How a Solo Hike Can Help You Clear Your Mental Cobwebs

Lockdown has been tough on us all. Whether you’ve been cooped up in a small city flat or had the garden to relax in during our collective 18-month ordeal, we’ve all felt stuck at some point.

So with lockdown easing, and the jabs being distributed amongst the public, how do we get back to ‘normal’?

Personally, I’ve been hiking on my own for the past few months, and though I’ve tried in this post, I’m not sure I can convey how much this pulled me from of my lockdown funk.

So why do I think you should get your butt out there?

Exercise is good for mental health.

Studies have shown that the lockdown and shutdowns have had negative effects on mental health across the globe. Even the most introverted of people need some human contact and engagement. It’s in our nature.

Exercise is one of those catch-22 predicaments when it comes to mental health. It’s good for you and can help reduce stress, clear brain fog and reduce anxiety. But when you’re in the middle of a mental funk, anxiety attack or depression, it’s tough to find the motivation to do anything at all. And, of course, it isn’t an instant fix, more of a gradual build.

So venturing onto the hills, mountains or even into the local streets can help to boost your mental wellbeing.

Mindfulness can help you relax.

Along with exercise, being mindful can help reduce and manage anxiety. We’ve heard that clearing your mind and being with yourself can help with relaxation, but the proof is in the pudding. Apps focussing on mindfulness and calm have been doing well in downloads during the lockdowns.

Calm – a subscription based mindfulness app – has doubled its subscribers in just one year, and the number of downloads more than doubled.

You don’t have to pay to play, though. YouTube, Spotify and your podcast app will be able to provide access to some great content without the additional cost. Personally, I use Calm most evenings before bed, and it really helps me destress from the day.

Circling back to solo hiking, walking on your own and be with your thoughts can be a really mindful experience. When you’re alone, you’ll have time to straighten out any thoughts or feelings you’ve not had time to deal with yet.

If hiking feels like too much, coffee, dinner or a short evening walk alone can be a good introduction to being alone.

Outside is where we thrive.

Breathing fresh air and experiencing nature first-hand is good for the soul. Being outside is natural to us, but unfortunately, we spend too much time inside. Especially since the many lockdowns of the last 18 months have ensured all we see are the four exterior walls of our homes!

Discover somewhere you’ve never been before! Our natural curiosity is a blessing. Even in the local area, you’re likely to come across some new experiences.

I met my sister for coffee recently in our hometown, and as we wandered back to her car, we spotted an old water pump, restored in 2012, which neither of us had seen before. This pump was not in working order but had a plaque on it stating this is where the original water pump for the area used to stand in the 1800s. We couldn’t believe this was less than a mile from the house we spent our teenage years in!

You may think you know all there is to know about your area, so get out and let your curiosity run free!

Getting to know yourself and what you need is essential.

This works in tandem with the mindfulness section of this post. Taking some time to get to know yourself is overlooked when we think about self care. When spending time alone, you can learn what you like and dislike, without any external influences.

Spending time with friends has its own benefits. For one, being friendly and filling a room with laughter are huge upsides, but being on your own can mean there are no external pressures to do or feel a certain way.

When you’re hiking alone, you make the calls on how often stop, snack, take a picture; without feeling you’re inconveniencing anyone else.

After going on my solo hike, I took my partner the same route to show him how fantastic the walk was, and though I thoroughly enjoyed walking with him, this was very different from walking by myself. We stayed slightly longer at the pub than I would have, and when considering pausing, there was a small voice in my head concerned it would inconvenience him! Simply, when I’m with someone, I’m considerate of their feelings, whether they want to take a break or not etc., when I’m alone, it’s all about what I want.

So just do it!

Plan a short hike on your own, and let me know how it goes in the comments! I honestly cannot recommend it enough!

Have you already done a solo hike? Let me know below!

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