How Hiking Could Help Cope With Anxiety & Depression?
When people are battling with depression and anxiety, I understand the tough phase, difficulties in day to day activities and various irregularities that change the cycle of life. Because I have been there! But thanks to a dear friend who asked me to join him for hiking in the Himalayas where I learnt not only the health benefits of hiking but also the psychological benefits. Since then, I don’t know if I will ever stop, moreover I don’t want to!
Through this article, I want to be that friend of yours who wants you to take the nearest hiking trail, no matter how much your heart says No to it. Well, I might not be an expert here but these are my experiences which could be learned for your own good. So if you wish to seek how hiking could help coping anxiety and depression, keep scrolling below.
Personally, I hiked for 10 days in the depths of the Himalayas, stayed with locals, enjoyed food & local drinks and it overall changed my perspective towards living life. Yes, it now means living life to the fullest. In fact, learning how to set up our own tent, escaping from a hailstorm, drinking fresh river water and smiling at the sunrise were few things irreplaceable.
Below are the lessons combined with experiences. I believe that you would certainly try this once in a lifetime and start making things better for yourself.
How Hiking Helps Coping Anxiety & Depression?
1.Disconnects From The World To Reconnect With Yourself
Have you realized that you are always occupied with phones, messages, television, laptop or radio around? Without even knowing, constant beeps and calling from people makes you more irritable and you don’t get time to ponder upon self while improving the quality of life.
If you tie your boots and pack your bags for the trail, there is a chance of a low network but the sound of chirping birds and soothing sight of greens may help you with a new vision. You can even keep your phone on silent for some time and try to restore thoughts. Don’t rush with anything, just tell yourself “I am happy and I am enjoying everything I have.”
2. Challenge Yourself And Win Over
Hiking and trekking may not be a cup of tea for everyone but challenging and winning over it is a game changer. You may be able to see the top but reaching to the top is not just a mood booster but also gives you self-confidence of doing something which a lot of people haven’t even thought about.
All your failures and disappointments may have burdened you but life never stops. You are capable of finding a way out from every situation, no matter how rough the terrain be. I learnt that this is one of the most important psychological benefits of hiking.
3. The Only Competition Is YOU
Another important lesson or benefit of hiking that I realized is that it’s we who stop ourselves from doing something or winning. It is our own efforts that let us reach to the top of the world. If we get scared of the height and refrain from taking the steps, we are responsible for the same. I have completely stopped blaming anyone else or even myself after being a trekker.
Moreover, when you are hiking, there is no pressure to perform. You are on your own and your struggles alone can teach you various perspectives even in a day. Trust yourself!
4. Relieves Stress & Promotes Physical Health
Depression and stress causes body and mental stagnation and we are incapable of realizing the consequences. Health benefits of hiking include muscle flexibility, low weight, resilience and overall improves the mood.
A research in 2013 combined by the Global Coalition of Aging and U.S. Travel Association showed that traveling promotes healthy aging and chances of heart risk reduces by a huge percentage.
5. Encourages Interaction
Do not worry if you don’t have a lot of friends to share your life as hiking into the wild may let you meet fellow trekkers to share a new version of life. Moreover, this cultural exchange gives you new ideas and you may plan to visit their city to enjoy the described culture.
For example, trekking for days in the old villages helped me to meet locals where I attended their cultural activities, tasted home-made rice & jaggery wine and even cuisines. Delicious and mesmerizing are the only words that come to my mind now!
BONUS: Hiking Is Affordable
Now this suits everyone! Hiking needs you to spend money only to reach the base point. Hitchhiking may help you with that as well. Filling your small bag with a water bottle and homemade snacks are enough, depending on the number of days and people. Another health and psychological benefit of hiking is here! So, a few pennies and your life lessons are learnt well and good.
IMPORTANT LESSON I LEARNT: No matter how high you reach, you can see various other peaks around you. I chose to stay calm with the place I reached and stayed there to enjoy my day. Moreover, someday I know I have to get down. So I came back, settled with my life, earned money, started smiling with people and once again went to another hike, to explore a new peak, a new challenge and had words of peace and encouragement with myself.
I hope it helps!
Well, I am sure you would challenge yourself to take the next hike, of course after keeping weather in mind, and improve your confidence. Love yourself more and let us know how this article helped you and have you got the idea of the health and psychological benefits of hiking.
P.S. I am smiling after my first hiking went successful and the sky is clear post Himalayan hailstorms.
Tada! Take Care.
You may like These Also: