How Hiking helps mental health
In freshman year of high school, I did a project testing if hiking really does what people say it does. I hiked for about a half an hour to an hour everyday after school, and tracked the effects on me.
First, I found that after all the walks, I was able to complete my homework faster than if I didn’t. Of course I came home later, so it would be a later time than usual but I think the quality of my work was much better. I think that was because I had a boost of creativity and I let go of the stresses of school. It was hard to keep this up, and even harder when I was tired and in a bad mood. But, I found if I pushed through that, taking a walk in nature helped myself relax and put my life in a new perspective.
Walking in nature helped widen my focus to see how small my stresses were compared to what life has to offer. When I had anxiety and stress about something that happened with friends or schoolwork, it helped me get that off my mind and focus on what is important and what makes me happy. I was able to have more positive thoughts and overall be in a better mood when I got home.
This project was a big commitment. I did not keep this going because it just turned out to be too time consuming for my school life. But since then, I have made an effort to go outside when I am feeling stuck and lacking creativity. It is hard to motivate myself to get up and go sometimes, but I know it will be worth it.
All these positive impacts, all for just taking a half hour out of your day to go walk outside. I encourage everyone to find a path near them and try it out. Some people like to be alone and some like to go with someone. If that’s the case, find a running buddy! I like to invite my friends to walk or run a path with me to spend time with them. Good ideas could be a charity run or a challenging group hike! Especially if you are feeling like you are in a creative rut, go outside and breathe in fresh air. You may just find the idea you were searching for.