Hiking Log – A Healthy Escape
This is part nine of excerpts from the trail log which was located on a New York portion of the Appalachian trail. For the post which explains this series, click here. To those who have been reading this series on a regular basis, I apologize for the big time gap since my last post. Life sometimes gets in the way of creativity. My creative blockage seems to be behind me for now, so here I am again!
Following is my selection of this week’s thoughts of a hiker.
December 21, 2017
Just doing a local hike from my home in Greenwood Lake. Had to get away from the turmoil in my house. It is always so SERENE to be around NATURE. Hope everyone has a SAFE journey on this trail. Take care ALL and Happy NEW Years.
Merriam-Webster defines turmoil as a “state or condition of extreme confusion, agitation, or commotion.” There are so many ways that people typically deal with such stress. Many of those ways are no good for us: overeating, drinking, drugs, complaining, lashing out at others or ignoring life, to name a few.
Personally, I have found that one of the best ways to deal with turmoil of any sort is through exercise. What makes hiking an even better medication than, for example, time spent on a treadmill, is that it involves nature. Research has been done which indicates spending time in nature can boost our performance, improve our focus and calm our minds. A University of Michigan study showed that memory and attention type-test scores improved by 20% after even a simple walk through a garden.
Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress, anger, fear, and to increase positive feelings. In addition, time outside can improve blood pressure and heart rate. Studies also show that after being outside, people who were depressed or anxious became calmer.
And you don’t even have to hike hard to see benefits. Let’s say life is beating you down. There is some issue that is weighing on you and you just can’t seem to get past it. Take the day off of work. Throw some water and food in a backpack, find a trail, and go. Walk slow if you need to, or fast if that makes you feel better. But be in the moment. Look. Soak in the trees, the path, the physical obstacles, the flowers or greenery. Listen. Hear the birds singing, the squirrels chasing each other, the wind in the branches, the water of a nearby creek or waterfall. Feel. Turn your face upwards to the sun, feel the breeze on your arms, and even embrace perspiration. You are alive. You will be okay.
Trust me, a walk in the woods is guaranteed to help clear your mind. As you walk, you will naturally noodle through whatever is floating around in your head. You will physically feel better, and at the same time, mentally heal. If you don’t feel better after an hour, stay in the woods. Find a place to sit and enjoy a quiet lunch as you watch nature in action.
You cannot help but walk out of the woods in a different state of mind than when you walked in.
So to get back to our writer of this week. He went hiking to get away from turmoil and to find some serenity. I am positive he did just that, and I thank him for sharing his thoughts with all of us. Now get that backpack ready and get going!