Hiking season is upon us. You can hike anywhere–the beach, the woods, up a mountain or through a meadow.
There are many benefits to hiking outside. One is increased neurotransmitter levels that help you feel more joyful and alert. Being submerged in the sights and sounds that are the natural environment also lowers your blood pressure. It’s also good physical exercise and helps with your cardiovascular health.
After a long, stressful week I went on an overnight backpacking adventure last weekend. We hiked six miles into the forest. With each step I was reminded of forest bathing, a treatment of simply walking in the woods that is used in Japan to reduce stress. Along the hike to our campsite we encountered many different sights and sounds. The sunset turned the sky to orange and shades of purple. It was amazing. I was calm and in the moment.
Later, we went on a night hike to refill our water supply at a pond about a mile away. The sounds of the frogs and toads were a symphony to my ears. Now the stress was really melting away. The next morning my body felt the miles from the previous day. My elevated level of enjoyment helped me move past the fatigue and I was ready for another hike. When we reached the end of the weekend the group was happy, smiling and hungry for lunch. On the ride home we shared our personal experiences of the hike. At home we unpacked and I felt lighter, refreshed and happy. The stress was gone.
Sometimes we over complicate what it takes to be well. Sometimes it’s as easy as a walk to someplace beautiful. Get out there and go for a hike at your local park or on a trek. Relax, have fun and let your human nature shine.