by Lee Flynn
The idea of walking in nature for recreation started in the 18th century greatly thanks to the Romantic movement taking place at the time. During the 19th century, more and more people went on long walks, and when industrialization hit, people began escaping the polluted cities for hikes in the countryside.
All across the world, hiking has become a popular outdoor activity. People are discovering and acknowledging how good the time spent walking in nature makes them feel, both physically and mentally. Besides strengthening the physique and leaving hikers with amazing memories, hiking gives tremendous relief to people who look to escape everyday hurdles, anxiety, and stress. Here are the few ways in which the mountain helps its visitors clear their mind.
Healing the mind through the body
Nature grants its visitors numerous physical benefits. The walking, combined with the increased oxygen intake, improves cardiovascular functioning and increases antioxidative capacity. This helps in the prevention of diseases and the recovery of patients after a long illness or harsh treatment. Taking in deeper breaths as a result of the work of the muscles helps relieve stress and anxiety in much the same way as some healing systems, like yoga, do. The condition of the body is correlated to mental health and through exercising the body, the mind also finds relief.
Humans are social by nature. Forming bonds with others gives one a sense of belonging and pulls a person away from thoughts that are disturbing. Nothing is easier than creating bonds in the natural outdoors while walking. Free from phones and other gadgets to disturb the flow of communication, the mountain gives a space for being together with others in a way that is impossible in the big city. In the quietness of nature, a person can become more aware of the patterns that block them from experiencing a sense of companionship with others. Many health programs use wilderness therapy because it makes everyone in the therapy group feel equal and opens patients up to the staff members by building trust in them as equals.
Awaken the creative self
Artists and creative people know well that a strong connection to nature is the battery that keeps their creativity alive. This is not restricted solely to art but also to creative ways of tackling life situations. There is a flow in nature and coming into sync with this flow helps unlock ideas and inspiration on how to solve challenging situations or just receive an inspiration about which path in life to take when on a personal crossroad.
Drop depression and increase happiness
Hiking has helped people with severe depression cope with their condition. Many people going through very tough life situations, like a relationship breakup or major life change, have found a sanctuary in nature. Going on a long hike, in particular, makes one symbolically put aside their bag of worries and concerns at the beginning of the trail, distance themselves from tough life situation for some time, and at the end of the trail be left with some fresh ideas and a different perspective of their situation. Many people who start hiking go on to live more active lifestyle overall, giving them a deeper sense of purpose and contentment.
The beauty of nature through the eyes of the observer
Going on a hike and unplugging ourselves for some time from the technological world we have been dispersed in is a true adventure which gives the hiker more than what is expected. The feeling of being on your own and depending on your own senses creates a greater feeling of connection and trust in the self. The changing, natural scenery leaves impressions that last and heal the spirit.
Whatever the reason for hitting the trails, all seasons and places of nature are great for refreshing the mind and having a great adventure. Whether alone, with a friend, or with a group, the experience is different but always one that you will remember and want to repeat again.