Hiking for Your Head

Do you tend to find yourself all caught up in your head a lot? I do, but I have worked out that there are things I can do to snap out of it and become more grounded and in the moment. One of those things is hiking. I recently heard someone say that hiking is just walking outdoors, but with a fancy name, which I kind of agree with. So you can take this article to be about hiking OR walking.

I’ve been fortunate enough to hike some of the best trails in the world. Later on this year, I’m dragging my boyfriend up Mt Kilimanjaro which I am very excited about. Most of my holidays centre around some sort of group trek (my navigation skills prevent me from embarking on any solo adventures).

Photos: Annapurna Circuit, Nepal; El Camino Ingles, Spain; Lares Trek, Peru; Oxfam 100km, Brisbane; Overland Track, Tasmania.

Besides the mental benefits, I find that they are generally cheaper than other types of holidays and they are physically challenging (and rewarding). Moreover, you tend to make good friends on them because, when there’s nothing to do but walk for hours on end, you find yourself talking and really getting to know people. Oh, and of course you get to be immersed in scenic surroundings.

I learnt pretty early on that it clears your head. I’ve never had so much clarity about my life as when I’m three days into a hike, and in the middle of nowhere. Nothing but the sound of feet hitting the ground and birds singing. No stress, no errands to run and no everyday life obligations.

Funnily enough, hiking so much has also allowed me to ponder why exactly it is so good for clearing the head in great detail. Here’s what I’ve come up with: hiking clears your head by physically shaking the energy from your head down towards your feet with each foot step, and spreads it around the rest of your body.

Instead of the energy being in your brain from all of your thoughts and thinking (thoughts are just energy after all), walking shakes it out. I liken this to what you do to a salt shaker when the salt inside is moist (ewwww) and clumped together, and won’t come out – you hit the shaker on something until all the salt loosens up and starts to come out through the holes on top.

When you couple this with the uplifting effect of being in nature, and the complete exclusion of electrical devices as is most often the case when hiking, you get a calm and happy person. A happy little camper even. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself. There’s most likely a great walking track within an hour’s driving distance from your house.

Do you have somewhere amazing you love to hike?