel like throwing on some flannel and embracing your inner woodsman with your buddies? According to the Nature Conservancy, 94 percent of us live within an hour’s drive of some of Canada’s most beautiful forests, lakes, and wild vistas.
Craving a more urban experience? Canada’s Great Trail is the world’s largest network of walking, hiking, and biking trails. Eight out of 10 Canadians live within 30 minutes of the trail.
Narrow your adventure options by considering what you’re craving most.
Think about what you feel your life’s missing, then brainstorm activities that exemplify that trait. It’s a powerful way to use embodied cognition to “think through your body” and achieve personal breakthroughs.
A confidence boos
Feeling discouraged? Get your adrenalin pumping and challenge yourself with rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and other feats of bravado.
Long work week? New baby keeping you up all night? Hike to natural hot springs or secluded lakes for a chill time with the lads.
Missing that spark? Try something that requires creative, technical wit, such as mushroom foraging or fly fishing.
See the world through new lenses by going diving, kayaking, or spelunking.
Adventure around the corner
Social media and websites such as AllTrails and Tripadvisor can reveal places you’ve yet to explore in your own backyard. And don’t discount guidebooks—they aren’t just for tourists!
Step 2: Plan ahead
Don’t let your daytrip turn into Lord of the Flies.
Designate clear roles
This is especially important if you have a few friends who like to be in control. Who’s plotting the hiking route? Who knows how to build a fire?
Enjoy the ride
Some of the best adventures are a few hours out of town. You’d be surprised how much sightseeing you can squeeze in along the route.
Be sure you’re prepared for the daytrip’s weather and challenges. You don’t want to be that guy who thinks he’s too tough for sunscreen.
Step 3: Embrace the adventure
Once you’re at the trailhead, basic stretches including a standing quad stretch, hamstring stretch, and shoulder rolls will get you warmed up and ready for a day of fun.
Then, embrace the adventure and all it has to offer.
Leave the distracting phone or camera in your backpack.
Engage all five senses to soak in your surroundings. It’s during these moments that men get those breakthroughs we’re craving.
Run with your wolf pack
Help each other over obstacles. Cheer each other on. Teamwork fosters camaraderie and connection—so critical for men’s mental health.
Step 4: Inspire the next generation
Your quest for comradery and adventure models a love of physical activity and the great outdoors.
Having a same-gendered role model is linked with improved achievement in kids, and children and young men benefit from seeing other men embrace healthy habits.
Men who regularly exercised before they became dads have children who are healthier, even into adulthood. And parents who don’t model regular movement and healthy diet tend to have children who are more at risk of being unhealthy and sedentary.
After you’ve come down from your daytrip high, don’t keep those good vibes to yourself. Talk with your children about the physical and mental benefits you’re experiencing. Invite them on skill-appropriate adventures. Have fun, knowing, too, that you’re serving as a great role model by raising the next generation to love exploring Canada’s outdoors.
Daytrip like a pro
Get pumped for your daytrip with some retail therapy. Visit a local shop for new, eco-friendly gear. Staff at these stores are also often happy to share the area’s hidden gems.
Adventure stirs a man’s appetite. Bring light snacks that are heavy on nutrition: trail mix, dehydrated fruit, jerky, nut bars.
Rise with (or before) the sun. If you head out mid-morning, you’ve already lost a third of the day.
Change it up
Seize the moment. Don’t be afraid to deviate from your plans if you stumble across a new sight along the way.
Cheers to the day’s adventures. Studies have found beer surprisingly hydrating after a workout. Recap the day with friends, and self-reflect on how great you feel after your daytrip.
A peak performance lifestyle
Commit to daily activity
Weekend warriors are more at risk of injuries. Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Eat a healthy diet
Overhauling an otherwise unhealthy diet with an extra salad and protein shake the day before your adventure won’t cut it. A healthy diet, focusing on healthy plant-based foods and minimizing processed foods, provides the nutritional foundation you need for maximum performance.
B-complex vitamins may help support men’s mental health and mood as well as athletic performance. Other supplements to consider include rhodiola, L-theanine, and ashwagandha.