For the first time in a while, I went on a hike. It wasn’t a major hike, but it was a much needed one. Behind the urban neighborhood where I live, there’s a lovely trail that begins at a dog park (conveniently for me), and ends at the other side of town near where our house is. I guess theoretically it can start and end in many places, but this is the route we took.
Lately, I’ve been quite stressed about things going on in my life; things that are out of my control. Though I am living abroad at the moment, in the midst of an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience, sometimes my day turns out to be an ordinary one. A day in which I imagine I’m doing what many people do back home. Go to work, come home, eat dinner, and sleep. On the weekends, I am often too tired to do much besides sit home and watch Netflix for hours on end.
However, on this particular Saturday, I glanced over at the coffee table and the pile of things to go through on top. Next to that pile was a notebook which cover reads, “What Consumes Your Mind, Consumes Your Life.” It was a subtle reminder that I needed to be healthy and get outside.
You Are More Relaxed
Just a few minutes into this short hike, it was like I became a new person. A happier person. Along with my partner and my dog, I felt this amazing wave of energy, but also peacefulness. Just an hour earlier, I was stressed, thinking about all the things I had to get done. Here I was sitting on top of a mountain with the two people I loved most, listening to the sounds of nature, feeling the sun on my face, and letting the wind blow through my hair. What was this feeling? Why did I suddenly feel ten times happier? Surely hiking outside for the day wasn’t the answer.
Oh, but it was.
Time Is Just a Number
When I got home and looked to see the time, I was reminded that I intentionally left my phone at home during the hike. When I saw the time and realized I only had a few hours to cook, clean, shower, and work until my bedtime, I immediately felt that wave of stress come over me again. When I was out on my hike, I had no idea what time it was, and it was great. Too many of us let time control us. We are so accustomed to always asking what time it is, we forget what it’s like to not have somewhere to be or something to do. However, when we go out on a hike and get away from the clock, it’s almost like time never existed at all.
Happiness Comes in a Ball of Sunshine
The sun does wonders for your body. It’s that time of year when the weather is perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, and I can head out in my favorite Adidas pants and a hoodie, without having the slightest concern. To be able to close your eyes and have the sun hit you right in the face face is a natural high. It’s no wonder people who live in warmer environments always look like they’re glowing!
You Notice the Little Things
As we took a break on the hike, I looked over at my partner who was meditating. I haven’t gotten quite to that level of relaxation yet, but I hope to get there soon. Then I looked over at my dog. He was clearly enjoying this as much as we were. It wasn’t long before he started to dig a hole underneath the bench he was just sitting on, and it brought a smile to my face. I always love when dogs do things that are stereotypically, “dog.” Just being able to bring him along on this hike with me made me so much happier, too. My family was all here with me. None of us were left behind. We were all enjoying this together. Hiking makes you realize the importance of the little things in life. I even had the chance to literally “stop and smell the flowers.” Who does that anymore?
Your Body Is Entirely in Your Control
As we began to descend down the mountain, I had to watch my step. The stairs were quite steep, and I didn’t want to fall. I slowed down a little in order to get my balance. Meanwhile, my partner and my dog were already halfway down the mountain. I didn’t care. I did what I needed to to make it down at my own pace. I had to control my breathing to not agitate my asthma. For the first time in a long time, this hike made me aware of my own body. I was able to tell it what to do, and it listened. Additionally, I felt free of my back and neck pain that seems to follow me everywhere. I began to sweat and I was a little out of breath, but it was wonderful.
You Realize That Most Problems Are Solvable
Once I made it down the mountain, I felt a little dryness in my throat. I wondered how long it would be before I got a sip of water. I knew it’d only be a short walk before I would be back home, but still, I felt a bit worried. Though, this was not the kind of worry one gets if he or she has a bill to pay, a job they need to complete, or a dentist appointment to make. This was a simple problem, with a simple solution. Why couldn’t everything be that simple? Hiking made me realize that it can be.
You Batteries Are Constantly Getting Recharged
When the hike was over, I felt revitalized. If this is how I felt after an hour long hike, imagine how I’d feel if I did this way more often? People who hike often experience similar positive vibes. They are usually able to carry this positivity into their everyday lives during the times when they are not hiking. Have you ever met an outdoorsy person who was grumpy? I sure haven’t.
Perhaps hiking more often is the only answer we need to be happier.
What do you think?