Life can be brutal, even when everything seems to be going right. If you have an office job it really doesn’t take long for those walls to close in around you. Even on the most productive days it can feel claustrophobic when you’re surrounded by people + windows + computers + coffee cups.

Some blame the office, but even if you’re not hanging out at a desk all day, the responsibilities of any career or job can be smothering. I say this a someone who works in an emergency room. We get to avoid the commonly complained about office requirements — uncomfortable business attire, hours of sitting + mindless computer work. Instead, we’re on our feet all day, only sitting when it’s required for setting a broken bone or snag a bit of lunch. It’s a completely different setting than what I expected when I initially graduated college with a business degree.

That said, it still makes me completely crazy some days. I’m indoors, all day long. I work 10 to 12 hours days at a fast pace, surrounded by intense situations. I rarely get to truly sit down to enjoy the warmth of my lunch. Don’t get me wrong, I love many aspects of what I do, but sometimes I need a little recoup time.

This is why I get outside!

With the recent holiday craze the emergency room has been especially demanding. There’s no denying it has worn on all of us, physically + emotionally. Luckily we’ve all found a pretty common ground to connect + recharge…getting outside!

When I know I’m headed into a long day I’ll leave work a tiny bit early, park in a pull off near the lake + head out onto the trail for a few minutes of cold, icy solitude. Last time I only got about 4 minutes of outside time in, but it gave me a bit of hope for life. I was surrounded by snow capped mountains, steamy lake clouds + a fiery red sunrise. While the chaos of the emergency room was inevitable, so was the peace of the great outdoors. This was my reminder.

We rarely get to see the outdoors once we arrive for a shift, at least not without putting forth an effort. Our emergency room is special — it’s at the base of a ski resort + ski patrol will bring patients directly into our back door. This means we get to head outside to move patients from the patrol sleds to our beds. Yay, sunshine! I won’t lie, sometimes we’ll head outside as soon as we hear patrol call over the radio, just so we can get a few extra rays of sunshine before the patient arrives.

We’ve also been known to take 45 second breathers just to walk a brisk lap around our small medical building, even if it means tromping through snow + returning with wet, cold socks. This isn’t an impressive adventure by any means, but it involves getting outside.

Getting outside has a magical effect on the human soul.

Even when our time outside is short + a bit rushed, it is vital to our daily survival in the intense chaos of an emergency room. We never know when then expected will become traumatic or when the traumatic will become routine. This keeps us all on our toes, emotionally + mentally, which is extremely taxing.

Yet, at the end of the day, the outdoors is always there. The sun will always rise, the mountains will always greet us, the trails will always wind through the wilderness.

In a life of chaos, whether in the emergency room or an office cubicle or aboard an airplane…one thing is always certain. The outdoors.

This is why I get outside. It reminds me to take a deep breath + focus on what I can depend upon. The wilderness is vast + unknown, yet the wilderness never fails to meet my expectations.