Top 5 Mental Health Benefits of Hiking & How To Practice Mindfulness On The Trail

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Do you want to feel less stressed, more focused, and even happier in your everyday life?

Picture this: you're away from your desk and out in nature. Dirt crunches under your feet with each step you take, each one step closer to a scenic vista. Your heart's pumping, your whole body is working.

And all around you: nature. Trees standing tall. Wildflowers blooming. Large birds soaring overhead. The sun shining a blanket of warmth, and the wind blowing at all the right times. You're on a hike.

Sounds pretty nice, right?

It's even better in real life.

In fact, doctors, scientists and researchers are all finding that spending time in nature has a positive impact on your mental and physical health. 

In this blog, we'll explore new studies that explain the importance of stepping away from your day-to-day and trekking into the great outdoors. Keep reading to find proof that hiking can make you feel happier and healthier - and how you can start practicing mindfulness on the trail right now.

Top 5 Mental Health Benefits of Hiking

Did you know hiking can have a positive impact on your brain?

Spending time in nature has been proven to…

  • Boost creativity
  • Induce a state of presence and peace
  • Reduce stress, anxiety and feelings of depression
  • Increase feelings of happiness and contentment

And so much more.

Hiking heals. Keep reading to discover the Top 5 Mental Health Benefits of Hiking right now.

 

#1. Hiking Inspires Positive Thinking.

Do you ever find yourself in a sea of negative thoughts?

Rumination, or negative thinking, can be debilitating. It starts as a thought and spreads like a cancer, affecting every area of your life. Before long, you might find yourself feeling low, alone, lost.

According to multiple studies, this style of thinking can play a role in mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. 

Luckily, there’s a free antidote for anytime you feel this way. It’s called nature.

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order”

John Burroughs

That's right: going on a hike can help you shift your awareness away from negative thoughts and emotions. According to a research paper published by Landscape and Urban Planning, nature effectively reduces rumination and the anxiety associated with it.

As you can see, nature has the power to put your negative thoughts on hold so you can enjoy the present moment. 

#2. Hiking Helps You Practice Presence.

How often are you present throughout the day?

Being present isn't easy to do, especially with all the distractions present in today's society. But what happens when you step away from the distractions and into nature?

According to a study by the University of British Columbia, when you step into the wilderness, you give your mind an opportunity to step outside itself. 

Taking a hike can create the same effect you experience during or after meditation. You might notice yourself feeling extra calm, incredibly grateful, completely accepting, or best yet: your mind goes blank and you feel nothing at all.

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

John Muir

Instead of dwelling on yesterday's meeting or what you'll make for dinner, hiking brings you into the only moment that exists: the one you're in right now. During this moment, you are free of worry or doubt. You are at one with your surroundings and with yourself. 

Hiking gives you the rare opportunity to unplug so you can practice presence. When you are truly present, you are truly at peace.

#3. Hiking Makes You Happy.

Are you ready to be happy?

Take a hike. Literally.

When your thoughts are positive and you're living in the present moment, it's hard not to be happy. And as you just learned, hiking can help you do just that.

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."

- Albert Einstein

Hikers of all ages report feelings of happiness. In fact, adults and children can both equally benefit from going on a hike.

According to a study by the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, spending time in nature can help kids and teens...

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Decrease feelings of depression
  • Improve overall mental health 

Take a hike and be happy. What starts as happiness on the trails might just transcend into happiness in your everyday life.

 

#4. Hiking Invites You To Slow Down

Do you ever get overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of life?

Spending time outside is an an opportunity for you to unplug from technology and tap into all the beauty that nature has to offer. Get ready to step away from your daily life and into a new experience that will make you feel calm and centered. 

When aren't worrying about replying to texts or checking the likes on your new Instagram post, you're more likely to enter into a state of presence. In this state, time seems to stop. It's just you and your surroundings.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you leave your electronic devices behind, the result is truly rewarding. 

In fact, a new study found time spent in nature to be especially important when it comes to creativity and problem solving. Keep reading to learn more right now.

#5. Hiking Makes You More Creative.

Did you know that taking a hike can help you solve problems more quickly and creatively?

According to the study mentioned above, hikers who spent four days away from technology emerged from nature with enhanced creativity and problem solving skills. In fact, these hikers performed problem solving tasks 50% more effectively.

Just imagine the inspiration and clarity you can find in nature.

"Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity."

- Leonardo da Vinci

Are you ready to experience the healing power of nature?

Take A Hike With 52 Hike Challenge

There's a reason why great mind like Albert Einstein, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir and Leonardo da Vinco all advocated for the outdoors: it heals.

Experience the healing power of hiking with us on one of our upcoming pop-up hikes sponsored by REI!

CLICK HERE to view our Pop-Up Hike Tour for 2019 right now.

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees”

Henry David Thoreau

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mental health benefits of hiking

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