How Hiking Can Kill Anxiety, Depression, and Build Resilience

This process takes routine and patience, but the reward is well worth the journey. If you do something that makes you feel better, kills anxiety and depression, brings a sense of appreciation to life, and helps to quiet the negative voices in your head, I assure you that you will want to do it again.

Hiking and Nature have been my drug of choice through the tough times in my life. They could be used as a tool in making you more resilient to stress that hasn’t hit you yet.

Kill Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety is caused by a fear of the future and the decisions we have to make. Depression is caused by our past experiences, or thoughts of the past.

So we sit there, in the moment, with our significant others, with family, or even at the gym, but we are distracted by the sour thoughts of our past and the fear of what our future may hold. It causes us to miss what is in front of us, it depreciates the appreciation for what we hold right now. So what do we do? Distract ourselves with electronics, feed the depression with junk food, and avoid spending time to look within ourselves.

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Nature has a way of forcing you to center yourself. Studies show that walking itself gives us an immediate decrease in tension, anxiety, and blood pressure (1). It brings us to a state of Zen, when the mind does not dwell on any one thing. We are forced to watch our step, to breathe in fresh air, to look within and be with our own thoughts.

If you randomly stopped someone on the street in an attempt to just have a conversation, you would get a weird look of “why are you talking to me right now?” When you are in a park, a trail, around any wildlife, suddenly people become approachable. At the very least you get a head nod and smile, most often a conversation will spark up. It only shows how nature can help bring us together, bring a sense of calmness to the everyday “GO GO GO” routine.

Build Resilience

We are often reactive creatures. We respond to what happens. We get hit with an unexpected bill, so we let go of recreational pleasures that bring us happiness in the first place. We don’t spend time improving on our mental health during the time we feel okay, then wonder why we break. We get hit during training and turn away. We feel stressed? We react with anger, frustration, anxiety, or perhaps begin to abuse food, alcohol or worse.IMG_4847

Instead, we should be proactive, building mental toughness and resilience. Developing toughness means you have to push yourself past failure, to the point where you want to stop, you want to quit, but you keep going anyways. Not everyone is capable of constantly testing this boundary, but something as simple as hiking and regularly spending time with yourself  will improve your resilience. Hiking could be the meditation you lack. You will walk away with a thicker sheet of armor for the next time stress comes your way. You will withstand more pain, shrug off the small problems, and have more energy for important decisions.

Find a trail near you:

http://www.everytrail.com/best/hiking-trails

1. National Center for Health Statistics, Healthy People in Healthy Communities, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2001.

Today we begin forging our bodies and
strengthening our minds.

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