World of Barefoot

29 April 2021

ESCape to connect

ESCape to connect

I never used to understand the term “connected”. Actually, it used to annoy me a bit when people would say, “He’s so connected.” Or, “How grounded of him.” I would be like, “What are you on about, you hippy?!” I felt like it was some kind of exclusive club that I somehow didn’t get and so, like a lot of stuff we don’t understand, I wrote it off as wishy-washy mumbo jumbo. 

But having lived through the extraordinary tumult this global coronavirus pandemic has been, I might be changing my mind. I read the result of a recent study into families living through Covid-19, and the results showed there are three key behavioural patterns associated with high levels of resilience. One is having strong, meaningful relationships, another is a tendency to get outside and explore, the last was a tendency to make or repair rather than consume. 

To me, all of these are actually intertwined. When the first UK lockdown eased off, three out-of-work friends and I decided to film some bushcraft masterclasses in the woods. We had complimentary skill sets: cameraman, bushcraft instructor, editor and presenter; so we took some tents and went to live in the woods to create. 

In a fairly stressful time of no income they were some of my happiest moments of 2020 (as well as having twin girls of course!). The combination of coming together to make beautiful films about how to work and live in nature just all made sense. We’d sit by the fire in the evening, chatting and bonding and yes, I´ll admit, “connected” took on new meaning. It didn´t seem so wishy-washy after all. 

Being alone can potentially be a fearful and frightening place, full of worry and anxiety. But together, especially in nature, it’s a completely different energy… in sync with the world around you, full of happiness and opportunity. 

I´ve been labelled a “survival expert” for years now, but we’re all always learning, and I learned so much this summer, refining my bushcraft skills in a way I immediately realised was also having an incredibly positive effect on my mental health. I realised it was in not just learning about, but interacting with nature that was making such a positive difference.

If you can walk into woods, confident you have the knowledge to source the right wood to make a fire-by-friction set, with the experience to get a fire going with matches - its liberating. Stripping back and returning to a more natural way of life just gives you a boost of confidence – it really is an extraordinary gift.

We need this more than ever this year. An extraordinary one in three adults have been prescribed anti-depressants this year. Being isolated has taken an extraordinary toll on all of us. 

What do we need? To get outdoors, with people that you love, connect - and make something amazing. It’s that simple.