The warm summer weather opens a door to many opportunities to prioritize our mental health through social, leisure, and outdoor activities. Hiking has been proven to have numerous benefits for mental well-being. Here we will delve into the effects hiking can have on mental health and why it can be a notable choice for individuals seeking reflection, physical and mental well-being, and an ability to connect with nature.
When we immerse ourselves in nature, we work towards putting aside our day-to-day stressors and unplugging from our technological devices. Hiking allows us to embrace natural environments while receiving physical and mental health benefits. Research suggests that spending time in nature can lower stress levels, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve overall psychological well-being.
Hiking is also a fantastic form of physical exercise that engages our entire body. Navigating through diverse terrains and elevation changes, we utilize our muscles and cardiovascular system. Additionally, engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise, such as hiking, stimulates the release of endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones. These endorphins contribute to an enhanced mood, reduced stress, and increased feelings of happiness and well-being.
In addition to the physical benefits, hiking encourages mindfulness which is defined as a nonjudgmental acceptance of the present moment including all events happening around and within oneself. While exploring and engaging with nature, we can become aware of our surroundings, listening to the rustling leaves or feeling the breeze on our skin. Immersing in the present has been said to assist in detaching from our worries, concerns, and ruminative thoughts.
Hiking has been linked to improved cognitive function and creativity. The combination of physical exercise, fresh air, and exposure to the natural environment can stimulate our brain activity and enhances our cognitive abilities. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can boost attention span, memory, problem-solving skills, and creative thinking. Thus, hiking can serve as a mental workout that empowers our mind and fosters mental strength.
Hiking can be done solo or can present an opportunity for social interaction and building stronger connections with others. Joining hiking groups or embarking on trails with friends and family allows for shared experiences, conversations, and a sense of belonging. Emotional support is a strong encourager of mental well-being as it can reduce feelings of isolation and boost overall happiness.
With its encouragement of mental well-being through the utilization of physical exercise, reduction of stress, mindfulness, and social connections, hiking presents a multi-faceted approach to wellness during the warmer months. The state of Washington has many trails and hiking locations to offer, so give your brain and body a treat this summer! Remember to stay hydrated and let a loved one know where you are going if you plan to hike by yourself!
Eastside TMS and Wellness Center does offer an alternative to medications; we also treat patients using TMS therapy. If you would like to know more information about TMS therapy, contact us using the phone number above.