Anxiety and Hiking

Have you ever had one of those weeks? You know the one I’m talking about. By Friday you’re ready to either crawl in a hole for the weekend or lash out at the next person you see. That was me a couple weeks back. I had a good week at work. As a matter of fact I had a great week, until…

It seems to work that way doesn’t it. The infamous “until”…

As a social media manager I can get bombarded with a lot of “stuff.” Sometimes the stuff is good, sometimes it’s ok and other times it’s just ridiculous. So by the time Friday hit, after a great week, the day ended with a few messages that left me wanting to run out the door screaming “You’ve got to be kidding me!!”.

When I left work that Friday evening I was more than ready to get outside. I was need of woods time.

The next morning I set out for a good long hike. I headed to Canoe Creek State Park. My intention was to hike the perimeter of the lake. I started at the Fisherman’s trailhead located across from the beach. I crossed the dam where the trail intersected with Sugar Loaf Trail, made my way across the concrete dam, up the hill and back onto the Lakeside trail. Everything was right with the world. I was feeling relaxed and at peace. No stress. No anxiety. Sure it was hot and humid and the bugs were being buggy, but I didn’t care. I was right where I needed to be. I continued my hike around the lake stopping several times to take in the views and simply enjoy being outside. As for the “stuff” that had caused some anxiety, well…it was a blurred image faded in the distance that just didn’t matter.

While we all have those days and weeks where we simply want it to end, there are some of us who can feel the affects even more.

Anxiety… 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health) Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Confession time…I suffer from anxiety, but I hike by faith.

For many who suffer from mental illness it’s difficult to admit or share with others. I know for me it was difficult and can still be difficult depending on the person or situation. For example; if I’m in conversation with someone and they mention it first then I feel more comfortable to share my own struggle with anxiety. But over the years I have become more comfortable telling people my story and struggle with anxiety.

One of the ways I manage my anxiety is through hiking and backpacking. It’s why I started Hike By Faith. It’s my desire to promote hiking for the overall health benefits; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It’s been proven that nature has healing effects for those who suffer a mental illness. So I hike on. I hike by faith because it’s something I absolutely enjoy AND it helps me to manage my anxiety, clears my head, improves my memory, generates creative thinking, forms community, and keeps me in shape.

Remember, life is like hiking, one step at a time.

 

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