You don’t have to go it alone. Grab a friend, neighbor, or family member for more fun on the trail. Hiking with a friend can improve the strength and health of your relationship, or it could be an opportunity to see if the friendship has run its course. Exercising together can produce special feelings of closeness—and a sense of safety.With all the social distancing, cancelled events, and closures as of late, now more than ever we need to connect with real people in person whenever possible. Doing so out in the fresh air is ideal! On the flip side, if too much quarantine togetherness has you craving alone time, just be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return — just in case. And for anyone who spends a lot of time caregiving for other people, it can be rejuvenating to let go of that responsibility for a bit and take to a trail. After all, it can’t help but refresh you when you give yourself a break, making you more emotionally available to others afterward.
It’s a scientific fact: going for long, serene hikes is ridiculously good for your brain. In fact, walking through mother nature exercises your mind just as much as it works out your body. Being in nature can boost your mood and improve mental health. Spending quality time in the great outdoors reduces stress, calms anxiety, and can lead to a lower risk of depression. Keep your phone in your pocket. No screen time on your hike. No news. No negativity. Just you (and perhaps a friend or pet) communing with Mother Nature for a while. Break free from formalities and deadlines and enjoy what’s around you. Enjoy the peace and quiet. Notice the plants and animals you encounter. Notice the smells and sounds that are unique to being outdoors. In short, unplugging from technology and engaging with mother nature can be a powerful (and even necessary) activity for your brain. Plus, it also just makes you feel happier.
No Special Equipment Needed
Other than dressing appropriately for the weather and wearing a comfy pair of shoes (although hiking gaiters or snake gaiters or snow gaiters are wise when necessary), you don’t need special gear for hiking. Take water and a snack. If venturing into true wilderness, you’ll want a backpack that contains these 10 essentials: map, compass, flashlight, knife, water, food, clothing, first aid kit, matches/firestarter, sunglasses. A good rule of thumb is that whenever you venture into the woods, be prepared to spend the night. Of course you hope you never have to, but in case of an emergency, you’ll be OK.
So there you have it — many reasons to get out and take a hike this season. Grab a few items you probably already own, and, if you want, a friend, and head out on the trail.
You won’t be sorry you did!